Complements Overly large breasts may cause health concerns for women and men


By Emily Peterson, MD, reconstructive & cosmetic surgery, Mount Nittany Physician Group

Overly large breasts are a very real concern for some people. Affecting both mental and physical health, overly large breasts can be a substantial burden, making exercise and certain daily activities increasingly difficult. Emotionally speaking, excess breast tissue can also cause poor self-image in individuals and become psychologically taxing.

Unfortunately, sometimes the culture we live in sensationalizes women having large breasts. Sure, it might be nice to have extra curves to fill out a dress or bathing suit top, but in reality, breast tissue is heavy and carrying around that excess weight can cause severe back pain, neck pain, shoulder discomfort, skin irritation, and poor posture.

In women with large breasts, it’s not uncommon to feel the need to wear two or three sports bras while jogging or participating in high-impact sports. Even finding everyday clothing can be a challenge, as larger sizes may appear unflattering or cost more than regular clothing. Many times, having excessively large breasts can lead to low self-esteem for women and a desire to “be more like the average woman.”

Similarly, men’s breasts can also become overly developed. Gynecomastia is a condition in which a male’s breasts are larger than normal due to a change in hormone balance, heredity, disease, or even the use of certain drugs.

More common in adolescent boys, the condition typically disappears by adulthood. In cases where the breasts do not diminish in size, or in cases where the overly large breasts are due to heredity, disease, or certain drugs, it is not uncommon for men to feel embarrassed and self-conscious. Not wanting to take off a shirt while swimming or even while being intimate is also a very real worry for some men.

Although it may have been taboo to talk about a number of years ago, breast reductions are now becoming more widely discussed. Whether you’re in physical pain from excessive breast tissue, your self-confidence is suffering, or overly large breasts are preventing you from leading a more active lifestyle, it’s important to know that there are options available to you.


To be a good candidate for breast reduction, you should be in good health. Because a number of different incision patterns and techniques are available, your doctor will help to determine the best option for your procedure during your pre-operative appointments. The size of your breasts, the elasticity of your skin, and even the position of your areolas can all become factors in determining which method will work best for you.

Many women who choose to undergo a breast reduction find they are quite pleased with their results, as physical pain and discomfort is typically relieved, and breasts become smaller, less heavy, and more evenly proportioned.


Surgery on men is best performed when the condition cannot be corrected through alternative treatment methods. Interestingly, unlike many other cosmetic procedures, breast reduction can be an option for adolescents. However, it’s important to know that younger patients may require a secondary procedure.

In addition, if the unwanted breast material is mostly made of fat, a reduction surgery may be performed using liposuction only. On the other hand, in cases of excess glandular breast tissue and/or skin, an excision would be necessary.

Like all medical procedures, it’s important to talk with your doctor about the risks of surgery before making any permanent decisions. With breast reduction, risks include noticeable scarring, bleeding, infection, lengthy healing and anesthesia risks. For women of childbearing age, there is also a chance that a breast reduction can limit the ability to breastfeed.

The decision to undergo a breast reduction is a highly personal one. When considering this option, it’s important to find a surgeon you trust, as he or she will be your partner in care for many months.

Look for a physician who is board certified, highly trained in this type of procedure, and with whom you feel comfortable with. It’s important that you be up-front and realistic with your physician about the results that you expect from your surgery. A consultation appointment with a plastic and reconstructive surgeon is a great starting point, where you can meet the physician, ask questions, take notes, and determine an attainable game plan.

Remember, a breast reduction may serve more than an aesthetic purpose, especially if you suffer from severe pain and discomfort due to overly large breasts.