Breast reduction surgery reduces breast size by removing excess breast tissue—breast fat and glandular tissue, as well as skin, to reduce the discomfort associated with excessively large breasts, and to make breasts proportionate to the rest of your body. For many patients this is a life changing operation, making women more comfortable emotionally and physically.
Common Symptoms of Excessively Large Breasts
- Back, neck, and or shoulder pain
- Grooving or indentation in the shoulders from bra straps
- Limitation of physical activity due to breast size
- Nipples are situated more toward the bottom the breast and below the fold beneath the breast
- Stretch marks and enlarged areola
- Numbness in the fingers especially the ring and little fingers
What Does Breast Reduction Surgery Do?
- Removes breast tissue, usually a combination of fat and glandular tissue
- Removes Excess skin from lower part of breast
- Reduces the size of the nipple areola complex
- Repositions the nipple areola complex
- Reshapes the breast
- Alleviates back, shoulder and neck pain
- Relieves symptoms associated with the weight of drooping or pendulous breasts
Techniques of Breast Reduction Surgery
There are several techniques used in breast reduction surgery. The technique used depends on the size of your breasts, the degree of reduction, and the recommendation of your surgeon. Breast reduction techniques generally include incisions that result in a circular scar around the areola, a vertical scar extending from the six o’clock position of the areola to the inframammary crease (fold under the breast) and depending on technique, a scar with in the fold beneath the breast. These scars are permanent. A patient’s skin type, genetics, and a variety of other factors determine the final appearance of the scars. Most patients find the tradeoff of the scars a small price to pay for the benefits of the surgery. A very small per cent of patients have their breast reduced by liposuction. These patients tend to be young, desiring relatively small reductions and have skin with good elasticity. Liposuction can be usually be performed through one or two tiny incisions beneath the breast.
Will I Be Able To Breast Feed After Breast Reduction Surgery?
The statistics vary depending on the source. Approximately 50% of breast reduction patients may be able to breast feed. That said there is no way to predict which patients will be able to breast feed. If breast feeding is a high priority then it might be best to wait until you are not planning any future pregnancies.
Deciding Whether Breast Reduction is Right For You.
Schedule a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon. He/She will discuss what bothers you, what your expectations are, surgical techniques, as well as recovery, potential risks, complication and benefits to help you make an informed decision.
Preparation for Surgery
- General physical examination and laboratory work
- Medical clearance if you have any underlying medical problems
- Mammography based on age and/or a maternal family history of breast cancer
- Time off from work- one week for non-physically demanding jobs; two plus weeks for physically demanding jobs
- Arrange for someone to pick you up from surgery and stay with you the first night and the next day
- Delegate household and child care responsibilities
Surgery and Anesthesia
Breast reduction surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia. Depending on breast size, degree of reduction, surgical technique and your surgeon, the surgery may take between two to greater than four hours. When surgery is complete you are taken to the recovery room until you are fully awake and ready for discharge. You may have thin tubes that drain fluid and collect into a receptacle. These drains can usually be removed in one to three days.
Most patients find recovery from breast reduction surgery very manageable. Prescriptions are given for medication to relieve pain. For many patients, after the first three or four days, Tylenol is sufficient. You’ll also be given prescriptions for antibiotics and antinausea medication, should you experience nausea from the anesthesia. You can shower one or two days after surgery even if you have drains, surgeon permitting. There will be swelling as with most surgical procedures, as well as some bruising. Most of the swelling will dissipate over the first few weeks after surgery. Patients can return to work after the first week and resume most of their normal day to day activities. After two weeks, you can begin light exercise and return to most physical activities within four weeks after surgery.