Study co-author Dr. Jason Spector, a plastic surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, found that breast reductions of less than 500 grams, or 17.5 ounces, per breast greatly eased women's back, neck and shoulder pain.
The study, published online in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, also found the procedures improved the women's quality of life by allowing them to exercise more, play sports and choose from a wider variety of clothing.
"Smaller women are going to have proportionally smaller breasts, but for their particular frame, their breasts may still be far too large and uncomfortable," said Spector in a statement.
The study of 59 women involved the surgical removal of 415 grams, or 14.5 ounces, of breast tissue per breast, for an average breast reduction of just over two bra cup sizes.
Three months and one year after surgery, the women reported less lower-back pain, neck pain, headache and bra-strap "grooving."
"Studies like this are needed if we are ever going to reverse the arbitrary ceiling the insurance industry has in place in terms of reimbursing breast reduction surgeries," Spector said.