What Is A Breast Reduction?
Breast Reduction, or reduction mammoplasty, is a surgical procedure in which fat, glandular tissue, and skin are removed from the breasts. It is typically performed in women who have large breasts that cause symptoms of back pain, neck pain, shoulder grooving (from bra straps), headaches, poor posture, and even breathing problems leading to reduced exercise tolerance. These symptoms may lead to chronic physical pain, low self-esteem, and discomfort in social situations.
The aim of breast reduction surgeries is to decrease the overall size of the breasts, increase patient comfort, and create a more proportional look to the rest of the body. A breast lift is typically included as part of the procedure. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should wait until completion of breastfeeding before undergoing surgery in order to allow the breasts to shrink and stabilize back to their normal size.
What Is Involved in the Breast Reduction Procedure?
Breast reductions, or reduction mammoplasties, are performed under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis. Depending on the technique used, and the difficulty of each patient’s anatomy and breast size, it takes from 3 to 5 hours to perform. One of the following types of incisions is often used:
- A “lollipop” shape (a ring around the areola with a vertical line down to the breast crease)
- An anchor shape (a “lollipop” shape with an additional incision running along the lower breast crease)
These incisions involve a progressively larger scar. Breasts with more volume and sagging will require a larger incision pattern, which will leave more scars.
Liposuction alone is sometimes used to reduce breast volume, which can be advantageous because it involves only small external scars. However, this requires that the patient have more fatty than glandular tissue in their breasts, which is often not the case. Liposuction can also be used on men whose breasts are enlarged (gynecomastia), with or without additional surgical resection of tissue.
What Is The Recovery From Breast Reduction?
For a few days following the breast reduction procedure, patients are likely to have bruising and swelling. Many are sore for about 1 week, although this can vary. Dressings are usually kept in place inside a surgical bra for about one week. A support bra is then used for an additional month. There are no stitches that need to be removed (all are dissolvable). Most patients can return to work after one or two weeks. No exercise or strenuous activity should be performed until cleared by your surgeon around 4 weeks postop.
Patients will immediately notice the change in breast size and weight after surgery. The appearance continues to improve with time as swelling and bruising decrease. Scars will also continue to fade over time up to 18 months after surgery. The scar pattern will allow the incisions to still be hidden within a bathing suit or in low-cut clothing.
To access full postoperative instructions, please click here.
What Are The Risks Of Getting a Breast Reduction?
There are always risks associated with surgery and anesthesia, and the anesthesiologist will discuss these with you. Every effort is made to minimize them. Risks related to reduction mammaplasty include:
- Sensation loss in the nipple or certain areas of the breast
- Scarring (as described above)
- Excessive firmness Issues with breast-feeding
- Wound healing issues near the incisions
- Partial or complete loss of the nipple and/or areola
Although breast reduction provides good long term results, your breasts will still be subjected to the effects of gravity and aging over time.
Click here for more before and after breast reduction photos.