Breast Reduction (Reduction Mammaplasty)
A breast reduction, also known as a reduction mammaplasty, removes excess breast fat, glandular tissue and skin to achieve a breast size that is more proportionate with a woman’s body. A breast reduction procedure can also help alleviate some of the constant discomfort (shoulder grooving, musculoskeletal pain, poor clothing fit, and even emotional issues) that women with overly large breasts often complain about. At Forma Plastic Surgery, we offer breast reduction surgery so that women may get relief from their physical discomfort and improve their self-esteem and general quality of life.
Breast Reduction Consultation
Individuals interested in a breast reduction should meet with a board-certified plastic surgeon for an initial consultation. During this visit, the plastic surgeon will evaluate the patient by asking questions about the patient’s medical and surgical history, the medications or supplements she might be taking, and the motivation for seeking surgical intervention. The plastic surgeon will also perform a breast examination, taking detailed measurements to determine the size and shape of the breasts, the skin quality, the level of tissue loss, and the placement of the nipples and areolas. The plastic surgeon will need to take photographs for your medical record – especially if the case is submitted for prior authorization to an insurance company. Up-to-date lab studies, mammograms or imaging are usually needed to clear the patient for surgery. Once a patient is determined to be appropriate, the plastic surgeon will discuss the various surgical options and provide his or her recommendations. He or she will also explain the risks, benefits, and complications that could occur with the procedure.
Preparing for your Breast Reduction Procedure
Patients should begin preparing for surgery two to four weeks before the procedure is scheduled. The plastic surgeon will require that patients avoid all nicotine sources and avoid taking aspirin or other blood thinning medication. The plastic surgeon will also send the patient for pre-operative labs and testing to make sure that she is appropriate for surgery. Medications are prescribed to take both before and after the procedure.
The day before surgery, it is important that patients thoroughly bathe and get plenty of rest. The day of the procedure, patients should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Patients should also arrange to be accompanied by a friend or family member who can drive them home after surgery. It is also important for patients to carefully follow any pre-operative instructions given to them by the plastic surgeon to ensure for a successful surgery and a smooth recovery.
The Breast Reduction Procedure
The procedure will take approximately three hours and will require that the patient be placed under general anesthesia. The plastic surgery will typically make a keyhole incision around the areola and vertically down to the inframammary fold. The underlying tissue is reduced, lifted and shaped, and the areolas may be reduced in size. The nipple and areola are repositioned higher on the breast and the incisions are sites are closed with a layer of sutures. This procedure will leave permanent incision marks, but the plastic surgeon will advise the patient to get those scars faded as much as possible over time. How visible the incisions are depends on a few factors: time, the patient’s genetic makeup, and incision optimization.
Breast Reduction Recovery and Results
After the procedure, patients will have dressings applied to their incisions, and they will need to wear a compression garment for several weeks; this garment helps to reduce swelling and support the breasts as they heal. Patients will often have drains placed to collect any blood or fluid that accumulates after surgery. These drains are usually removed after a day or so. It is very important to follow all of the post-operative instructions given by the plastic surgeon to ensure the smoothest recovery possible.
Usually, a breast reduction is an outpatient procedure and the patient can go home the same day. The patient will be prescribed medications to control the pain, and most patients can return to work within a few days. If the patient has a job with more physically strenuous requirements, the plastic surgeon may advise that they take several weeks off to recuperate and heal. The plastic surgeon will decide on a case-by-case basis when a patient may stop wearing the compression garment and start wearing an underwire bra. Patients may change the sensation in the nipples for a few months after surgery; this is normal and sensation usually returns to baseline.
Although rare, complications occur with a breast reduction procedure. Most are mild in nature, and the plastic surgeon will discuss these in detail with the patient at her initial consultation and again at her pre-operative appointment. Overall, women experience a tremendous amount of satisfaction and a boost in their self-esteem after their breast reduction surgery.