Is it possible my back & shoulder problems are caused by my breasts?

Hi! I am 19 years old 5'1" and about 115lbs and I have 34D-34DD cup breasts (I can wear both but the DD fits a little better when it's my time of month). At the age of 16 I was 100lbs and a FULL C cup/small D cup and for as long as I remember I have had back problems. It is painful to sit & stand for long periods of time, my shoulders get sore & my back always feels like I slept on it wrong. Am I a candidate for a breast reduction(covered by insurance) ? How small will I have to go?

Doctor Answers 4

Heavy Breasts Causing Back and Shoulder Discomfort

Your condition is called symptomatic breast hypertrophy, and this refers to very large, heavy breasts causing upper back, shoulder, and neck pain.  This is very common, and women generally experience significant relief from their symptoms after a breast reduction.  I have performed this surgery on several teenagers, many of them serious dance students who feel that their heavy breasts are an impediment to practicing their career choice.  Regarding insurance coverage for this surgery, it is possible, but insurance companies have made it increasingly difficult to qualify for such payment.  The patient has to show a history of medical treatment for the back/shoulder/neck pain, dermatologic treatment for skin rashes/infections in the skin under the breasts, and there is usually a requirement for removal of certain weight of breast tissue.   Seek a consult with a board certified plastic surgeon who has a lot of experience performing breast reductions.


West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Is it possible my back & shoulder problems are caused by my breasts?

Maybe but it depends upon the in person PS examination and the exact health insurance plan you have with its restrictions.

Breast reduction under insurance

Your symptoms sound like the usual ones for breasts that are too heavy.  Breast reduction surgery is highly effective in relieving upper back, neck, and shoulder pain in women with large breasts.  It can be effective at any age when breast size causes these symptoms, but when done in younger patients there is an increased chance it would have to be redone later in life, after aging, childbearing, and/or menopause have taken their toll.
Whether insurance will cover breast reduction surgery depends upon your insurance policy.  Most policies require that a certain weight of tissue be removed, with the amount based on your height and weight.  Some require you to be within a certain percentage of your ideal weight.  Some will only cover it over age 21.  (I disagree, but do not have the power to change it.)  Some require that the symptoms be documented over a time period of up to a year.  Some require a trial of "conservative therapy" such as physical therapy or massage therapy.  (Another requirement I disagree with, since it almost never gives lasting relief, and mainly serves to delay and discourage people from getting surgery.)  You need to be nicotine-free for at least 6 weeks before and after surgery.  (This is not an insurance requirement, but a safety measure, since nicotine decreases the blood flow to the skin and can cause the incisions to break down.)  It often takes a year or more to meet all of the requirements, so I recommend you discuss it with your primary physician sooner rather than later.

Is it possible my back & shoulder problems are caused by my breasts?

I'm sorry to hear about the physical and (possible) psychosocial problems your disproportionately large breasts are causing you. It is probable that you are dealing with juvenile breast hypertrophy; in-person consultation would be necessary to provide you with accurate assessment and advice.
It will be important that you learn about the potential risks/complications associated with breast reduction surgery. Unsatisfactory scarring is one of the potential complications. Make sure you also understands that further surgery may be necessary in the future (for example if the breasts were to grow in size again).
Some of the risks/potential complications associated with breast reduction surgery include: infection, bleeding, seroma, hematoma, wound healing problems, abnormal scarring ( hypertrophic or keloid), loss of sensation, inability to breast-feed, breast asymmetry, necrosis of tissue or skin, unsatisfactory cosmetic results, unpredictability of exact cup size postoperatively, recurrence of the breast hypertrophy, and the potential for further surgery. other risks related to surgery in general include deep venous thrombosis (clots), pulmonary embolism, pneumonia and even death.
Fortunately, the vast majority of patients who undergo this procedure by well experienced board-certified plastic surgeons and board certified anesthesiologists do very well and complications tend to be relatively minor and treatable. The severe complications are rare.     When the time is right, seek consultation with well-trained/experienced board-certified plastic surgeons. Ask to see lots of examples of his/her work achieving the types of outcomes you would be pleased with. I hope this, and the attached link (dedicated to juvenile breast reduction surgery concerns), helps. Best wishes.

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.