Complications of Heavy Breasts

The old adage “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” certainly holds true when it comes to large breasts. While onlookers may find them attractive, large breasts can be a painful burden for the women who sport them. 

If you have heavy breasts and are tired of carrying the weight and struggling to buy clothes that fit, you’ve likely considered breast reduction surgery. But you may not know that overly large breasts aren’t just an inconvenience; they can cause some serious physical complications as well.

Dr. Rick J. Smith, one of the most experienced and trusted board-certified plastic surgeons in the greater East Lansing, Michigan, area, explains the physical side effects of living with oversized breasts and discusses what you should know about breast reduction surgery.

Reasons for considering breast reduction surgery

Some people may say that bigger is better, but you know the truth — big breasts are a big problem. And it’s not just about wardrobe limitations and unwanted attention — large breasts can cause physical damage. Here are the most common medical problems associated with heavy breasts.


Having large breasts is like living with a backpack full of rocks, only you wear it in the front — every minute of every day. The excess weight constantly strains your neck and shoulders and throws your center of gravity forward, which strains your back as well. 


Your breasts contain a complicated network of nerves that provide sensitivity. But heavy breasts may compress those nerves and deaden the sensation. They may even cause nerve damage that affects your arms, hands, and fingers, producing symptoms of tingling or numbness.


It’s unavoidable — large, heavy breasts cover your upper rib cage and abdomen. That skin-to-skin contact traps perspiration, which creates a perfect environment for heat rash and yeast and bacterial infections to thrive. 

Grooved shoulders

Even if you’re fortunate enough to find a bra that fits and supports your heavy breasts, your shoulders still carry the bulk of the weight. Bra straps dig into the skin and, over time, leave lasting grooves.

Limited exercise

Many large-breasted women complain about the inability to participate in a wide range of exercise because their heavy breasts bounce, rub, or simply weigh too much. If this causes you to forego exercise, you’re at risk for weight gain and other complications of a sedentary lifestyle. 

Shortness of breath

For some women, the sheer weight of their heavy breasts can make it difficult to breathe. Lying or sleeping on your back may make it worse.

Is breast reduction surgery right for you?

As long as you’re physically healthy and have realistic expectations of breast reduction surgery, you’re likely a good candidate. Dr. Smith discusses all your options, lets you know what to expect, and makes sure you understand the risks and benefits of the procedure. 

Each woman’s breasts and aesthetic goals are unique, so your surgery is, too. While you’re under general anesthesia, Dr. Smith makes strategic incisions that allow him to remove excess fat, skin, and glandular tissue. During the process, he may resize and reposition your areola to match your reduced breast size. The various techniques he may use include:

Once he removes excess tissue, Dr. Smith may reshape each breast to ensure they are symmetrical and natural-looking. He takes great care to make small incisions in locations where scars will be less noticeable, but they won’t be completely hidden.

Expect your breast reduction surgery to last about 3-5 hours. Most women can go home the same day of their surgery. We give you detailed aftercare instructions, including how to care for the drains and incisions, pain management, activity limitations, and what to watch for. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. 

In about 6-10 weeks, you should feel more like yourself again, without the extra burden of oversized breasts. By the 6-month milestone, you are free to engage in all activities and enjoy your new breasts fully. 

To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us at Rick J. Smith, MD, today. 

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