While many women are in surgical pursuit of larger breasts, a large number of women wish for breast reduction. Having too-large, heavy breasts can be a serious health problem linked with back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as self-image issues, limited activity due to embarrassment, and unwanted attention.
Also known as reduction mammaplasty, reducing the size of breasts involves removing fat, glandular tissue and skin to make the breast smaller. Reduction can also include reducing the size of areola. Ultimately, the goal is to alleviate stress to the body and achieve a smaller, more proportionate appearance of the breast in terms of body size and shape.
Reduction mammaplasty is typically performed on fully developed women, but can be performed on teens that experience serious physical discomfort. It is not recommended that teens undergo any plastic surgery without serious consultation and evaluation for mental conditions such as Body Dismorphic Disorder.
Techniques for effective breast reduction can vary, but typically, the procedure involves what is called an anchor incision that circles the areola and nipple and extends down from the centre, and follows the natural crease of the breast. The surgeon will remove fat, tissue and skin and move the nipple and areola to its new position on the breast. Usually nipples and areola remain attached to their blood vessels and nerves; however in some cases of very large breasts, the nipple area may have to be removed and grafted onto the breast in a higher position, which will result in loss of sensation in the nipple tissue. The surgeon will then reshape the skin to the contour of the breast.
In addition to the surgical removal of fat, liposuction may be used to remove any excess fat from the armpit area. Stitches will then close the anchor shaped incisions.
Because large breasts can cause physical problems, the fees for breast reduction are typically covered by medical insurance companies with a recommendation from a doctor.
Post surgery the patient is bandaged in a surgical elastic bandage and surgical bra over top of gauze dressings. A tube may need to be inserted to help the drainage of fluids. Usually patients are able to return home the day following surgery and able to move around in a day or two when bandages and drainage tubes are removed. Swelling and bruising is normal, and of course, the area will be tender and painful for a few days. The surgical bra will be worn constantly for several weeks following the surgery until the surgeon allows its removal.
Your surgeon will give you detailed instruction concerning your recovery, but keep in mind that sexual stimulation and vigorous activity should be avoided for about six weeks. Expect some loss of feeling in the breasts and nipple area to last for a few weeks, as well as some fluid drainage and crusting around the sutures. Aching and random pain is normal as your breasts heal.
Typically, breast reduction carries the same risk as any other invasive breast procedure. Infection, swelling, bleeding and pain should be expected. Make sure your surgeon makes you aware of the signs and symptoms to be watchful for during recovery. Keep in mind that scarring is a reality and that while scars will fade over time; you may feel self-conscious about them.