How smaller boobs - or moobs - could change your life
Breast reduction is becoming one of the most sought-after plastic surgery procedures in Ireland, and it's not just women who are getting it done.
Male breast reduction is on the increase here too. Male breasts - 'Moobs' - can cause teenage boys and men severe embarrassment and now increasing numbers are seeking help.
Unlike breast augmentation, breast reduction is rarely carried out for cosmetic reasons. In fact, it is usually sought out by desperate people at the end of their tether.
Just this week, Ariel Winter, the 17-year-old star of the hit US sitcom 'Modern Family', bravely revealed that she has undergone breast reduction surgery to take her bra size down from 32F to 34D.
She explained that she was suffering severe neck and back pain as a result of her large breast size.
"I really couldn't stand up straight for a long period of time. It started to hurt so bad that I couldn't take the pain. My neck was hurting so bad and I actually had some problems with my spine," she said. She firmly believes that having the surgery has made her feel better about herself and has benefited her overall health.
Her honesty about the procedure is refreshing and should help lots of young girls who are suffering with the same problem to know that they are not alone and there is a solution. Being a teenager is awkward enough without having to deal with huge breasts that attract unwanted attention, restrict you from wearing fashionable clothes and often from playing sports.
While Winter is on the young side to have had the surgery, girls are going to their doctors at a younger age now for advice and help. Until recently, most women seeking breast reduction in Ireland were waiting until their 40s and 50s, but that is changing.
There is an increased awareness now in Ireland that breast reduction is a straightforward procedure that can be carried out with great success. Instead of suffering a lifetime with chronic neck pain, back pain and shoulder pain, women are now seeking a permanent solution.
The HSE recognises that large breasts can cause psychological distress as well as physical discomfort. A really large-breasted woman can have as much added weight as two kilos on each side. That's the equivalent of two litres of water for each breast - can you imagine carrying that around all day every day? No wonder it causes back pain. It is, however, difficult to get on the list for breast reduction surgery via the HSE. You have to prove that your breasts are causing you serious physical and emotional distress to be considered for the procedure. Their terms are stringent. "The HSE will only undertake cosmetic surgery where a surgeon is satisfied that a valid clinical reason exists to proceed with the surgery for therapeutic purposes," it states.
It's not just women who are seeking help. Gynecomastia is the procedure for male breast reduction, more commonly known as a ''moob job''. The two main causes of enlarged male breasts are benign growth of glandular tissue on male breasts or the accumulation of fatty tissue. During puberty, most teenage boys will develop fatty tissue around the chest or breast area.
Luckily for about 90pc of males, it usually subsides naturally within a year but for the remaining 10pc it can remain with them for the rest of their lives.
As bad as it is for a young woman to have large breasts, it's even more awful for a teenage boy.
A boy I grew up with had 'moobs'. While I was stuffing my bras with toilet paper to increase my bust, he was wearing baggy jumpers to hide his. I remember him being tormented about them.
His chest made him an easy target for bullying. He used to utterly dread getting changed in front of other boys during sports class. He hated summertime too as he couldn't cover up as much.
He spent years begging his parents to let him have a breast reduction and when they finally agreed to it, he was ecstatic. The procedure literally changed his life and gave him back his confidence which had been completely shattered.
This was Ireland back in the 1980s, he was extremely lucky to have had forward-thinking parents.
Thankfully, more parents of teenagers suffering with large breasts now realise that a simple and safe procedure can help boost their child's confidence and stop them being a target for bullying.
Most importantly, the surgery can help anyone, regardless of age or gender, with large breasts to live a happier, healthier and pain-free life.