I am 5'4. 135 lb, 17 year old female with an F cup. Would I be a good candidate for reduction mammaplasty? (Photo)

My rib cage/band size measures 30 inches, but with my breast it measures 36. I always feel a strain on my upper body, and have posture issues. And I find it very hard at times to be active without clutching my chest to ease the pain from my breast.

Doctor Answers 12

You may end up being "too small" after insurance-mandated "minimum" tissue removal.

Though an F cup seems large by description, a 30 band size means you do have large breasts, but not necessarily enough to leave you with much breast volume after the insurance-mandated minimum tissue removal of 400 grams per breast (nearly a pound each). At your height and weight (BMI), the insurance formula (Schnur scale) would calculate to 346 grams per breast minimum tissue removal to qualify for coverage. However, since most insurance companies have "minimums" of 400 grams, this would mean that your surgeon would need to remove at least 400g per breast to have your bills paid (and you may still have deductible amounts and co-pays due, based on your or your parents' plan).

1 gram less than the minimum required and YOU would get the entire bill (one woman on this site recently told us her bill was over $36000 for this exact operation (in Rochester, MN), and she was expected to come up with $4500 of her own money). Just saying.

Without a nude photo, or even better, personal physical examination, it is impossible to say if you are an appropriate candidate for this surgery. There is usually never a question that you have large and symptomatic breasts, nor is it usually a question that you have "enough" tissue available for removal and insurance "coverage." The real problem is "Will you be proportionate and satisfied with whatever breast tissue REMAINS after the insurance-mandated removal?" Any surgeon can take away the required amount. But will you be OK with what remains? And how it looks? And about a 15% chance of nipple numbness and loss of ability to breast feed?

One way to answer this question before making a decision is to see an ABPS-certified plastic surgeon who does lots of breast surgery (ASAPS member) and ask to see and feel a 400cc breast implant. Compare this volume with your own breasts, and try to visualize what remains if you have this amount removed per side. When I have women do this exercise in my office, they are often surprised to find that they will not have "enough" remaining breast volume to be happy.

Of course, every woman with large breasts claim they will be "just fine" with an A or a B or a small C cup, or whatever it seems they will have left after the required removal. However, after surgery there is a surprising number of women who cry bitterly that they are "too small" and that they "had no idea" they would look this way (essentially mastectomized with nipples, and no longer curvy or womanly). Then their only option is elective self-pay breast augmentation, which is such a shame when they had "enough tissue" pre-breast reduction, and would have been happier with a full breast lift or a small(er) cosmetic reduction (and NO insurance-mandated minimums)!

It's not that you aren't symptomatic, or that you feel your breasts are inhibiting your lifestyle--I get it. But you have to understand that I have dealt with women just like you for over 27 years, and if you would, please re-read my answer. I don't want you to make the same mistake so many women do, just to get "coverage."

That being said, you may indeed be an ideal candidate, though you will need parental consent until you are 18. Please also check your particular insurance company's deductible and co-pay requirements. Best wishes! Dr. Tholen


Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 240 reviews

Breast reduction

From your photos and your description of symptoms you would definitely be a good candidate for a breast reduction. The things to keep in mind since you are so young are that sometimes insurance companies do not cover the surgery for patients under 18 years of age. You also need to consider that a breast reduction may decrease your chances of being able to successfully breastfeed if you have kids later on, and there is always a chance that your breasts will continue to get larger/grow, especially if you gain weight or become pregnant. Of course while these are all valid future considerations many patients find greater benefit from having the surgery in terms of their increased comfort and self esteem. 

Tracy Kayan, MD
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Candidate for Breast Reduction?

You appear to be a great candidate for breast reduction surgery. However at age 17, you need parental consent. If you are looking to have insurance cover your surgery, most will not cover until you are 18, but sometimes there are exceptions. Your best bet is to see a Board Certified Plastic Surgery for a consultation and learn what options are avaiable to you. Good luck.

