Breast reduction procedures are designed to reduce the size and weight of the breast tissue, reshape the breasts and bring them to a higher or more natural position on the chest.
Breast reduction surgery (reduction mammoplasty) can improve your health and self-esteem and relieve back and shoulder pain that is often associated with larger breasts in women. Men are also seeking breast reductions in increasing numbers to correct the effects of gynecomastia (abnormal male breast growth).
We have been working with breast reduction patients in Bergen County for more than a decade and we have found that many of them are unsure of what the breast reduction surgery process involves. With that in mind, we broke down what you can expect from the process and some of the things you will encounter.
The goal of this guide is to provide an overview of the breast reduction procedure and describe what you can expect when undergoing surgery.
Why Women Have Breast Reductions
There are typically two different groups of women who seek to have breast reduction surgery. The first group of women is those who are seeking a minor breast reduction as they desire uplifted, perky or more “youthful” breasts or to improve the symmetry of breasts that are uneven.
The second group of women are those who have breasts that are much larger and out of proportion with their overall body size. Typically they seek out breast reduction to help improve their health and self-esteem.
Women with oversized breasts may suffer from physical pain in the neck, shoulders and back due to the weight of breast tissue. Women may develop poor posture, which can make pain worse. In some cases, bras can cause damage over time by digging into the shoulders.
Disproportionately large breasts may droop and sag due to gravity or aging, resulting in self-confidence issues. Pain, awkwardness or balance issues from large breasts may also prevent women from getting proper exercise or engaging in activities that they need or like to do.
Breast reductions are one of the most commonly chosen plastic surgery procedures by women–and also one of the most successful. Although breast reduction does leave scars (visible when unclothed), women overwhelmingly report that the sense of “lightness” and pain relief they feel more than makes up for any discomfort.
Choose Your Breast Reduction Surgeon Carefully
Be sure to discuss your goals with your breast reduction surgeon. It is important that your surgeon shares your goals and makes sure that they are realistic. You do not want a surgeon who will only tell you what you want to hear. Developing an honest relationship will help you have a more successful surgery.
We recommend selecting a surgeon who has performed the surgery recently and does so often. By thoroughly researching the procedure and choosing your plastic surgeon wisely, you will have made great strides towards ensuring an excellent outcome.
When you are meeting with plastic surgeons and attempting to see if they’re the right fit, we recommend asking them several different questions. Some of the things we would recommend speaking with them about are:
- How many breast reduction procedures have you performed recently? Are these procedures your focus or are they surgeries you only do occasionally?
- Ask them to explain the technique they will use in your specific case. Your case is unique from everyone else, so you deserve an individualized answer.
- Ask if you are a good candidate for surgery–and why or why not. Your surgeon should make this decision based upon factors that include your general health, your age, your specific goals and more.
- Ask where the surgery will be performed and whether the surgical facility is accredited.
- Determine what type of anesthesia your surgeon recommends and ask about their anesthesiologists’ qualifications.
Breast Reduction: The Procedure Overview
Breast reduction surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis at an accredited surgery center operating room. The patient is placed under general anesthesia–or sedation plus local anesthesia for minor reductions.
During the breast reduction procedure, incisions are typically made under the breast and up around the nipple/areola complex. Excess skin and breast tissue are removed to reduce the weight and size of the breast, which is brought to a new, higher position.
Breast tissue is re-contoured, the nipple is repositioned and the areola may be made smaller. Breast reduction surgery takes approximately 3 to 5 hours, however, it can vary based on the patient. Patients will go home the same day, however, it is recommended that they are driven by a family member or friend.
In breast reduction surgery, your surgeon uses his/her skill and experience to achieve a successful outcome for each patient by:
- Reshaping the breasts to fit your body frame and the specific goals you’re seeking.
- Creating well proportioned and symmetrical, but smaller and firmer, breasts with naturally positioned nipples.
- Placing incisions carefully to reduce the weight and size of the breasts while limiting incision length to help diminish the appearance of scars. Incision length varies with the skin and tissue volume being removed.
- Employing sophisticated surgical techniques to preserve lactation ability and nipple sensation.
- Contouring the remaining breast tissue to increase breast reduction stability and longevity.
Risks and Recovery from Breast Reduction Surgery
Breast reduction surgery is performed on the skin and underlying breast tissue and, since no muscle or bone is affected, healing is faster than more invasive procedures.
Most patients return to non-physically demanding work in 1 to 2 weeks following surgery. Scarring is visible (only when unclothed) for up to a year or more, after which scars may fade to thin white lines. These scars are generally not observable, even when wearing a low-cut top.
All surgeries involve the risk of an adverse reaction to anesthesia or complications like infection, bleeding, loss of nipple sensation or uneven positioning.
These complications are uncommon in breast reduction procedures. To lower the risk of surgical complications which may be technique-dependent, choose an experienced and conscientious surgeon. Be sure to follow your surgeon’s advice both prior to surgery and when recovering from breast reduction surgery.
Contact your surgeon with questions that arise and do not skip follow-up appointments. Your smaller breast size and new shape will be noticeable right after surgery, however, your new look will continue to evolve as the swelling decreases.
Breast Reduction Surgery Results
Most breast reduction patients express great satisfaction with their result as well as relief from the heaviness and pain they had been experiencing for years. Patients who work with their surgeons to make an informed decision about breast surgery are the most likely to be pleased with their experience and outcome.
These women (and men) feel a boost in their self-confidence after their breast reduction procedures. Painful shoulders, necks, and backs are often a thing of the past–and many women report feeling lighter and freer to move.
The only way to accurately know whether breast reduction surgery is right for you is to discuss your symptoms and goals with a skilled, experienced plastic surgeon.
Our Bergen County practice offers a no-charge consultation to determine if you are a good candidate for a breast reduction. We want to make sure you are the right fit for the surgery and that we are the right fit for you. Finding the right fit for both of us will ensure that we can achieve your goals. We want to help you become confident in your decision to have, or not to have, breast reduction surgery.