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RELATED CATEGORIES: Body & Breast

What is the cause of large breasts?

Breast size is determined by a mix of genetic and environmental factors. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and when the breasts start to produce milk can also cause breasts to get bigger.

Sometimes large breasts can be the result of gigantomastia, a rare condition that causes excessive growth of the female breasts. Only a couple of hundred cases have been reported.

The exact cause of gigantomastia isn’t known. It can occur at random, but has also been seen to occur during pregnancy, puberty or after taking certain medications. The condition does not affect men.

While gigantomastia is considered a benign condition, it can be physically disabling if not treated. Many women will need to undergo breast reduction surgery or a mastectomy.

Gigantomastia is also known as breast hypertrophy and macromastia.

Can I reduce my breast size?

The best way to reduce large breasts is via breast reduction surgery. A breast reduction, or 'mammoplasty', is a surgical procedure designed to reduce the volume of the breast, in order to make it smaller and, in some cases, more shapely.

Can large breasts be treated by surgery?

Breast reduction surgery is the best way to treat large breasts. The procedure focuses on removing excess tissue in the breast, as well as fat and skin to lighten the weight and prominence of the breast. The nipples are reshaped or raised, along with the breast, to create a perkier breast shape.

The breast reduction procedure, as carried out here at the Cadogan Clinic, is ideal for patients with naturally very large breasts that cause discomfort or inconvenience, or those that have permanently increased in size following childbirth.

Breast reduction surgery is also appropriate for men who are suffering from gynaecomastia, a common condition which causes the male breasts to become enlarged. This is typically performed via liposuction.

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Does weight loss help?

While often desirable for health reasons, weight loss has been repeatedly shown not to be an effective treatment for symptoms related to heavy breasts, as breast skin is heavy, and even when weight is lost it still contributes significantly to total breast weight. Any increase in breast skin volume is permanent, i.e. not reversible with weight loss.

Breasts do contain a portion of fat and regular exercise can help shed chest fat and strengthen the muscles underneath the breasts to reduce their size. Cardio and high-intensity exercises can help shed weight faster and target problem areas. Aerobic exercises can help lose all-around body fat as it speeds up metabolism. Eating a healthy diet can help with weight loss and reducing breast size.

However, a healthy diet and upping exercise will not be enough to help most women with very large breasts.

How can breast reduction surgery help?

Breast reduction surgery is a quick way, and often the only way, to reduce large breasts to a more comfortable size.

Women who have overly large breasts can find them an inconvenience, especially if they play a lot of sport or struggle to find clothes that fit around the chest area. They may find themselves excluded from certain physical activities because of the size of their breasts, causing them to feel self-conscious.

Very large breasts can also cause serious discomfort, including backache, neck pain and skin irritation, such as rashes under the breasts.

Breast reduction surgery can help with all these problems.

What are some of the symptoms that are associated with large breasts?

One of the most commonly requested and most predictably successful plastic surgery procedures is female breast reduction. Many women suffer from symptoms caused by the weight of their breasts such as back pain, and unfortunately, non-surgical treatments often provide little or no relief.

Heavy breasts can cause a number of physical problems such as chronic neck, back, and shoulder pain; chest wall pain; headaches; poor posture; shoulder grooving; numbness and tingling of the hands; shortness of breath, sleep disturbances, rashes under and between the breasts and in the bra strap grooves, and low exercise tolerance.

Can the symptoms of large breasts be treated without surgery?

Mild occasional symptoms may be relieved by anti-inflammatory medications, heat packs, massage, chiropractic, physical therapy, etc. Unfortunately, for women with more severe and persistent symptoms, such treatments rarely provide permanent relief. Good bra support can help in the short term, but is not always beneficial as the weight of the breasts can still aggravate neck, chest wall, and shoulder symptoms.

How long is breast reduction surgery recovery?

Most patients can resume full activities within six weeks, but final breast shape will not be apparent for many months. 

Also called a 'mammaplasty', is a highly effective treatment for large breasts as it deals directly with the cause of the symptoms. Breast reduction surgery is a standard part of plastic surgery training, although plastic surgeons do not all have equal experience performing the surgery.

Patient satisfaction rates after breast reduction are very high, and it is the rare patient who will not experience significant relief of her symptoms after surgery.

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