Miguel Delgado, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 68 reviews

Dr Kayser

Thanks for your question. You are a good candidate for a reduction as this will both reduce and lift your breasts. The question is whether the insurance will cover the procedure. Thus can be determined at your consult. I would also suggest that there are also many approaches and techniques that offer advantages over the more traditional wise pattern or anchor types reductions that reduce scarring and improve shape. I would seek out a board certified plastic surgeon. I hope this helps and have a wonderful day. Dr Kayser - Detroit 

Melek Kayser, MD
Detroit Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Breast Reduction

It is difficult to comment and assess without proper pictures but I believe that you would be an ideal candidate for a reduction but it really depends on how small you are willing to go.  Insurance companies will not approve a reduction of less than 500 grams and depending on how much breast tissue you have, it may leave you rather small. 

Good candidate for breast reduction?

Whether you are a good candidate for breast reduction can be answered two different ways.

  1. Would you benefit from, and be happy after a breast reduction? The answer to this question really depends on what your goal is. Do you want to fit better in clothing? Be more proportional? Alleviate back, neck or shoulder pain caused by having large breasts? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you would likely benefit from a breast reduction.
  2. Would a breast reduction be covered by insurance? Insurance approval requires that you have a history of symptoms such as skin rashes, neck/back/shoulder pain, grooving in your shoulder from bra straps etc. that have not improved after medical therapies such as pain medications, physical therapy, or ice/hot packs. Insurance approval also requires that a certain minimum amount of breast tissue be removed. 
If you are interested in finding out more about breast reduction, I would recommend scheduling a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area. Best of luck to you!

Jennifer Greer, MD
Cleveland Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

I am 5'4. 135 lb, 17 year old female with an F cup. Would I be a good candidate for reduction mammaplasty?

I am sorry to hear about your discomfort. Based on your description, you may be a very good candidate for a medically necessary breast reduction. It is important for you to discuss your concerns with your primary care physician and to have your symptoms documented in your medical record. "Medically necessary" breast reductions are covered by insurance; however insurance carriers use different criteria to determine if a breast reduction qualifies for coverage. Being a good candidate for a surgical procedure also means you have a thorough understanding of the condition and of the intended procedure. Breast development can continue into the early twenties. When breast reduction surgery is done before this time, there is a chance the surgery will have to be repeated. For these reasons, many insurance carriers will not cover the cost of a breast reduction if a woman is younger than eighteen years of age. There are risks with any surgery and although rare, complete loss of nipple feeling can occur due to nerve injury. This may interfere with sexual arousal and breast-feeding. Ten to fifteen percent of patients having a breast reduction experience some change in breast feeling. This can include loss of nipple sensation.

Consider sharing your thoughts about surgery with your family and loved ones. Ask to visit with at least one plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery to learn about your options for breast reduction. Your family, your personal physician and your chosen board certified plastic surgeon can help you make the decisions that are right for you. I wish you the best!

Mahsa Moghaddam, MD
Minneapolis Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Breast reduction

Hi and thanks for posting your question!

Based on the information you have posted you have a disproportion of the size of your breasts to the rest of your body as well as some symptoms that cause you discomfort as result you would likely benefit form a reduction in the size of your breasts. A consultation with a plastic surgeon to discuss the risk and benefits you might encounter with a breast reduction would be advisable. The surgeon can discuss issues such as breast feeding in the future, risk of changed nipple sensation, wound healing complications, asymmetry, and possible need for an additional reduction in your future (to list some).A breast reduction operation is one of the most rewarding operations that plastic surgeons are able to offer their patients and making informed decisions about the procedure is important. 




Rachel Streu, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Candidate for breast reduction ?

Hello, thanks for write

I would like to see brast photos without clothes, but for the excelent info you wrote, I can deduce that you have bigs and heavy breasts, for your height and weight, therefore I recommend you perform a breast reduction to avoid possible injury and osteo articular lesions in the back.

Emmanuel Mallol Cotes, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 178 reviews

Yes

It appears as if you would be a great candidate. It is important to remember though that it could affect your ability to breast feed. 

Scott Tucker, MD
Winston Salem Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 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.