Is a 36DD Too Small to Get a Breast Reduction?

I'm 24, 5'8" and 180lbs. I'd like to lose 20lbs before getting a breast reduction to a C, but I've always been big busted. At least a D, even when I weighed 145 2 yrs ago. I just had twins 6 mo's ago so sagging is an issue too. Just wandering if a breast reduction will be ideal (thinking in terms of ins. coverage). I have very good insurance, but I know how difficult it can be to get these types of surgeries covered. I have had back pain since before I can remember as well as posture problems.

Doctor Answers 13

Breast Reduction Candidate?

Thank you for the question and pictures.

Based on your description you may be a good candidate for breast reduction surgery;  it is one of the most patient pleasing operations we perform.

The best way to obtain insurance coverage for breast reduction surgery involves some “hoops” to jump through. The more documentation you have (for example, from your primary care doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor etc.) the better when it comes to obtaining insurance “authorization” for the procedure.
This documentation and letter/pictures from your plastic surgeon will help you obtain authorization. Make sure you're  working with a well-trained/experienced board-certified plastic surgeon.

Best wishes.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,498 reviews

Breast reduction

If you are unhappy with the size of your large breasts, and especially if they are causing you any back, neck or shoulder pain, you are a candidate for breast reduction (as long as you are in good health). It is great that you have a goal to lose some additional weight before the surgery. But like you said, you have always had large breasts, so it sounds like surgical reduction is the best option for you. From your picture it also looks like your breasts are different sizes, so a breast reduction can help make your breasts appear more symmetrical as well! You should consult in person with a board certified plastic surgeon who has special expertise in breast reduction surgery. At that time, the surgery coordinator at the office should be able to assist you in getting your insurance to cover your procedure, if it is medically necessary. Good luck!

Jimmy S. Firouz, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Breast Reduction: insurance candidate

Thank you for your question and photos. From your pictures, it appears that you do would definitely benefit from a #breastreduction. The symptoms that you are experiencing are quite typical for a woman with large breasts. In addition to relieving the physical discomfort, we find that breast reduction also improves self image, allows for participation in various physical activities and it's easier to find clothes that fit.

In general when the excessive breast size causes functional problems, #insurance will generally pay for #breastreduction if more than 400 – 500 grams are removed from each breast dependent on your individual insurance company requirements. These problems may include neck #pain, back or shoulder pain, hygiene difficulty, and breast pain. 

Many women that elect to have #mammoplasty, also will require a lift. The lift is part of the procedure at no extra cost. A #lift is necessary to ensure proper placement of the #nipples and can allow for areola reduction if needed. The best advise I can give you is to schedule a consultation with a Board Certified plastic surgeon who will be qualified to evaluate your current breast shape and volume. They will also be able to explain all of your options. Good luck!

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 110 reviews

Breast reduction

You don't have to be an excessively large size to get a breast reduction. As long as you understand the risks related to the surgery and all that it entails, as well as are mature enough to make an informed decision, then you are a candidate for surgery. It's best to achieve your ideal weight first. If the pain you're feeling is a result of your large breasts and this can be proven, then you may be able to get insurance to cover your surgery. Consult with a board certified PS who will examine you and make sure breast reduction is right for you. They will then help you get insurance approval.

Michael Constantin Gartner, DO
Paramus Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 140 reviews

Breast Reduction Candidate seeking insurance coverage

Each insurance company has different guidelines. Moreover, insurance requirements are different depending on state and insurance plan. The process to receive insurance reimbursement for the breast reduction procedure can be quite frustrating.

There are a series of questions that must be answered prior to beginning the insurance process.
1. Have you experienced persistent symptoms in at least two of the anatomical body areas below, affecting daily activities for at least one year:
Pain in upper back
Pain in neck
Pain in shoulders
Painful kyphosis documented by X-rays
Pain / discomfort / ulceration from bra straps cutting into shoulders;
2. Have you had a mammogram within the last year?
3. Have you tried any of the following therapies for 3 months or more?
Supportive devices (e.g., proper bra support, wide bra straps)
Analgesic / non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) interventions
Physical therapy / exercises / posturing maneuvers

4. Have you seen a physician for the symptoms you have experienced? When?

Your physician must also be able to document symptoms such as back and neck pain, headaches, also needs to ensure that the estimated reduction is consistent with the insurance company’s requirements for your BMI.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Insurance coverage for breast reduction

Every insurance plan has their own unique criteria on whether they will cover a breast reduction. More and more, we are seeing plans where a breast reduction is not a covered benefit. If it is a covered benefit, some insurance plans set a minimum required amount of tissue to be remove in order to met their threshold for coverage. Some set the amount in relation to your BMI (height and weight). Others require extensive medical records documenting neck pain, back pain, and history of rashes. The other alternative is to opt for a breast reduction as a self-pay option. Start by visiting with a board certified plastic surgeon to learn more about your options.

Best wishes,

Dr. Basu
Houston, TX

C. Bob Basu, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 211 reviews

Size is relative to your frame.

There is really no definitive answer that works for every woman’s body it comes to breast reduction. If your breasts measure 36DD and you feel they are overwhelming for your body, or you have noticed back pain and other problems associated with macromastia (large breasts), then you could be a good candidate for breast reduction surgery. In other women, a 36DD may not be large enough; it’s all relative to your natural frame and your personal appearance goals. As for insurance coverage, most companies base that on the total grams that are removed per side, so according to that definition, you may be “too small” to have your procedure covered by insurance. However, check with a surgeon; the answer might surprise you.

David N. Sayah, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Prior Authorization Has To Be Complete Before Knowing if Insurance Will Cover Breast Reduction

Based on your pictures and symptoms, I believe you’re probably a good candidate for breast reduction surgery. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to know whether or not an insurance carrier will cover the expense of this procedure until prior authorization is complete. Each insurance company has its own unique requirements and some companies consider breast reduction a contract exclusion. This means they won't cover it, even if you're a perfect candidate for surgery.
I believe you would benefit from this procedure in multiple ways. Breast reduction alleviates symptoms associated with breast enlargement, such as back pain, neck pain, breast pain, shoulder pain, and chronic rashes. It improves breast aesthetics by reducing the size of the breast, reducing the areola size, and lifting the breast into normal position. It results in improved self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-image. All of these benefits make breast reduction an extremely popular procedure with high satisfaction rates.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Insurance and breast reductions

Without an exam it is hard to assess what volume of tissue you have and how much can be removed that can also leave you with a nice shape and volume.  Each insurance company has different criteria for approval as well.  Good luck.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Initial cup size is only one determinant for breast reduction

Many factors are considered when looking at insurance coverage for breast reduction surgery, and a 36DD cup is certainly not too small to consider the potential benefits of reduction. It is courageous of you to submit your picture, and it appears that the DD may not be a 'true' cup size. Often women with a very large breast will wear a bra that they can find be it convenience or fashion and will under-size the true cup. Who really enjoys a custom wide strap G cup bra at your age. When judging breast reduction your height and weight, breast size, distance of the nipple to the neck, and estimated weight of reduction all must be factored in. Based on your photo, if you are strongly motivated to complete a breast reduction, an exam and insurance predetermination is worth a shot.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.