Back pain is an exceedingly common complaint among Americans, affecting hundreds of thousands of people per year. While there are many possible causes of back pain, women have to deal with an additional cause that may not come to mind as often – breast size. For some women, losing weight can help decrease the size of enlarged breasts, thus decreasing back pain. For others, making a simple change such as finding a more supportive bra can help redistribute the weight across the shoulders, decreasing pain. Unfortunately, for a large number of women, these solutions simply don’t work. This can feel very discouraging for many women left wondering if there’s another option. Fortunately, there is a solution! Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Traci Temmen offers safe and effective surgical options for patients looking to decrease the size of their breasts and improve their quality of life. This blog post will discuss the similarities and differences between two common procedures, breast lift and breast reduction, and address which option may be better for women looking for relief from back pain due to heavy breasts.
First, let’s break down the differences between a breast lift and breast reduction. The goals of a breast lift include raising the nipple-areolar complex to a higher position, tightening the skin envelope of the breast, and improving upper breast fullness and shape. To achieve these goals, Dr. Temmen surgically repositions the nipple and breast tissue to a higher position on the chest wall, making the breasts look perkier. Additionally, excess loose and sagging skin is removed during this process to tighten the skin of the breasts and create a fuller, more youthful shape. During a breast lift, the removal of excess sagging skin and superficial tissue generally reduces cup size by about one letter (i.e. D to C). Although the breasts are technically smaller, they typically appear fuller after a lift due to the tightening and lifting effects of the surgery.
A breast reduction builds upon the procedure for a breast lift by adding surgical excision of excess breast tissue. This allows breast size to be decreased much more significantly than with a breast lift. It is important to note that a breast reduction still includes all of the elements of a breast lift that eliminate sagging, including the repositioning of the nipple-areola complex and skin tightening to create a perkier appearance. The main difference is simply that a reduction also removes a significant amount of breast tissue to make the breasts the desired size. Both breast lift and reduction may also include resizing of the nipple-areola complex for those desiring smaller or more symmetrical areolas.
Scar locations for these procedures vary depending on the degree of breast sagginess and/or enlargement. Patients requiring a small breast reduction or lift may achieve beautiful with a single scar placed around the nipple areolar complex (the border between the more pigmented areola and the rest of the breast). For patients requiring a larger reduction with a more significant degree of breast sagging, it is necessary to add a vertical scar from the bottom of the nipple-areolar complex to 2-4 cm above the breast fold at the chest wall. While patients often worry about this scar, it typically heals very well and can become virtually invisible after a year. Rarely, patients desiring a drastic reduction with extreme degrees of breast sagging may need a third horizontal scar placed at the breast fold. Traci Temmen understands that scars are a source of anxiety for many patients, and is committed to forming a personalized surgical plan with each patient to address all of her concerns and ensure the best possible aesthetic outcome that meets her goals.
Let’s end this post with a quick discussion of the role of breast size in back pain, and which surgical option can most effectively mitigate this. If you think about it, it makes sense that heavy breasts cause back pain. The breasts add substantial weight to the chest, which in turn exerts excess pressure on the joints and muscles of the back, causing pain. Over time, this can take a heavy toll on the body. Breast weight largely depends on breast size, and can vary from less than a pound to over five pounds for well-endowed ladies! While supportive bras may help redistribute this weight, unfortunately the amount of weight remain the same unless the breast size is reduced. For women with who are primarily concerned with the saggy appearance of their breasts rather than the size, a breast lift may be a good option. However, women with enlarged breast size that is causing secondary issues such as back pain will likely benefit more from a breast reduction, as this does much more to remove excess tissue from the breasts, and decrease the amount of weight.
Deciding the best option for you can feel daunting, but luckily you’re not on your own! Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Traci Temmen offers one-on-one consultations to all of her patients that includes a detailed discussion of the patient’s past medical and surgical history and goals for what she hopes to achieve from surgery. During this visit, Dr. Temmen also performs a thorough physical exam and takes precise measurements of the breasts to create a personalized surgical plan for each patient. She also takes the time to answer any questions the patient has about surgery, recovery, outcomes, and anything else the patient has concerns about. Dr. Temmen recognizes that surgery of any kind is an anxiety-inducing process for most patients, and is committed to helping each patient feel comfortable and cared for from initial consultation to recovery.
Dr. Traci Temmen is an expert at cosmetic breast surgery, and frequently performs breast lifts and breast reductions with beautiful results. She enjoys working with each patient to help them reach their goals, and love using her skills to restore patient’s confidence and quality of life. If you are interested in learning more about breast lift, reduction, or any other cosmetic plastic surgery you are interested in, please call 813-771-6393 to book your one-on-one consultation with Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon Traci Temmen, MD, today.