Body image concerns have become a common topic of conversation and have been filling headlines. The pressure to look a certain way leads many girls and women to take extreme measures to try to conform. That brings many into medical spas hoping for a quick fix. Some procedures, like breast reduction, are influenced more by ongoing discomfort and pain than appearance. Over a million women undergo breast reduction surgery annually. To offer some clarity, John Zannis, M.D., a board certified plastic surgeon from North Carolina and Sanam Hafeez, Psy.D., a Columbia University affiliated neuropsychologist who is passionate about body image, offered their thoughts.
The biggest gripe among large breasted women is discomfort and pain. It’s a real issue. Here’s why. “It’s simple gravity,” says Zannis. “When you have a smaller frame with larger breasts the weight adds pressure to the spinal column. This can result in poor posture and spinal bending and even herniated or slipped discs. It’s more than just appearance it’s about skeletal structure.”
Psychologically having larger breasts can take a toll on a woman’s self esteem and body image. “When you are 14 years old noticing stares from everyone from kids at school, to older men and women you begin to think there is something wrong with you,” says Hafeez. “When teens go through puberty their bodies are changing as well as their hormones. It’s a tough time.” Hafeez helps teens and women with body image issues.
One would think that as a woman matures and mentally grows into her larger breasts that her self-esteem would increase. “Women in their 20s and 30s are in the workplace and with that comes additional pressures to present themselves professionally,” says Hafeez. “They begin to see their larger breasts as detractors from who they truly are. This may even lead to anxiety or depression.”
Here’s what clients need to know if they are considering breast reduction surgery.
1. Identify symptoms.
If you have a history of symptoms such as neck, shoulder, and back pain, tingling or numbness in hands and fingers, plus rashes and deep irritating marks due to bra straps, even migraine headaches; breast reduction will bring relief.
2. Track symptoms.
It’s important to document your symptoms with photos so you can demonstrate why you are considering breast reduction. If you have visited with a chiropractor or general practitioner ask them what they think of breast reduction. Get all the information necessary.
3. Consult with a pro.
Make sure you consult with a board certified plastic surgeon who has performed breast reductions and can clearly explain the procedure. Be very clear with the look you are going for. Consider you height, weight and overall frame. Some doctors are able to provide a computer rendering of what you will look like post procedure.
4. Exercise is your best friend!
“After you fully heal you’ll be able to exercise and should,” says Zannis. “Many women always wanted to run, swim, and cycle and refrained from doing so because their breasts were simply too big and uncomfortable. Once reduced, they are amazed at how much of a zest for fitness they have. You’ll need to strengthen your shoulders and back.”
5. Expect a new you!
“Friends, family and colleagues will take notice of your new appearance,” says Hafeez. “So mentally prepare yourself to look dramatically different.” It’s important to remain upbeat, optimistic, excited and optimistic about this change. “A fun thing to do is to create a vision board with the new clothes you’ll buy and the things you look forward to doing in your new body,” she says.
Remind clients that it a decision about their wellbeing, health, and quality of life, there is no need to suffer in pain. These potential clients deserve to feel comfortable and thrive in their bodies—shoulders back and head held high.