If your teenager is interested in breast reduction surgery, she’s probably not the only one in the family feeling some anguish. You have a sense of how she suffers with overly large breasts, plus you have your own concerns at the thought of elective surgery for your girl.
What are the factors to consider?
First and perhaps easiest to evaluate are the physical factors. It’s not unusual for even young women with large breasts to complain about back pain, neck pain, skin rashes and shoulder grooves from bra straps that cut into skin. Unless your daughter is overweight, there’s not much she can do to alleviate these symptoms, and they will get worse over time.
If your daughter is at or near her normal weight, and especially if large breasts don’t run in your family, she might be experiencing what’s called juvenile or virginal hypertrophy. That’s when breasts undergo rapid and sometimes extreme growth (often asymmetry develops also).
Take time to consider the psychological factors as well. It is very common for young women with oversized breasts to feel embarrassed and suffer relentless teasing, staring and sometimes worse. Even if you also have large breasts and managed to deal with the added stress, remember your daughter’s ability to handle the pressure may not be the same as yours, and the problems she’s having may be more extreme.
Evaluate your daughter’s physical and emotional maturity levels. If she is at least 16 years old, preferably a couple years older, she has probably stopped growing and may be a reasonable candidate for breast reduction. Think about whether she’s prone to gaining and losing weight—good surgical results are lasting when weight is stable. You’ll also want to know that she’s considering the procedure for functional reasons first, aesthetic reasons second.
Other factors that may influence you to think breast reduction is not an unreasonable choice for your daughter are her lifestyle, activities and plans. Is she athletically inclined but held back from throwing herself into a sport due to her breasts? Is she headed for college and wanting to gain physical comfort and psychological confidence for her new life?
Just as there may be reasons to consider supporting your daughter’s plastic surgery idea, there are factors that may influence you to counsel her to wait. One obvious reason to delay is if she’s not finished growing. Unless she has an extreme case of juvenile hypertrophy, waiting until her breasts are mature is advisable. As mentioned, her weight should be fairly stable as well.
Take an objective look at your daughter’s overall mental health picture. If she’s depressed or unhappy with her life in general—not just her breasts—it would be a good idea to seek counseling for her before considering a cosmetic procedure.
Finally, there’s breastfeeding to think about. Many women are able to breastfeed after breast reduction, but there’s no guarantee. If breastfeeding is something your daughter has her heart set on, she may want to wait to have surgery until she has children and raises them through their early years.
Breast reduction surgery for teens is not common, but it is a valid option for the right young woman. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, around 3,000 U.S. patients aged 18 and younger elected the procedure in 2009.