Breast Reduction Surgery
Overdeveloped breasts present a medical condition that affects women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Breasts which are disproportionately large for the body may be associated with medical complications such as neck, back, and shoulder pain, rashes underneath the breasts, loss of sensation in the hands, dilated veins on the breasts, and/or enlarged areola. Furthermore, overdeveloped breasts can lead to emotional as well physical distress. Breast reduction is performed to reduce the size of the breast while enhancing the shape to appear more in proportion with her body.
Am I a Good Candidate?
Women of all ages are typically good candidates for breast reduction procedure; however, the breasts should be fully developed. Although rapid breast development can occur during puberty, which may warrant the procedure being performed on candidates in their teens, it is typically not performed until the candidate is in her twenties. The ideal breast reduction candidate should be of a normal healthy weight and have breasts that are disproportionate to her size.
Possible Risks and Complications
When performed by an experienced board certified plastic surgeon, complications are rare. Nevertheless, such complications should be taken into account when considering an elective procedure. Depending on the individual and his/her adherence to the surgeon’s instructions there may be risk of excessive bleeding, infection, and/or reaction to anesthesia.
Scarring will result, but the incisions are made where they will appear as inconspicuous as possible. Poor healing and wider scars are more common in smokers. Some patients may experience decreased or lost sensation in the nipples and breasts. This is normal and usually lasts for only a few months but may be permanent in some patients. Also, breast-feeding may become difficult since the surgery removes many of the milk ducts leading to the nipples.
Breast Reduction Consultation
In a consultation, your surgeon will take into account your age, the size and shape of your breasts, the condition of skin and your overall health and well-being to assess whether you are a good candidate for breast reduction. You’ll need to inform your surgeon of any previous problems you’ve had such as lumps, nipple discharge, pain and any previous surgeries you may have had in the past as well as any family history of breast cancer, and medications you are taking at the time. At this time your surgeon will also discuss your expectations and help answer any questions and concerns regarding the procedure as well as the breast reduction procedure cost.
Preparing for Surgery
Breast reduction surgery should be performed on patients who are at a healthy weight. If you are a smoker, you are strongly encouraged to refrain from smoking for at least one week prior to the procedure and continue to refrain from smoking until your incisions have healed (about two weeks after the procedure). This will promote faster healing and reduce the risk of infection. At your preoperative visit, your surgeon will also provide a homeopathic remedy such as Arnica, which is taken the day before surgery and a week to ten days after to help reduce the effects of bruising and swelling.
Breast Reduction Procedure
The breast reduction procedure takes between one and two hours per breast. Once anesthetized, you will be cleaned and draped. Your surgeon will make an incision around the nipple, from the nipple down to the chest wall and side-to-side underneath the breast following the natural curve of the crease beneath the breast. Incisions outline the area of skin, breast tissue, and fat to be removed. In most cases, the nipples remain attached to their current blood vessels and nerves. However, if the breasts are very large, the nipples and areola may need to be removed and repositioned. Sutures close the incisions, giving the breast its new contour.
During the breast reduction recovery, your breasts will be wrapped in a bandage or surgical bra over gauze dressings. A small tube may be placed in each breast to drain off blood and fluids for the first day. Any discomfort experienced after the procedure is controlled with oral pain medications prescribed by your surgeon. Bandages will be removed a day or two after surgery, though you’ll continue wearing the surgical bra until the swelling and bruising subsides (usually one to two weeks). In most cases, stitches will be removed within one to three weeks.
Even though you may be up and about a few days after your surgery, your breasts may still ache over the next couple weeks. It is recommended that you avoid lifting or pushing anything heavy for three or four weeks. Most are able to return to work and social activities within two weeks. Physical activity should be limited (i.e. stretching, bending, walking, and swimming) until your energy level returns (typically within two to four weeks). Although much of the swelling and bruising disappear in the first few weeks, it may be six months to a year before your new breast shape emerges.
- MedicineNet.com (http://www.medicinenet.com/breast_reduction/article.htm)
- American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (http://www.surgery.org/)