When Less Is More: The Complete Guide for Women Considering Breast Reduction Surgeryby Bethanne, M.D. Snodgrass M.D.
If you have ever thought that your breasts are too big, this book is for you. Do you suffer from chronic back and neck pain? Do you struggle to sit up straight? What about frequent headaches or hand numbness? Disabling muscle and joint pain, discolored shoulder grooves from your bra straps, and rashes under your breasts are just some of the symptoms caused by heavy
If you have ever thought that your breasts are too big, this book is for you. Do you suffer from chronic back and neck pain? Do you struggle to sit up straight? What about frequent headaches or hand numbness? Disabling muscle and joint pain, discolored shoulder grooves from your bra straps, and rashes under your breasts are just some of the symptoms caused by heavy breasts. Many large-breasted women also suffer psychologically from poor body image and unwanted sexual attention. Sound familiar? If so, When Less Is More will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about a procedure that can transform your life.
Breast reduction is among the top ten most commonly performed major plastic surgical procedures, as common as facelift surgery. Most women experience dramatic symptom relief and emotional benefits after the procedure. In fact, the vast majority of women who have breast reduction surgery would have it again or recommend it to a friend. Even celebrities are speaking out about their breast reductions and the life-changing benefits they have experienced as a result. However, making the decision to have surgery can be difficult, and most women consider it for years before taking action.
Unfortunately, despite the media attention and increasing frequency of the procedure, there is an alarming lack of accurate information regarding the surgery and its indications. Many doctors still recommend weight loss as an effective way to reduce breast size without scientific evidence to support this approach. Insurance companies often further confuse and complicate matters by using strict, one-size-fits-all guidelines to determine coverage eligibility.When Less Is More offers much-needed help for women suffering with large breasts by providing reliable information to help them answer critical questions:
Will the surgery help me?
Are there alternatives to surgery?
How do I find a good doctor?
Will my insurance pay for the surgery?
It also includes immediate steps you can take to help relieve pain, such as finding a well-fitting bra, and features a fully illustrated physical therapy program. To help you face surgery with confidence, Dr. Snodgrass also discusses many details that doctors don’t have time to tell you.
You may be a teenager trying to hide your breast size, a corporate executive, a stay-at-home mom, or a grandmother with deep grooves in your shoulders from your bra straps. Whoever you are or whatever your circumstances, the bottom line is you want to look and feel better. Breast reduction is one of the most effective surgeries available to help you do that, and When Less Is More gives you the essential information you need.
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When Less Is MoreThe Complete Guide for Women Considering Breast Reduction Surgery
By Bethanne Snodgrass
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Bethanne Snodgrass
All right reserved.
The First Step
Will Breast Reduction Surgery Help Me?
It is not easy to think about having surgery on your breasts. American culture is obsessed with breasts. They have become the standard-bearers for femininity. Even as female celebrities' bodies have become thinner, their hips and thighs liposuctioned to look lean and more masculine, their breasts have steadily enlarged. These redesigned bodies are a far cry from the voluptuous nudes of Rubens or even the curvaceous forms of the 1950s' movie bombshells. Yet, as many naturally large-breasted women will confirm, more is not always better. Not every woman wants her breasts to be the center of attention or to enter a room well ahead of the rest of her body. Large breasts can feel like a millstone around a woman's neck, and even large breast augmentation implants weigh less than what most breast reduction patients have removed. Celebrities with surgically enhanced breasts are in the business of selling sex, but ordinary women with oversized breasts often get unwanted sexual attention, both spoken and unspoken. Even worse, their breast size keeps them from living normal lives. In general, the most common problems that cause women to seek breast reduction surgery are back, neck, and shoulder pain; chronic skin-crease irritation; shoulder grooving; and limitations of physical activities. Other reasons that women seek surgery are a significant difference in size between the breasts (breast asymmetry); breast size out of proportion to body size; breast sagging; and self-consciousness or psychological distress due to excessive breast prominence.
Medical research has shown that the more severe a woman's symptoms are, the more likely she is to benefit from breast reduction surgery. Symptoms are more important than breast size in predicting how much benefit a woman will experience from surgery. One study showed that women with pain from heavy breasts ranked living with their symptoms equal to living with chronic medical conditions like low back pain, knee arthritis, moderate chest pain from heart disease, and kidney transplant. Breast reduction surgery has also been shown to improve the lives of women who suffer from heavy breasts by allowing them to resume many routine activities that they had given up because of their symptoms.
In this chapter I will help you analyze your own situation. What kind of symptoms and physical changes do you have that may be caused by your breast size? What medical conditions do you have that might be causing or contributing to your symptoms? Do you want your breasts to be "lifted" but stay the same size? Are there any reasons why you should not have breast reduction surgery?
Throughout this chapter you will see words in boldface type that are the major symptoms and physical changes that insurers look for when evaluating requests for coverage of breast reduction surgery.
Nichole sat on my exam table and told me about her neck and shoulder pain. "They don't carry bras in my size at the store, so I have to order them. It is such a hassle if they don't fit right and have to be sent back. This bra cost $80 and my shoulders still hurt, especially at the end of the day! I get headaches, and some days they are so bad that I just have to sit or lie down until they are bearable. My fingers go numb at night if I sleep on my side, but I hate sleeping on my back." Even so, Nichole wasn't sure what to do. "Do you think a breast reduction would help me?" she asked.
Many women have pain every day that they do not realize is a direct result of their breast weight. I have a series of questions that I ask my breast reduction patients at their first consultation, and almost every patient looks at me with surprise when I ask about a symptom that she never dreamed was related to her large breasts. Once you understand your anatomy you will be able to make a list of your own symptoms.
A woman with large breasts has to support her breast weight with her spine, shoulders, and all the muscles attached to those structures. Your unique anatomy plays a big role in how much breast weight you can handle without symptoms. Your spine is designed to keep your body standing up straight. Actually, your spine is built with natural curves, but the curves complement each other so that your center of gravity ideally is located on a straight line from your ear canal to your ankle. The muscles attached to your spine maintain your posture in its proper alignment. Heavy breasts throw off the alignment of your spine by forcing your neck and shoulders forward. This changes your center of gravity and puts tremendous strain on your neck muscles. You feel tired more easily, and over time you are more likely to develop bone spurs on your spine that can lead to chronic neck pain.
Long-standing neck strain from breast weight can also cause headaches. Headaches in the back of your head (occipital headaches) are a common symptom of heavy breasts and result from pressure on nerves that run from the base of your skull up the back of your head. Many women experience relief of these and other kinds of headaches, including frontal headaches and migraines, after breast reduction surgery.
The weight of heavy breasts also affects the position of your upper and middle (thoracic) spines and your shoulder blades (scapulae). Excessive misalignment of these structures puts strain on the attached muscles and ligaments. The shoulder blades roll forward and cause poor posture. Over time these effects cause shoulder pain, especially under the bra straps, and mid- and upper back pain. The pain makes sitting upright difficult, which aggravates your poor posture. Women with a significant difference in breast size (asymmetry) may have greater shoulder and back pain on one side compared with the other.
Excerpted from When Less Is More by Bethanne Snodgrass Copyright © 2005 by Bethanne Snodgrass.
Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Bethanne Snodgrass, M.D., FACS, is a successful plastic and reconstructive surgeon. She has lectured at events sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the Ohio Academy of Science, and the Jewish Working Women's Network. The author of When Less Is More: The Complete Guide for Women Considering Breast Reduction Surgery, she lives in Ohio.
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