Did you know May was National Correct Your Posture Month? Posture isn’t just about having a certain appearance; it’s also important to your health. Good posture supports your organs for a healthy, functioning system. It’s also key to avoiding pain as you age since poor posture can affect the back, knees, and neck, as well as create issues throughout the musculoskeletal system.
While some people are able to use exercise and alignment to improve their posture, others have underlying issues that exacerbate posture problems. Here at my plastic surgery office in Honolulu, I often see patients with posture issues stemming from low self esteem, which will cause a patient to hunch over, as well as from functional issues created by separated abdominal muscles (diastasis recti) or heavy breast tissue. In this post, I’ll explain how breast reduction, breast augmentation, and tummy tuck surgery are all well-suited to treating posture issues and helping patients improve their self-image.
Breast reduction, also known as reduction mammaplasty, can improve posture and relieve strain in the back, shoulders, and neck by reducing the size of overly-large breasts (a condition known as hypertrophy). When possible, I prefer to use liposuction to remove excess fat in the breasts because it speeds up recovery time and minimizes scarring.
A 2014 study in the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery journal documented 22 breast reduction patients before and after their surgery. Prior to surgery, all 22 patients experienced forward straining of the neck (cervical lordosis), forward rounding of the upper spine (thoracic kyphosis), and inward curvature of the lower spine (lumbar lordosis). After their breast reduction surgery, all 22 patients experienced improvements in their neck and upper spine, and 7 saw improvements to their lower spine. Additionally, researchers noted a 41% reduction in forward pelvic tilt and a 30% improvement in forward spine flexion (bent-over spine).
Large breasts can make it difficult to exercise and wear certain clothing, feel embarrassing for the patient, and, unfortunately, often bring unwanted attention. The mental and emotional toll that accompany these issues can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and inadequacy. Many women report feeling less encumbered and more confident after breast reduction surgery, as evidenced here, here, and here.
Breast augmentation is consistently the most popular cosmetic procedure I offer, and for good reason. While many women undergo this surgery to enhance their appearance, breast augmentation can also have the desirable side effects of improving one’s posture and increasing self-confidence.
In a 2012 Aesthetic Plastic Surgery study, researchers observed postural changes in 48 patients, analyzing their position, center of gravity, orientation, and center of pressure. They found that breast augmentation surgery can improve one’s posture by causing slight retro positioning (backward tilting) in the upper part of the body and head, and a compensatory forward positioning of the pelvis.
The psychological effects of breast augmentation have been well-documented; a key reason women seek breast enhancement is to improve self-image issues caused by having underdeveloped breast tissue (a condition known as hypoplasia). The Aesthetic Plastic Surgery study confirmed this, explaining how hypoplasia can lead to an exaggerated rounding of the spine in women trying to hide what they consider to be a breast deficiency.
The study acknowledged that while breast augmentation can correct posture due to changes in body mass and gravity, the self-confidence incurred from the procedure alone can be enough to improve neck and spine issues. This is because breast augmentation patients may have an increased tendency to pull their shoulders back and position their chests forward to “show off” their results.
Tummy tuck surgery, clinically referred to as abdominoplasty, tightens abdominal muscles, removes excess belly fat, and smooths skin on the stomach. By strengthening the abdominal muscles, a tummy tuck can increase overall support for the spine, helping you sit and stand straighter. In addition to making you appear taller and slimmer, a tummy tuck can also improve lower back pain.
According to a study in the journal Hernia, researchers found that excess abdominal skin and abdominal wall weakness are often associated with an exaggerated forward rounding of the back, a condition called kyphosis. They cited these issues as side effects of people trying to hide their protruding bellies.
Similar to both breast reduction and augmentation surgeries, researchers in the Hernia study concluded that tummy tuck surgery “eliminates dissatisfaction, reduces anxiety and increases self-esteem, which provide psychological and physical benefits that improve the quality of life.” Essentially, tummy tuck surgery makes it physically easier for patients to sit and stand up straighter, but their improved self-image may also contribute to better posture.
One common (yet often overlooked) cause of poor posture is diastasis recti, an embarrassing condition in which the abdominal muscles separate, causing the stomach to protrude. Tummy tuck surgery can correct diastasis recti by tightening the inside and outside of the abdominal wall. Repairing diastasis recti not only can restore a firmer, flatter abdominal shape but can also alleviate and prevent issues such as hernias and stress incontinence.
Find out if you can benefit from a breast augmentation, breast reduction, or tummy tuck by scheduling a personal consultation with me at my Honolulu office. As a board certified plastic surgeon in Hawaii, I have helped patients improve their posture and enhance their quality of life through plastic surgery for over 20 years. Contact my office online or call (808) 597-8835 to learn more.