Breast Reduction: Best Before Or After Baby?

As women, our breasts have a direct impact on our lives. From the time we hit puberty, they become an extension of ourselves and can effect us not only physically, but emotionally too. And while some women love the size and shape they were endowed with, others feel quite the opposite-a large cup size to one person may be a blessing, but a curse to another.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were more than 63,000 breast-reduction surgeries performed in 2011 due to the fact that many women say their large breasts cause neck and shoulder pain, low self-esteem, inability to fit comfortably in clothes and undesired attention.

Woman are typically advised to seek breast reduction after they have stopped having children, or if they don't plan on future pregnancies, but for some, the physical and emotional downsides of having large breasts can't wait.

"In general it is better to wait until after having your children before having a breast reduction, but there are several exceptions. If you have truly huge breasts that limit your ability to exercise or are causing comments that embarrass you on a frequent basis, these are reasons enough to proceed with the surgery before childbearing," says Medford, OR, plastic surgeon Earl Parrish, MD.

A breast reduction, the only permanent way to reduce the size of your chest, is great for removing excess fat, tissue and skin. However, the surgery may inhibit the ability to breast feed and the breast size and shape often change during gestation.

"About 50 percent of breast lift and breast reduction patients, that have the procedure done before they have a child, are not able to breast feed because the ducts have been surgically interrupted,” says New York, NY, plastic surgeon Alan Matarasso. There are, however, women who cannot breastfeed though they have never had breast surgery.

As for how much the breast changes during and after pregnancy, every woman is different. For some women their breasts do not enlarge much, if at all, with pregnancy. For others, the breasts grow significantly, often shrinking after pregnancy. If the later is the case, a patient who had a breast reduction prior might need further augmentation after they have finished creating a family.

However, many women feel these possible downsides are a fair trade-off for surgery sooner rather than later, as excessively large breasts can be painful and bothersome.

As all women are different, a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon is your best bet when considering any type of cosmetic or corrective procedure.

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