Would the NHS Help with Getting my Breasts Reduced?

hello! I'm a 19 year old student in the uk, am 5'3" and weight around 13 1/2 stone. My current breast size is a 30JJ (uk size), and am beginning to stuggle daily with back pain, bad posture and low self confidance. I am aware that my weight is above average, but even when I was 10 stone I was a 28J. It getting to a point where I can't buy the correct support for my breasts, exercise is painful for my chest. I can't afford reduction myself, could the NHS help? thanks!

Doctor Answers 3

Breast Reduction and NHS Help?

Thank you for the question.

It certainly sounds like you are a good candidate for breast reduction surgery for physical and psychological reasons. It will be in your best interest to see a well experienced plastic surgeon in your area for help in approaching the NHS.

Good luck in obtaining coverage for the procedure;  it is one of the most patient pleasing operations we perform.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,488 reviews

Insurance coverage for breast reduction

I am in the US so I do not know how the NHS works in Britain, but here in the US there is usually a breast weight criteria based upon your weight and height.  Also specific  symptoms of larger breasts like back and neck pain. AS for your insurance coverage criteria, it is best to contact them and ask.

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

Breast Reduction and Insurance Coverage

Hi Kitty 1603,

Well, I can't say how the NHS makes its determinations, but here's what happens in the US.  And I can't covert the weights you give (stones...) into pounds.  But I would suspect that, in general, the greater the symptoms, the more likely that the surgery would be covered.  In order for you to find out specifically, you'd need to go to one or more doctors near you and see what their criteria are.

Each insurance company is different and, not surprisingly, it is become harder and harder to get insurance companies to pay for this procedure. In general, though, they will cover the procedure if you can show that removing the indicated amount of tissue (more on that below) will be likely to alleviate certain specific symptoms.

First, then, you have to have those symptoms. Typically they would include neck, back and shoulder pain, bra strap grooving and/or intertrigo (rashes underneath the breasts). The inability to exercise or to sleep comfortably can be additional symptoms.

Then, you have to have "enough" tissue removed. Understandably, if only a small amount of tissue is removed the insurance company is more likely to consider it a cosmetic procedure (called in that case a "breast lift" rather than a breast reduction). It used to be that a breast reduction would be more likely to be "covered" as long as 500 grams - a little over a pound - was removed from each breast. Now, though, it is typically more complicated. In general, you have to remove a certain amount of breast tissue relative to your body mass index. Here's a site that can help you determine your body mass index nhlbisupport.com/bmi/. Even then, though, you will have to find out from your insurance company how much tissue has to removed in order to qualify. Companies don't normally publicize their criteria widely, but they may and, in the meantime, this something that your plastic surgeon may be able to help you with.

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

Alan M. Engler, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 125 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.