Dr. Gregory Buford share some thoughts on breast reduction surgery for runners.
Picture this: it’s a beautiful Denver day, you’ve laced up your favorite sneakers, and you can’t wait to hit the road for a run. But within just a few minutes of hitting the pavement, you find yourself slowed by pain, chafing, and general discomfort. Unfortunately, the above scenario is very real for women with large breasts.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
Troubles associated with larger breasts—including trouble breathing, chronic back and shoulder pain, and chafing and digging—are amplified for active women. Additionally, a large bust can be particularly likely to garner unwelcome attention when exercising.
Many of my athletic patients report feeling self-conscious over bouncing breasts while running, making them hesitant to be active in public. Naturally large breasts also tend to sag earlier in life, and many young, active women find their breasts have taken on an aged or “deflated” appearance that doesn’t match their fit physique.
Sure, high-support sports bra can control bounce, but most breast-taming solutions are uncomfortable and temporary. The only way to permanently eliminate the unpleasant side effects of overly heavy breasts is through breast reduction surgery.
How Breast Reduction Can Help Active Women
When performed by an experienced, board certified plastic surgeon, breast reduction is the safest and most effective option for removing excess breast tissue and reshaping the breasts. The procedure also has very high patient satisfaction rates, for good reason. After surgery, my patients report an almost immediate improvement in back and shoulder pain in addition to newfound feelings of relief and self-confidence.
Budgeting for Breast Reduction: Things to Know About Insurance Coverage & Paying for Plastic Surgery
While overly large breasts can take quite a physical toll and may lead to chronic pain or other medical issues, very few insurance providers will cover breast reduction surgery—and meeting the strict criteria of insurance providers can be exceedingly difficult.
However, there are still affordable options for receiving quality care from an experienced surgeon. Most reputable plastic surgery practices work with third-party healthcare credit providers, enabling you to schedule surgery right away and then pay over time, with affordable monthly payments.
It is crucial to avoid “budget shopping” for a plastic surgeon. While staying within your personal means and avoiding financial strain is important, choosing a surgeon just because he or she offers the lowest cost is never wise. Instead, find a surgeon who is board certified in plastic surgery and with whom you feel comfortable; together, you can discuss your payment and financing options so you can move forward with surgery confidently.
Your Breast Reduction Surgery
The specifics of your surgery will depend on a number of factors, including:
- The current size of your breasts
- The location of your nipples
- What sagging, if any, needs to be addressed
- Your ideal final breast size
During your consultation with your surgeon, you will first have a chance to speak with the doctor about your goals and concerns. Next, you’ll be given time to change into a gown and be examined by the doctor with a nurse present. The surgeon will let you know what they recommend, and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions. If you aren’t comfortable with the surgeon or their recommendations, seek out additional consults. It’s very important to find a surgeon with whom you feel comfortable and that you can trust.
Typically, breast reduction is performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia. Because anesthesia is key to your safety during surgery, I recommend making sure any doctor you choose works only with board certified anesthesiologists in an accredited surgical center or hospital. Once you are properly anesthetized, your plastic surgeon will likely take one of two classic approaches to the breast reduction procedure:
- Vertical or “Lollipop” incision, which involves one incision placed around the outside edges of the areola and a second incision running vertically from the bottom of your areola to the natural crease under your breast, in the shape of a lollipop. This technique is often recommended for those who only want a modest reduction in size or want to address more noticeable breast sagging.
- Inverted-T or “Anchor” technique requires three incisions: one around the outer edge of the areola, one from the areola down to the inframammary fold, and the third along your natural breast fold, creating an anchor shape. This is most often recommended for women who will benefit from a significant reduction in size.
Through the incisions, excess fat and breast tissue will be removed to help sculpt a smaller and more flattering breast mound. Often, the nipple areolar complex will be repositioned to a higher location to complement the new shape and size of the breast.
Once your surgeon has reshaped your breast tissue, he will carefully suture and dress your incisions, and you will finally be taken to a private room for initial recovery. Once the effects of your anesthesia have worn off, you will be released to return home the same day. Note that you’ll be given medication to control discomfort and thus will be required to have a designated driver take you home.
Getting Back to Running After Breast Reduction
The question I hear most often from my active patients is, “when can I start running again?” The good news is that while you’ll definitely need to spend some time relaxing and letting your body heal, you might not be banned from the gym for as long as you may think. Here’s what to expect from your recovery:
The first week you will be feeling pretty sore, with signs of improvement beginning around the 5 day mark. You will need to take it easy, so plan on binge-watching your favorite things on Netflix for a few days. Your surgeon will send you home with a prescription pain medication, though most of my patients are comfortable enough to switch to an over-the-counter alternative within the first week. You may also begin driving and return to a desk job around this time.
Week two will come with more comfort, the ability to start lifting your arms, and more stamina, but you’ll still need to avoid strenuous activity. You may feel up to short walks at this point, but don’t push yourself—you do not want do anything to strain your healing incisions.
Weeks three to five is when you’ll start feeling more like yourself, and you’ll likely get clearance from your surgeon to slowly resume light exercise and start building up to your normal routine. It’s crucial to take your surgeon’s advice to heart and not overdo it.
Five to eight weeks out is when you’ll start recouping some of your strength and increasing your activity. In my experience, you’ll find this transition natural—before the four week mark, running will probably be the last thing on your mind. As you start, you’ll be surprised just how soon you are able to regain your strength and resume your normal routine…without the added physical stress of large breasts!
Choosing the Right Plastic Surgeon in Denver
If you’d like to learn more about breast reduction surgery, or you’re ready to get started right away, the most important decision to be made is who will be performing your surgery. To achieve beautiful results safely, it’s important to choose a board certified plastic surgeon who is experienced in breast reduction surgery and operates in a safe environment.
For those located in or around Denver, I would love to meet with you for a private consultation. Contact my office to find out how we can help you enjoy your active lifestyle without the discomfort or burden of overly large breasts. I’ve worked with thousands of breast surgery patients over the years and have built my practice around helping you look and feel your absolute best.
About the Author: Dr. Gregory Buford is a Englewood-based board certified plastic surgeon who specializes in non-invasive and cosmetic plastic surgery procedures. He is renowned for his expertise in breast enhancement surgery and he has performed more than 4,000 breast-related procedures over the course of his career. Dr. Buford has published several leading white papers on plastic surgery and is a premier expert trainer in the industry, leading CME courses and training seminars.