When Less Is More: How Breast Reduction May Help Your Teen



{Thank you to the Portland Plastic Surgery Group for sponsoring this post.}

Between friends, homework, and hormones, high school girls have enough on their plates. But for many teenagers, they also must deal with something that may surprise you: overly large breasts.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the number of breast reduction surgeries increased 139% between 1997 and 2014, and many of those surgeries were performed on girls age 18 and younger. Many large-busted teens decide to go undergo the procedure between 16 and 20 years old, at which point breast tissue growth begins to slow and the adult breast size is reached.

Although some may balk at the idea of plastic surgery at such a young age, the improvements in these teens’ overall quality of life are dramatic. They may be the envy of other girls their age, but a big bosom isn’t always a blessing, often having a major negative effect on their physical and psychological health. If you have a teenage daughter with large breasts, read on to learn about some of the ways they may be affecting her well-being — and how breast reduction can help.

Physical Pain

More than 75% of patients who undergo breast reduction surgery complain of neck, shoulder, or back pain, according to a study from the University of Rochester Medical Center. Many also complain of chronic headaches, which can affect a teen’s attentiveness and overall performance in school.

Back PainThis back and neck pain can also limit a girl’s ability to participate in sports and other physical activities, as it did for one patient named Monika, who talked to WPLG in Miami. “I wanted to do cheerleading, but I couldn’t,” she said. “The pain in my back was horrible.” She had breast reduction surgery before her junior year of high school and was able to successfully try out for the team.

Large breast size has also been blamed for tingling and sensitivity issues in women’s hands and forearms, as well as skin rashes under the breasts and where bra straps cut into the shoulders. Without intervention, the weight can cause the shoulders to roll forward and cause compression in the thoracic vertebrae. These women are also more likely to herniate disks due to the constant stress on their backs and necks.

Trust Issues

TrustAside from physical issues, the toughest factor many girls with large breasts must deal with is difficulty navigating social relationships and trusting those around them. Many women who underwent breast reduction later in life, such as Cassie, report that they dealt with a lot of teasing in school, even as early as elementary school. “One of my friends was also large-chested and kids called her ‘Dolly [Parton]’ behind her back,” Cassie told the blog Yes and Yes. “I never heard if they had a nickname for me, because they didn’t say it to my face, but I was sure if they did for her, the same went for me.”

As these girls enter puberty, it can get worse. High school senior Mackenzie Langan told ABC News that she was known only for her boobs at school and that boys would date her only because of her size.

The result of this kind of treatment after many years is that young women feel they are defined by their breasts. These girls often second-guess the attention they receive, making them less likely to open up to those around them and build long-lasting relationships.

Weakened Self-Esteem

Perhaps the most important factor isn’t physical discomfort or issues relating to others, but the way a young woman feels about herself. A girl’s self-confidence and sense of worth can be hit hard by her large cup size. Many girls report being unable to find clothes that fit properly. Dresses and tops that look innocent on the rack may suddenly become uncomfortably revealing on many girls’ otherwise petite frames. To compensate, these girls often choose to wear bulky sweatshirts and baggy tees to conceal their chests. Clothing issues can limit girls’ ability to dress in a way that reflects their personalities.

Many teenagers end up feeling like they aren’t normal and even develop destructive behaviors such as eating disorders in an attempt to reduce the size of their breasts. However, large breasts that are disproportionate to the rest of a girl’s body are often primarily made of glandular breast tissue rather than fatty tissue, so even healthy diet and exercise habits have little effect.

Coupled with negative attention from peers, these issues leave teens with major confidence issues that can resonate in many other areas of their lives.

A Surgical Solution

If your teenager is experiencing some of these quality-of-life concerns, it’s worth considering breast reduction surgery. For girls with physical pain, insurance companies may cover some or all of breast reduction as a medically necessary surgery. This helps significantly reduce the financial load on the family of the affected teenager.


Although all surgery comes with some risks, breast reduction is among the safest and most commonly performed procedures among plastic surgeons. According to the breast reduction webpage of the Portland Plastic Surgery Group in Oregon, qualified specialists offer short-scar techniques that make healing more comfortable. Recovery usually takes a few weeks, they say, before patients can return to normal activity. In time, many patients become more active than ever once they realize how much more comfortable and confident they feel in their bodies.

If you feel that a breast reduction surgery may be something that could help your daughter, make sure to find a surgeon with significant experience. Finding the right surgeon helps to ensure natural-looking results that best complement your daughter’s shape and help balance her body contours. Even if you aren’t sure and simply want to learn more, a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon can help you determine whether breast reduction surgery is an appropriate choice for your daughter.