Breast reduction surgery is for women who have large breasts and want to resolve one or more of the following associated problems:
- breasts that are too large in proportion to your body frame
- heavy, pendulous breasts with nipples and areolas that point downward
- one breast is much larger than the other
- back, neck or shoulder pain caused by the weight of your breasts
- skin irritation beneath your breasts
- indentations in your shoulders from tight bra straps
- restriction of physical activity due to the size and weight of your breasts
- dissatisfaction or self-consciousness about the largeness of your breasts
Breast reduction is one of the mostly performed breast surgeries. It can be performed at any age, but plastic surgeons usually recommend waiting until breast development has stopped. Childbirth and breast-feeding may have significant and unpredictable effects on the size and shape of your breasts. Nevertheless, many women decide to undergo breast reduction before having children and feel that they can address any subsequent changes later. If you plan to breast-feed in the future, you should discuss this with your plastic surgeon.
During the consultation, you will be asked about your desired breast size as well as anything else about your breasts that you would like to see improved. This will help your plastic surgeon to understand your expectations and determine whether they realistically can be achieved.
The most common method of reducing the breasts involves three incisions. One incision is made around the areola. Another runs vertically from the bottom edge of the areola to the crease underneath the breast. The third incision is a short one follows the natural curve of the breast crease. This is different than the previously described T incision as the new approach gives a short scar incision.
After the surgeon has removed excess breast tissue, fat and skin, the nipple and areola are shifted to a higher position. The areola, which in large breasts usually has been stretched, also is reduced in size. Skin that was formerly located above the nipple is brought down and together to reshape the breast. Liposuction may be used to improve the contour under the arm.
After breast reduction surgery, it is often possible to return to work within a week. In many instances, you can resume most of your normal activities, including some form of mild exercise, after several weeks. You may continue to experience some mild, periodic discomfort during this time, but such feelings are normal. Any sexual activity should be avoided for a minimum of one week.After that, care must be taken to be extremely gentle with your breasts for at least the next four weeks.
As with any major surgery, risks are involved, such as bleeding, infection and an adverse reaction to the anesthesia. Other possible risks specific to breast reduction surgery include: over or understimulation in the nipples and areolae
- Impaired blood supply to the nipples, leading to loss of the nipples and scarring
- Inability to breast-feed
- Asymmetry in size, shape, position and contour of the nipples or breasts, which may lead to further surgery to improve appearance
- Altered body image and a period of adjustment to get used to the change in your appearance
Understanding what’s involved in breast reduction surgery and weighing the benefits and risks of surgery can help you decide if it’s right for you. Benefits of the surgery include increased comfort in your upper back, neck and shoulders; less shoulder pressure from bra straps; increased ability to exercise and participate in physical activities; and a more positive self-image. The surgery may also help you breathe and sleep easier. The surgery results in a high satisfaction rate among women who have it done.