During your breast reduction surgery, your surgeon will make an incision that will later scar as it heals. The visibility of the breast reduction scar tissue depends on many factors including the technique used for the reduction surgery and how closely you follow the post-surgery instructions. In many cases, you may be the only one to notice the scars after several years.
Breast Reduction Incision Location
One major factor that relates to the visibility of the breast reduction scar is the placement of the incision. The most common incision location circles your areola and goes straight down your breast. In some cases, an additional incision follows the breast crease. The shape of the scar looks like a lollipop or an anchor.
For reductions that involve a substantial change in cup sizes, the surgeon may need to use a more extensive set of incisions and these tend to look more like an angel or a keyhole. The cuts start above your nipple and go down to your breast crease.
The breast reduction scar that tends to have the greatest visibility are the ones that travel down the central part of your breast. The other incisions typically blend in with the nipple or are hard to see because they are under the breast crease. In general, you might end up with greater visibility of the scar with surgeries that involve a reduction of a lot of tissue.
The Factors Influencing Your Breast Reduction Scar
Lifestyle and physical factors can also play a role in the visibility of breast reduction scars. Your age is one of the biggest influences in this area since your skin simply doesn’t heal as quickly as you age. The overall elasticity of your skin will play a part in this, as well. Your scars may show up more prominently if you have particularly dark or pale skin, as the tissue contrasts against the natural skin tone. Some people are also more naturally predisposed to scarring due to hereditary factors.
Certain complications during your post-surgery recovery may also lead to increased breast reduction scar visibility. An infection or significant swelling may increase the area that ends up developing a scar or darkens this area. Regular smokers also face difficulty with scar visibility, since their tissue will receive less oxygen during the healing process.
Healing Your Breast Reduction Scar
Your surgeon will give you a list that covers steps that you should take to ensure proper healing after your procedure. When you follow all of the instructions, your body will receive the support it needs to minimize your breast reduction scars. Overall, you will want to do everything possible to reduce any tension on your breasts. Listed below are ways to avoid any excess tension:
- Immediately following your breast reduction, you receive a surgical support bra. This dressing provides protection and support for your breasts during the healing process, and you will typically need to wear this 24 hours a day for a few weeks. Sports bras are ideal after this period, as there’s no underwire that can dig into the breast crease or other irritating material.
- Change your sleeping habits so that your upper body is propped up while you sleep. A recliner is an excellent option for this purpose. If possible, have someone helping you around the house for the first few days following your surgery as you don’t want to strain yourself or fall accidentally. Limit your alcohol intake and try to quit smoking during the healing process, as these can both interfere with and cause a more prominent breast reduction scar.
- Anytime you go outside, apply sunscreen, as UV rays can contribute to a darker scar than you would otherwise have. Ideally, you should keep your breasts completely covered up from the sun until a year after your procedure.
- Surgical tape or steri-strips will stay on your breasts for a week or two post-procedure. Follow your doctor’s orders on applying and changing these out and keep a close eye out for signs of infection. Once you’re cleared to shower, make sure to do so regularly to keep the area clean. In some cases, you may be on antibiotics following your surgery so be sure to take the entire prescription to avoid causing an infection.
- Your exercise routine may need to wait until a month or more after your surgery. Picking up anything, pulling items or even driving can cause problems with recovery. Be careful with your activity, especially during the first week. When you schedule your breast reduction, make sure that you can take a week or more off from work to have the best chance of minimizing your breast reduction scars.
Reducing the Visibility of Your Breast Reduction Scar
Your breast reduction scar reduction plan should start well before any incisions occur. Collaborate with your surgeon for the strategy that works best for your lifestyle, the reduction you’re getting done, the way your skin tends to scar and the goals you have for the surgery. You should develop a completely customized plan that takes all of this into consideration. A skilled surgeon will ensure that there are no scars are visible when you have a shirt covering them. They also have the experience necessary to use the most efficient incisions to reduce any scarring.
In most cases, you just need to give the breast reduction scar time to fade and it will generally lighten up significantly in the years following the procedure. If you’re unhappy with how the marks look on your skin once it settles, you can work with your surgeon to get steroid injections to break down the scars or use a laser treatment that will minimize their appearance. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Cohen to understand the factors that lead to scarring after your breast reduction surgery.