Many women suffer from overly large breasts, which can cause back, shoulder, and neck pain. The most common age range for a breast reduction is around 20 to 40 years old, but it can be performed essentially at any age. The majority of breast growth occurs around puberty, so it is not uncommon to need the procedure as a teenager. Since the procedure is performed for medical reasons, it is normally covered by health insurance plans.
The operation is done under general anesthesia, often on an outpatient basis, and usually takes 2 to 3 hours. The incisions typically extend around the areola (the pigmented skin) and down to and along the lower breast crease. Once the excess breast tissue is removed, the breast is reshaped and the nipple and areola are repositioned to a normal location. The breasts are wrapped for 24 hours after surgery to limit swelling and discomfort. Following this, a sports bra should be worn at all times for the next month and strenuous activity limited. There are typically no sutures to be removed.
The main tradeoff for reducing the breasts and improving discomfort is the scars. While it can take some time for the scars to fade, most women are very pleased and notice almost immediate relief from their discomfort.