Doctors don’t know why more women, and in particular more young women, are opting for breast reductions. Some studies suggest that people are reaching puberty earlier, and the obesity epidemic is affecting breast size, Labow says. “And then there’s the whole environmental estrogen story,” he adds. Environmental estrogens, often called xenoestrogens, are substances that mimic the hormone our bodies naturally produce, which is known to influence breast size. These chemicals are often found in pesticides, plastics, and meat from animals that have been given steroid hormone drugs to speed up growth. “Is there estrogen in our soy? Is there estrogen in our various food products, chicken or cows? Are we putting in artificial or synthetic estrogen? I really don’t know.”
Perhaps it’s that the surgery itself is getting easier. “This is almost a day surgical procedure,” Labow says, recalling a patient who came in at 5:30 p.m. for her reduction and went home the same night. When I had my reduction done nine years ago, surgery lasted approximately four hours, and I stayed in the hospital for another 24.