Breast reductions are increasingly in demand and on display on TikTok
In the USA, the number of breast reduction surgeries performed increased by 54% between 2019 and 2022.
Social media seems to have played a part in propelling a rising wave in breast reduction procedures among women. Photography LightFieldStudios / Getty Images©
Backaches, shoulder pain, discomfort, difficulties wearing certain garments or taking part in sporting activities … there are many reasons why women opt for breast reduction surgery.
Amanda DeBoer had such a procedure and revealed her before and after self on TikTok in a variety of outfits. For her, the procedure provided relief, describing it as “a literal weight off [her] shoulders”.
“No more back pain, no more neck pain, no more shoulder pain, no more pain from working out, my clothes fit better,” are among the personal benefits Payton Renee lists. And there are thousands of videos like this.
Dr Sanjay Warrier – a Sydney, Australia-based surgeon and consultant specialising in breast surgery – has noticed a marked increase in the number of women requesting this procedure at his practice.
Typically, patients turn to it because they have suffered for years.
“Many patients with large breasts, who seek breast reduction surgery, report they have suffered for years with back and shoulder pain,” he explains in a New York Post article.
In the USA, breast reduction is also increasingly in demand. In 2022, some 71,364 procedures were carried out compared with 46,340 in 2019 – an increase of 54%.
“This may indicate a broader trend of individuals seeking balance and proportionality valuing both comfort and aesthetics in their transformation journey,” says the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
Because beyond resolving one or more medical or aesthetic problems, for many women such a procedure brings a more general sense of well-being. For several, breast reduction has helped them build up self-confidence, thanks in particular to the ability to wear more types of clothing without feeling self-conscious.
The pandemic effect and the Tiktok effect
According to the ASPS, several factors all more or less linked to the health crisis explain the increase in women seeking such an operation. Since the pandemic, people have become more attentive to their comfort, well-being and mental health.
For some women, the size of their breasts plays a role, figuring as a source of discomfort in their daily lives. The pandemic has also raised awareness of the need to adopt a healthier lifestyle, including being more physically active. But some women feel constrained by their breasts when they exercise.
A study published last month in JPRAS Open (the Journal of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons), showed that women with large breasts tend to exercise less and avoid high-intensity exercise.
Furthermore, of the 2,000 women surveyed in Australia, England and South Africa, those who had undergone breast reduction reported a healthier, more active lifestyle.
“Our study found that breast size affects exercise habits and breast reduction surgery changes their willingness to exercise,” said Dr Claire Baxter, lead author of the study, in a statement.
Social media and the surge of breast reduction procedures
The ASPS also points to the effect of TikTok in the rise of this operation, citing “the power of digital narratives”.
According to the ASPS, social networks encourage “candid conversations”. Women who have opted for a breast reduction are telling their stories and posting before-and-after videos.
They testify to the benefits of this procedure, and don’t shy away from evoking the post-op pain.
Above all, they serve as a source of information for those considering surgery themselves.
“While the choice to undergo a procedure is deeply personal and individualised, this collective spike in numbers suggests an intersection of personal well-being, medical advancements and the digital age’s power in sharing personal narratives and transformative journeys,” explains the ASPS.
Despite an increase in breast reduction operations, it should be noted requests for breast augmentation remain more numerous.
The ASPS counted 298,568 procedures in 2022 versus 287,085 in 2019.
“Breast augmentation has been one of the most popular cosmetic procedures since 2006.”
It is one of the five most commonly performed plastic surgery procedures in the United States, along with liposuction, tummy tuck, breast lift and eyelid surgery.