Breast Health: Is a Pink or Gray Barrier Affecting Your Quality of Life?

Ten years ago my then-72-year-old mom came to me for help and shared that she had spent years concealing a painful breast condition. Fortunately, she did not have breast cancer. Unfortunately, no equivalent pink-ribboned industry exists for education and funding for the non-cancerous breast conditions that she and many other women face.

When we sat down to talk, however, she had a new advantage going for her. The previous year, my group founded, a non-profit to help women address the breast conditions that are not supported by “pink funding.” My mom admitted that she had stabbing back pain, numbness and tingling down her arms and hands, crushing bruises over her collar bones and painful, sticky rashes beneath her breasts. Her disproportionately large breasts were causing her physical and psychological pain on a daily basis. Unfortunately, no doctor, including her gynecologist, ever addressed this over all the decades in which she suffered.

Many conditions like this are not age-specific, but for women age 50 and older it usually means they’ve suffered longer and have endured further damage along the way. With no major funding for patient education, many women will live out their lives without any relief.

My mom is not alone. Many women don’t realize there is medical help available. If they are aware of the procedures that could help them, some may be affected by the “gray barrier”, thinking they’re too old or that it’s too late. Worse, health-care providers are often reluctant to broach the topic, despite the fact that disproportionately large breasts are medically recognized and covered. What women age 50 and older and of reasonably good health need to know is that these procedures are available, safe and appropriate within their age group. The benefits are improved health and self-esteem, resulting in an increased quality of life after so many years of suffering.

Statistics were not available from the Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, but in the United States last year, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that more than half of the 85,000 breast reductions performed were for women 40 and older. A third of those were for women 55 and older.

While medical care for these conditions does exist, proper information and knowledgeable self care is imperative if a woman is to experience a successful surgery, recovery and outcome. has proven invaluable to women, including many in their 50s, 60s and 70s.

One of the most frequently asked questions from women age 50 and older is how well they will heal in relation to their age. Our experience in the last decade has echoed what top plastic surgeon Dr. Grant Stevens of Marina del Rey, California, taught us in our early days. Recoveries for patients between the ages of 20 and the late 70s remain stable and consistent across the board. We’ve also discovered that more mature patients have far less scarring and healing problems than their younger counterparts.

My mom, now 82, experienced a flawless recovery and has enjoyed the last ten years without the pain and encumbrances she struggled with for so many decades in the past. These conditions are clearly worth looking into for the life-changing benefits that can be achieved. It’s not too late to greatly improve your life.

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