What is breast reduction surgery?
Breast reduction, also known as reduction mammaplasty, is a procedure to remove excess breast fat, glandular tissue and skin to achieve a breast size more in proportion with your body and to alleviate the discomfort associated with excessively large breasts (macromastia).
Disproportionately large breasts can cause both physical and emotional distress for patients. Patients with macromastia may experience physical discomfort resulting from the weight of their breasts. The resulting pain can make it challenging for some patients to perform common physical activities. Along with the physical ailments of macromastia, some patients may suffer from emotional distress or more significant mental health problems as a result of their large breasts.
Although breast reduction is often performed to address medical issues, patients who do not have the symptoms of macromastia but are unhappy with the size of their breasts can still pursue breast reduction as an aesthetic procedure. Patients choosing to undergo breast reduction surgery for cosmetic reasons may cite any number of factors, including social stigmas and wardrobe concerns.
Who is a good candidate for breast reduction surgery?
Overly large breasts can cause health and emotional problems. In addition to self-image issues, you may also experience physical pain and discomfort. The weight of excess breast tissue can impair your ability to lead an active life. The emotional discomfort and self-consciousness often associated with having large pendulous breasts can be as important an issue as the physical discomfort and pain.
You may be a candidate for breast reduction surgery if:
You are physically healthy
You have realistic expectations
You don't smoke
You are bothered by feeling that your breasts are too large
You have breasts that limit your physical activity
You experience back, neck and shoulder pain caused by the weight of your breasts
You have shoulder indentations from bra straps
You have skin irritation beneath the breast crease
What are the risks of breast reduction surgery?
The decision to have breast reduction surgery is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks of breast reduction surgery and potential complications are acceptable.
Your plastic surgeon and/or plastic surgery staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo and any risks or potential complications.
Possible breast reduction surgery risks include:
Allergies to tape, suture materials and glues, blood products, topical preparations or injectable agents
Breast contour and shape irregularities
Changes in nipple or breast sensation, which may be temporary or permanent
Damage to deeper structures – such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles and lungs – can occur and may be temporary or permanent
Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
Excessive firmness of the breast
Fatty tissue deep in the skin could die (fat necrosis)
Pain, which may persist
Poor wound healing
Possibility of revisional surgery
Potential inability to breastfeed
Potential loss of skin/tissue of breast where incisions meet each other
Potential, partial or total loss of nipple and areola
Skin discoloration, permanent pigmentation changes, swelling and bruising
You should know that:
Breast reduction surgery can interfere with certain diagnostic procedures
Breast and nipple piercing can cause an infection
Your ability to breastfeed following reduction mammaplasty may be limited; talk to your doctor if you are planning to nurse a baby
The breast reduction procedure can be performed at any age, but is best done when your breasts are fully developed
Changes in the breasts during pregnancy can alter the outcomes of previous breast reduction surgery, as can significant weight fluctuations
The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single breast reduction procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
Where will my surgery be performed?
Breast reduction procedures may be performed in your plastic surgeon's accredited office-based surgical facility, an ambulatory surgical facility or a hospital. Your plastic surgeon and the assisting staff will fully attend to your comfort and safety.
When you go home
If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains or unusual heartbeats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these breast reduction complications occur, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment.
The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
Following your physician's instructions is key to the success of your surgery. It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, abrasion or motion during the time of healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself and minimize breast reduction surgery risks.
Be sure to ask questions: It's very important to address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon. It is natural to feel some anxiety, whether excitement for the anticipated outcome or preoperative stress. Discuss these feelings with your plastic surgeon.
What should I expect during my breast reduction recovery?
Many patients have questions about recovery from breast reduction surgery.
When your breast reduction procedure is complete, dressings or bandages will be applied to the incisions. An elastic bandage or support bra may be worn to minimize swelling and support the breasts as they heal.
A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.
You will be given specific instructions for breast reduction recovery that may include:
How to care for your breasts following breast reduction surgery
Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection
Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health
When to follow up with your plastic surgeon
Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period.
Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery? When will they be removed?
Are stitches removed? When?
When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
When do I return for follow-up care?
What results should I expect after breast reduction surgery?
The results of breast reduction surgery will be long-lasting. Your new breast size should help relieve you from the pain and physical limitations experienced prior to breast reduction.
Your better-proportioned figure will likely enhance your self-image and boost your self-confidence.
However, over time your breasts can change due to aging, weight fluctuations, hormonal factors and gravity.
This article was taken from AMERICAN SOCIETY OF PLASTIC SURGEONS web page: