Breast Reduction surgery, or Reduction Mammaplasty
, reduces the volume
of enlarged breasts.
Frequently Asked Questions.
How is the surgery performed?
Techniques for breast reduction vary,
but typically, the procedure involves an anchor-shaped incision that circles
the areola, extends downward, and follows the natural curve of the crease
beneath the breast. The surgeon removes excess glandular tissue, fat, and
skin, and moves the nipple and areola into their new position. He or she
then brings the skin from both sides of the breast down and around the areola,
shaping the new contour of the breast. Liposuction may be used to remove
excess fat from the armpit area.
In most cases, the nipples remain attached to their blood vessels and nerves.
However, if the breasts are very large or pendulous, the nipples and areolas
may have to be completely removed and grafted into a higher position. (This
will result in a loss of sensation in the nipple and areolar tissue.)
Stitches are usually located around the areola, in a vertical line extending
downward, and along the lower crease of the breast. In some cases, techniques
can be used that eliminate the vertical part of the scar. Occasionally,
when only fat needs to be removed, liposuction alone can be used to reduce
breast size, leaving minimal scars.
Will the surgery result in permanent scarring?
noticeable, permanent scars, although they'll be covered by your bra or
bathing suit. (Poor healing and wider scars are more common in smokers.)
How long does the procedure take?
Content to come.
How long is the recovery time?
You may be up and around in a day
or two, but don't plan on returning to work for a week or more, depending
on how you feel. Avoid lifting anything over your head for three to four
Will I need Anesthesia?
Breast reduction is nearly always performed
under general anesthesia. You'll be asleep through the entire operation.
Am I a good candidate for Breast Reduction?
Typically, breast reduction
is performed for physical relief rather than simply cosmetic improvement.
Most women who have the surgery are troubled by very large, sagging breasts
that restrict their activities and cause them physical discomfort.
In most cases, breast reduction isn't performed until a woman's breasts
are fully developed; however, it can be done earlier if large breasts are
causing serious physical discomfort. The best candidates are those who are
mature enough to fully understand the procedure and have realistic expectations
about the results. Breast reduction is not recommended for women who intend
Before your procedure.
In your initial consultation, your surgeon will evaluate your health and
explain which surgical techniques are most appropriate for you, based on
the condition of your breasts and skin tone. Photographs will be taken for
reference during surgery and afterwards. The surgeon will also examine your
breasts and measure them while you're sitting or standing. Variables will
be discussed that may affect the procedure--such as your age, the size and
shape of your breasts, and the condition of your skin. You should also discuss
where the nipple and areola will be positioned.
Be sure to tell your surgeon if you smoke, and if you're taking any medications,
vitamins, or other drugs.
Your surgeon may require you to have a mammogram (breast x-ray) before surgery.
You'll also get specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including
guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain
vitamins and medications. Some surgeons suggest that their patients diet
before the operation.
Breast reduction doesn't usually require a blood transfusion. However, if
a large amount of breast tissue will be removed, your physician may advise
you to have a unit of blood drawn ahead of time. That way, if a transfusion
should be needed, your own blood can be used.
After your procedure.
After surgery, you'll be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a surgical bra
over gauze dressings. A small tube may be placed in each breast to drain
off blood and fluids for the first day or two.
You may feel some pain for the first couple of days, especially when you
move around or cough, and some discomfort for a week or more. Your surgeon
will prescribe medication to lessen the pain.
The bandages will be removed a day or two after surgery, though you'll continue
wearing the surgical bra around the clock for several weeks, until the swelling
and bruising subside. Your stitches will be removed in one to three weeks.
If your breast skin is very dry following surgery, you can apply a moisturizer
several times a day, but be sure to keep the suture area dry.
Your first menstruation following surgery may cause your breasts to swell
and hurt. You may also experience random, shooting pains for a few months.
You can expect some loss of feeling in your nipples and breast skin caused
by the swelling after surgery. This usually fades over the next six weeks
or so. In some patients, however, it may last a year or more, and occasionally
it may be permanent.
Your surgeon will give you detailed instructions for resuming your normal
activities. Most women can return to work (if it's not too strenuous) and
social activities in about two weeks. You'll have much less stamina for
several weeks and should limit your exercises to stretching, bending, and
swimming until your energy level returns. You'll also need a good athletic
bra for support.
You may be instructed to avoid sex for a week or more, since sexual arousal
can cause your incisions to swell, and to avoid anything but gentle contact
with your breasts for about six weeks.
A small amount of fluid draining from your surgical wound, or some crusting,