Breast reduction surgery (reduction mammoplasty) is a surgical procedure that decreases the volume of tissue in large breasts. The operation is also designed to reshape, tighten and lift the breast. The procedure is commonly performed for medical reasons to alleviate the symptoms of breast hypertrophy, a condition often suffered by women with extremely large breasts. There are a number of symptoms associated with breast hypertrophy. Among the most common symptoms are back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, skin grooves where the brassiere straps rub into the shoulder, skin rash beneath the breasts (intertrigo) and numbing of the little and ring fingers (ulnar paresthesias). Following the operation, women usually experience a significant improvement in these symptoms.
Women also frequently undergo the procedure because they feel self-conscious about the size of their breasts and wish to enhance their self-esteem and also expand their fashion choices. After having a breast reduction, women frequently describe an improvement in their self-confidence as well as comfort when participating in physical activities.
Who is a Good Candidate for Breast Reduction?
A woman is typically considered a good candidate for breast reduction surgery if she is healthy overall but experiencing the following:
- Breasts that are too large in proportion to the rest of her body
- Back, neck and/or shoulder pain due to large, heavy breasts
- Poor posture due to large, heavy breasts
- Rashes and/or infections underneath the breasts from trapped bacteria
- Grooves in the shoulder from bra straps supporting heavy breasts
- Trouble sleeping or engaging in physical activity due to large breast size
- Trouble finding clothing that fits correctly due to having large breasts
The Breast Reduction Procedure
Breast reduction surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia and takes from two to three hours to perform, depending on the size of the breast. In young, healthy patients with moderately large breasts, it can be an outpatient procedure. Older patients, those with health problems or women undergoing extremely large breast reductions are advised to remain in the hospital for an overnight stay.
There are different techniques used in breast reduction surgery that require different patterns of incisions. The technique chosen depends on the size of the breasts, how much ptosis (sagging) is present and the goals for the operation. These details are discussed with the patient prior to the surgery. For breasts that are moderately large and have moderate ptosis, a keyhole incision (an incision that goes around the areola and vertically down the center of the breast) is often used. Breasts that are very large and have significant ptosis may require an anchor incision, which is a keyhole incision pattern with an additional horizontal incision made along the breast crease.
Once the incision or incisions are made, excess breast tissue, fat and skin are removed and the remaining tissue is lifted and shaped. In most cases, the nipple and areola remain attached during this procedure, however in cases where breasts are large and pendulous, the nipple and areola may need to be removed and reattached to a higher position on the breast. Once the procedure is finished, the doctor will close the incisions with sutures.
Recovery from Breast Reduction Surgery
Immediately following surgery, a surgical bra or gauze bandages will cover the breasts in order to protect the incision areas and provide support to the breasts as they heal. Drainage tubes may be used to remove excess fluids in the area, and will be removed by the doctor after a few days to a week. Sutures will be removed by the doctor within the first two weeks of surgery.
The chest will be swollen and bruised for the first week or so following the surgery. Doctor-prescribed medication will be provided to alleviate any discomfort. Sleeping with the upper body elevated will help reduce swelling. The patient should refrain from lifting anything over five pounds for the first week or two. Most people can return to work within one to two weeks following surgery for a sedentary job, and longer for more physically taxing work. Light exercise that doesn’t involve lifting or stress on the chest can be resumed after the first week. More strenuous exercise will take longer to resume, around three to four weeks post-surgery.
Want to Learn More? Schedule a Complimentary Consultation
Breast reduction surgery is an important personal decision, and one that should be made after having a good understanding of all that the procedure entails. For this reason, we at Allure Plastic Surgery are committed to educating our patients using the latest information available on plastic surgery. During your personal consultation we will provide you with a thorough explanation of the procedure and perform detailed breast measurements to determine if you are a suitable candidate for the procedure. You may also be shown videos or photos explaining the surgery and given literature describing the operation to further enhance your education on the subject. To schedule your complimentary consultation, please contact us today by calling (305) 224-8015.