Breast reduction is a combination reconstructive and aesthetic body contouring procedure. It relieves the musculoskeletal symptoms from large hanging breasts as well as lifts and reshapes it higher up on the chest wall. While it does so a the expense of anchor-pattern scars of some length, it is a tremendously effective operation for the large breasted woman.
One of the classic physical signs of breasts that are too heavy for one’s body frame is the presence of shoulder grooves. These occur from the compression of the bra straps on the skin from the weight of the breasts in a bra. Shoulder grooves occur partially from fat atrophy from the constant compression of the bra straps compressing it down on the muscle. They can occur as quite striking and deep on some patients, particularly those with very large breasts.
An interesting question is whether shoulder grooves resolve/go away after a breast reduction. In theory they should go away as the weight of the breasts is relieved on the supporting bra straps. There are, however, no studies which have ever evaluated the resolution of these after breast reduction surgery. Since their presence partly occurs from fat atrophy one could presume that they will persist even after a successful reduction and lift of the breasts.
A treatment for shoulder grooving at the time of breast reduction surgery is fat grafting. Fat harvested from the abdomen can be used to inject into the shoulder grooves. These are beneficial in the deepest of shoulder grooves. It usually takes 20cc to 30cc of concentrated fat into each shoulder groove.
Initial fat take is fairly good and many will show good persistence out at six months after surgery. While the pressure of a bra strap is never completely negated and is certainly not a favorable feature for fat graft persistence, it does not appear to have a completely adverse effect on fat grafting to the shoulder grooves.
Dr. Barry Eppley