Having breasts that are too large for your body can be a literal pain. If you’re suffering from neck, back or shoulder aches, bra grooves or chafing—or if self-consciousness about your breast size is keeping you out of sports or social activities—you’re right that breast reduction surgery may alleviate these problems and help you feel more confident in your appearance.
If you’re bothered by having large breasts, you are not “crazy” for wanting a breast reduction; friends who tell you they’re jealous of your size simply haven’t dealt with the discomfort and unwanted attention. You are also not alone. While most breast reduction patients are adults in their 20s or older, breast reduction is one of the more commonly performed cosmetic surgery procedures for women 18 and under, including many famous faces.
But how do I tell my parents I want a breast reduction?
If you’re under 18 and want breast reduction, sooner or later, you will have to tell a parent or guardian: you need their consent to have surgery. They’ll also need to get involved if you are on their insurance and/or will need their help paying for the procedure.
But talking about your breasts, especially with your parents, isn’t necessarily easy. As cosmetic surgeons, we understand how important it is to feel listened to and understood when discussing such a personal issue—and we also understand the awkward factor involved. Below, we’ve provided tips on how to clear this hurdle and have a meaningful conversation with your parents.
First, understand the special challenges your age presents
While breast reduction can often be performed safely and successfully for patients in their mid teens, many cosmetic surgeons prefer patients wait until they are at least 18 before undergoing the procedure. There are two reasons for this:
- Breast development often continues throughout teen years and may not be complete before your early 20s—probably not what you want to hear if you already feel your breasts are too large, but waiting until you are fully developed can help you avoid potentially needing a second breast reduction in the future.
- Your cosmetic surgeon wants to make sure you are emotionally ready for surgery. A breast reduction can be a very positive experience, but the process can be emotionally taxing as you adjust to your new body shape. You need to show you can handle normal ups and downs of recovery and have realistic expectations about surgery.
This isn’t to say that getting breast reduction before you turn 18 is impossible, especially if your breast size-related symptoms are severe, but you need to be prepared to hear “not yet,” especially if you are in your early teens.
Start by talking to your doctor (or another trusted adult)
If you’re too nervous right now to bring up the topic at home, considering first talking with your doctor. This gives you a safe, confidential space to talk openly about your concerns. A doctor can also give an educated opinion on whether or not breast reduction surgery is appropriate for you based on your breast size, age, and symptoms. You can do this in private, or with your parent in the room with you—whatever makes you most comfortable.
Talking to a qualified professional whom you and your parents trust also shows you are thinking about breast reduction for your health and wellbeing, and not due to peer pressure or a desire to look “perfect.” If you can’t make a doctor’s appointment on your own, you might confide in another trusted adult, such as an aunt, grandparent, coach, or teacher, who can help you broach the subject with your parents and suggest a doctor’s appointment as the next step.
Investigate the breast reduction procedure on your own
Your parents are more likely to take you seriously if you’ve put serious thought into the procedure already. Do your research, and do it thoroughly. Don’t just look at photos or stories about celebrities who’ve had breast reduction—also read up on what’s involved in surgery (including things like incisions, scars, and anesthesia), the potential risks of breast reduction, and what’s required during recovery.
Be savvy about what sources you seek (and believe). Skip Tumblr and stick with reliable information from experienced cosmetic surgeons. A great place to start is our American Board of Cosmetic Surgery breast reduction procedure guide.
Write down what you’ve found out about breast reduction
You know how hard it can be to say the right things when you’re nervous. Even though it’s your parents you are speaking to, you might still be nervous—and you don’t want to leave out any important facts. Writing your thoughts out will help. Some points to jot down:
- Your physical and emotional symptoms, such as back or neck pain, bra chafing or grooves, discomfort during sports, unwanted attention, etc.
- How breast reduction has been shown to help with these symptoms. You can even quote studies and statistics. Your doctor’s office can point you toward some literature, or if you’re feeling studious, you can search PubMed.gov for study summaries.
- What you know about the risks and potential complications with surgery.
- Why you personally want breast reduction and why you believe it is the right option for you.
Now you’re ready to talk to your parents about breast reduction
After researching and organizing your thoughts, it’s time to have the big talk! Begin the conversation by explaining how you feel about your breasts, and what problems they cause for you. Then cite the research you’ve done on breast reduction and why you believe it is a good option for you—making it clear that you have realistic expectations and don’t expect surgery to solve all your problems.
Make your points, but be sure to let your parents talk too. Listen while they voice any concerns, and try not to get defensive—use your research to help address their questions, admit when you don’t know something, and agree to follow up on their questions. Be prepared for them to need a little while to consider your wishes—they want to be sure you are safe and happy and will likely want to think carefully about your having surgery.
Next step: choosing a breast reduction surgeon
Once you’ve talked, you and your parents may be ready to meet with a cosmetic surgeon to learn more about the procedure together. It’s important to choose a surgeon who is trained and experienced in breast reduction for younger patients; your parents can help you find qualified, board certified cosmetic surgeons in your area.
Talking to a surgeon doesn’t mean you have to commit to the procedure at any time—or that you will be given the go-ahead to have surgery—but a reputable cosmetic surgeon will happily and honestly answer your questions and help you learn if breast reduction is right for you.
We hope this guide helps make it a little easier to talk to your parents. Good luck!