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By lifting and reducing the size of the breasts, a breast reduction can help alleviate neck and back pain, shoulder strap grooving, skin irritation and sweating on the undersurface of the breasts. Although breast reductions are commonly performed for functional reasons, there is a cosmetic benefit, as well, as the breasts are also lifted into a more youthful position as a part of the standard breast-reduction operation.

Breast reductions are performed through an incision around the areola (the pigmented circle of the breast that surrounds the nipple) and a vertical scar from the areola to the base of the breast. This is called a vertical breast reduction. For larger breast reductions, an incision along the base of the breast – often called a Weiss pattern breast reduction – may also be used.

Health care insurance will cover this operation in patients who are not significantly overweight, but have extremely large breasts who demonstrate symptoms related to large breasts. Some insurance companies require a supportive letter from your primary care doctor to document that a physician who has known you longer thinks that a breast reduction will help your symptoms. If you are overweight, it is important to demonstrate that you have made attempts to first lose weight from your body and breasts through an adequate diet and exercise program. Sometimes, a body mass index (BMI) restriction is imposed so only patients who are of normal body weight will qualify for a breast reduction.


Browse a photo gallery of Washington University Physician patients' before and after photos of Breast Reduction procedures.

To learn more details about breast reduction surgery, or review photos please visit us online at

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