Female Breast Reduction
Breast reduction, also known as reduction mammoplasty, is designed to reduce the size of a woman’s breasts. It may also improve the overall appearance or shape of the breast and help balance breast asymmetries. Heavy breasts can lead to a number of physical complaints such as neck, shoulder and back pain experienced by many women with large breasts. Apart from the physical challenges, women with overly large breasts usually face an emotional burden. These women can also feel self-conscious and insecure.
Breast reduction candidates include:
- Individuals whose breasts are too large in proportion to their body
- Individuals who experience back, neck and shoulder pain, which is caused by heavy breasts
- Individuals who have grooves in their shoulders caused by tight bra straps
- Individuals who have heavy breasts that droop significantly, with downward pointing nipples and areolas
- Breasts that are not equal in size and are too large
- Individuals who have rashes and/or infection affecting the skin trapped underneath one’s breasts
- Individuals who are unable to participate in athletic/physical activities due to their breast size
Breast reduction surgery is when the skin along with breast tissue and fat are removed to create smaller, shapelier breasts. There are a few incision options your plastic surgeon can use when performing breast reduction surgery. The first incision option would be a keyhole or lollipop shaped pattern incision around the areola and vertically down to the breast crease. The other incision option is an inverted T or anchor-shaped incision pattern.
After the decided incision is made, the nipple is repositioned. An added benefit where ptosis (drooping) exists is a simultaneous uplift of the nipple areola complex to a more normal position. The areola (darker skin which surrounds the nipple) may also be reduced in size and made more symmetric. Underlying breast tissue is then removed, lifted and shaped. Once this is complete, the incisions are brought together to reshape the now smaller breast. Sutures are placed within the breast tissue to support the newly shaped breasts. Sutures, adhesives and surgical tape are also used to close the skin. The incision lines used will eventually fade over time.
Length of Surgery
Breast reduction surgery take between 3 -5 hours.
Recovery, Risks and Results
Once your breast reduction surgery is complete, bandages and dressings will be applied to the incision sites. A support bra will be worn to help minimize swelling and support the newly shaped breasts through the healing process. A tube may be placed under your skin to drain any excess blood or fluid. This is temporary and will be removed within 7 – 10 days.
Your plastic surgeon will give you instructions for breast reduction recovery that will include how to care for your breasts and incision lines, which medications to take orally and apply topically. You will also be informed of when you should follow up with your plastic surgeon.
Some of the risks of breast reduction surgery include:
- Unfavorable scarring
- Changes in nipple or breast sensation
- Poor wound healing
- Breast contour and shape irregularities
- Breast asymmetry
- Potential inability to breastfeed
- Potential loss of nipple, areola or breast skin
- Persistent pain
It is also important to know that breast reduction surgery may change how your mammogram looks. Your ability to breastfeed following breast reduction surgery may be limited.
Your results of breast reduction surgery will be long-lasting. Pain and physical limitations that you experienced prior to breast reduction surgery, should be improved. Your body will be more proportionate which will likely boost your self confidence. It is important to remember breasts can change over time due to natural aging, changes in weight, gravity and hormonal factors.
Breast reduction surgery can be covered by insurance, but must have prior authorization and meet specific criteria. The insurance companies dictate how much breast tissue must be removed for the procedure to be covered. Breast reduction can also be done as a cosmetic procedure with the patient choosing how much tissue to remove.