What is Breast Reduction?
Breast reduction is a cosmetic procedure that is recommended for women who have overly large breasts. In most cases, the breasts are significantly out of proportion with the patient’s frame. This leads to many issues, such as pain and difficulty with activities of daily living. Reduction mammaplasty, as it is often referred to, removes excess breast tissue, fat and skin.
What are the Benefits of Breast Reduction Surgery?
- Eliminates excess breast weight that may cause pain in the shoulders, neck and back
- Enhances ability to use proper body mechanics and ergonomics
- Improves body proportions
- Better fitting bras and clothing
- May reduce chronic irritation and tenderness that are caused by bras that dig into the skin
Am I a Candidate for Breast Reduction Surgery?
The best candidates for breast reduction are women who:
- Have physical discomfort related to the size of their breasts
- Experience emotional issues due to their overly large breasts, such as feeling self-conscious
- Are unable to perform daily tasks due to the breasts being cumbersome
- Have poor posture and body mechanics related to excess breast weight
- Are healthy and have a current mammogram that shows no abnormalities
How Do I Choose a Plastic Surgeon for My Breast Reduction?
Choosing a plastic surgeon for your breast reduction surgery is an important part of the decision that you will make with moving forward with reduction surgery. The surgeon should have the experience and expertise to perform the procedure to your individual needs and desires. While cost may be a factor, it should not be the sole foundation in your choice of surgeon. Some of the ways that you can find the best suited plastic surgeon for your reduction mammaplasty is to look for:
- Board certification in plastic surgery
- Reviews from patients who have had the procedure
- Online photo galleries that show before and after pictures for breast reduction
- Personal comfort with the surgeon because he or she performs this surgery on a regular basis.
- A collaborative consultation that balances the surgeon’s recommendations with what helps you feel confident about the procedure and outcome
Your Reduction Mammaplasty Consultation
Your plastic surgeon should offer appointments for consultations for reduction surgery so that you can learn more about the procedure and find out if you are a good candidate. The consultation will help you gather information that helps you make an informed decision.
Questions to Ask the Plastic Surgeon
- What is your experience with breast procedures and breast reduction?
- How often do you perform breast reduction surgery?
- Do you have before and after pictures of recent breast reduction patients?
- How would you describe your aesthetic style and approach to plastic surgery and reduction mammaplasty procedures?
- How do you manage situations where the patient is not satisfied with the results of a procedure?
- Do you have special training in breast procedure and plastic surgery?
- What do you anticipate as the results of my reduction mammaplasty?
These questions are good starting points during the consultation appointment. You should feel comfortable in asking follow-up questions with the plastic surgeon, and the surgeon should speak openly and candidly about the topics that you discuss using language that is easy for you to understand.
Breast Reduction Surgery
Your plastic surgeon will determine the best surgical technique for your breast reduction surgery. These techniques may be modified slightly to accommodate your anatomy and cosmetic goals.
Liposuction to Reduce Breast Size
Not every patient requires extensive plastic surgery to reduce breast size. If you have good elasticity to your skin and only need small amounts of fat removed, your plastic surgeon may recommend liposuction. The procedure requires only very small incisions that typically heal without sutures. Scars are minimal and rarely noticeable. Once the incisions are made, a thin, flexible tube is inserted into the fat layer. The fat cells are removed via suction. Liposuction can be performed using various technologies that help to loosen, dislodge and even melt the fat to ease removal. These technologies aim to reduce patient downtime and tissue trauma.
“Lollipop” Incision for Reduction Mammaplasty
A “lollipop” incision goes around the areola and then follows a vertical line from the bottom of the areola to the natural breast crease. This technique is most often used for women who only need a moderate amount of reduction to the breasts. Once the incision is made, the surgeon removes excess fat, breast tissue and skin. This technique was developed by French Plastic Surgeons to create very round and beautiful shape.
“Anchor” Incision for Reduction Mammaplasty
The “anchor” incision is used for patients who need the greatest degree of reduction. This involves three separate incisions. The incision begins with the “lollipop” incision and adds a third incision along the breast crease. This incision pattern allows the surgeon to remove the most tissue and fat while reshaping the breast.
Nipple and Areola Reduction
Your plastic surgeon may recommend reducing the size of your areola and nipples as part of your reduction mammaplasty. This is primarily cosmetic in nature and helps the breasts look more balanced in appearance. Nipple reduction may help with some symptoms, such as sensitivity and chafing that is caused by bras and clothing.
Breast Reduction and Lift
Your plastic surgeon may recommend a combination reduction mammaplasty with breast lift which is performed in almost every breast reduction. . The breast lift of the surgery reorients the breasts so that they appear lifted and the nipples are centered behind center portion of the breast. Breast reduction and lifting is most appropriate for women with overly large breasts that have a droop component.
Breast Reduction Recovery Time
In most cases, reduction mammaplasty is performed on an outpatient basis in a surgical suite or hospital surgical center. Women who need more extensive correction to breast size may need to stay overnight in an aftercare setting for monitoring. You will need someone to drive you home once you are discharged after your surgery.
Your breasts will be covered with post operative bra that is not overly compressive but adds support to hold the tissues in place, protect the sutures and manage any swelling. Cold compresses can be placed gently on the breast area to reduce discomfort and swelling.
If the procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, expect the effects of the anesthesia to last for up to 24 hours. You should have someone available to monitor you and ensure that you follow the post-surgical instructions, including taking medications and watching for signs of bleeding, swelling and discomfort. Your stomach may be sensitive to food for the first day after your surgery. You should eat only bland, soft foods to manage any nausea.
Within three to four days, you will be able to take an shower, but someone should assist you. You should avoid any movements that require you to lift your arms, as this may cause some discomfort and stretch the sutures in your incisions.
What to Expect Post Breast Reduction
Your plastic surgeon schedules follow-up appointments shortly after your surgery and then days and weeks after your reduction mammaplasty. The appointments are used to check healing and determine when you can increase your activity level. Most patients can return to work within one week, but activities must be limited to sitting and performing very basic tasks. Heavy lifting and excessive movement should be avoided. If you have a job that requires physical exertion, you may want to plan to spend a week or two extra at home resting.
Moderate activities, such as exercising, can be resumed about one month after your breast reduction surgery. You should maintain moderation until your body adapts to the increase in activity.
Breast Reduction Scars
As the incisions from your reduction mammaplasty heal, slightly pink raised scars will begin to develop. Over the next 12 months, the scars will decrease in color and flatten. The scars do not completely disappear. You will have scars that are slightly darker than your natural skin color, and the scars are easily hidden under bras and bikini tops.
When Will I See Results of My Reduction Mammaplasty?
You will feel better immediately with less pain and discomfort after your surgery. Swelling will continue to decrease over several months and the shape will improve over time as well. Shopping for new bra’s should be delayed for a few months until the swelling begins to stabilize. You may have some minor swelling for up to 12 months.
How Long Do the Results of Reduction Mammaplasty Last?
Reduction mammaplasty is considered a long-term solution for overly large breasts, but some life events may affect your breasts and require revision surgery, such as pregnancy and aging.
How Will I Look After Reduction Mammaplasty?
- Breasts are smaller and lifted.
- Body proportions are balanced
- Posture is improved
- Nipples are in a higher position on the chest wall
Breast Reduction Surgery Quick Facts
Outcome: Reduction in breast shape and size
Techniques: Liposuction, “lollipop” incision and “anchor” incision
Downtime: At least one to two weeks, moderate exercise typically resumes in one month
Scarring: Liposuction – minimal, “lollipop” and “anchor” produce scarring
Longevity: Considered long-term, but does not prevent effects of pregnancy and aging