Excessively large breasts can be more than an aesthetic embarrassment, they can also cause severe physical symptoms that directly impact quality of life. When these symptoms strike a teenage patient, it can be difficult to know whether breast reduction surgery should be performed right away or if the patient should wait until she is a little older to consider surgical correction. At New York Group for Plastic Surgery, our surgeons use a number of criteria to determine whether a younger patient is ready for breast reduction surgery.
Teenagers suffering from a condition known as Juvenile Breast Hypertrophy can transform fairly quickly from no curves at all to massive increases in breast size. Some girls can grow as large as an “H” cup, which can be significantly out of proportion to the rest of their frame. In addition, insurance companies typically use the amount of breast tissue to be removed as criteria for coverage. If a younger patient is diagnosed with Juvenile Breast Hypertrophy, and/or meets the criteria for insurance coverage, breast reduction may be considered.
Patient weight is another consideration when determining whether breast reduction surgery is the right option. Body mass index or BMI is the typical calculation used by both insurance companies and plastic surgeons when deciding whether to proceed with reduction surgery. BMI is a measure of the amount of body fat a patient has in relation to height and weight. As a general rule, if a patient is obese (BMI of 30 or higher), surgery becomes riskier and the results are not usually as satisfying.
Physical symptoms may also determine whether a patient is ready for breast reduction surgery. Symptoms of disproportionately large breasts might include:
- Back, neck and shoulder pain
- Skin irritation in the breast crease and below the breast
- Skin sores on the shoulders from tight bra straps
- Inability to participate in some sports or physical activities
Most plastic surgeons prefer to wait until breasts are fully mature before performing reduction surgery. This can usually be determined by breasts that have not grown or changed within one year. Most girls reach this point around the age of 17 or 18. However, there may be a small number of cases that qualify for surgery earlier, if they meet all the other criteria listed here.
It is important for the young patient to understand what the surgery will entail and be prepared to handle the surgery experience and the recovery period. These girls also need to comprehend the risks associated with breast reduction, which might include:
- Loss of nipple sensation
- Inability to breastfeed later on
- Breasts could continue to grow after procedure
- Weight fluctuations later on could necessitate revision surgery
Breast reduction surgery is a highly personal decision that should be made between a woman and her doctor. If the patient is on the younger side, a parent must be involved in the decision making process as well. To learn more about this procedure or find out if you are a candidate, contact New York Group for Plastic Surgery at one of our four locations: New York City, 855-337-3063; Tarrytown, 914-293-8700 or Goshen, 845-294-2018.