Frequently asked questions about breast reduction

Breast reduction is the surgical intervention used to create a smaller dimension of the breasts in order to reduce the pressure on the spine, to alleviate the back, neck and shoulder pain, and to improve the aesthetic appearance of the breasts. To the health conditions that are caused by mammary hypertrophy (the excessive size and volume of the breasts), we can also add the ones related to the patient’s social life. Most women with excessively large breasts will say they have a negative self-image that is reflected in a low social life quality.

Breast reduction surgery is commonly performed nowadays on patients of different ages. The process of getting smaller breasts starts with a visit to the plastic surgeon’s office for the pre-operative consultation. During this meeting with the surgeon, it is important to ask all the questions you have about the procedure and your eligibility for it. Here are a few frequently asked questions about breast reduction surgery:

1. How should I prepare for breast reduction surgery?

The plastic surgeon will recommend taking a set of tests that will ensure the smooth development of the intervention. At the same time, it is necessary to get a mammary echography or a mammogram to detect potential issues that could be a contraindication for the procedure.

Aside from these, the patient will be advised to avoid aspirin as well as other medication that could increase bleeding during and after surgery. Birth control medication should also be stopped a month before the intervention as they could trigger complications related to blood coagulation. Smoking should also be ceased at least three to six months before the procedure date as it can interfere and prolong the recovery process.

The patient should take the time to prepare emotionally and physically, as well as prepare the home for the recovery period in the weeks prior to surgery.

2. How is breast reduction surgery performed?

There are multiple surgical techniques that can be used when performing breast reduction. The surgical plan is decided during the pre-operative consultation, and it needs to cater to the particular needs of the patient and her anatomy.

Breast reduction implies the removal of the excess mammary tissue. In order to do this, the plastic surgeon will make incisions in different areas of the breasts such as around the areola, in the inframammary fold, and horizontally from the areola to the inframammary fold. The incisions performed are similar to the ones required for the breast lift.

During breast reduction surgery, the nipple and areola complex will be repositioned, and an enlarged areola will be corrected to fit the new dimensions of the breasts. The amount of tissue removed during breast reduction surgery is dependent on the initial size of the breasts and the desired results the patient wants to achieve. The plastic surgeon can remove up to 500 grams of tissue from each breast or even more, if necessary. The procedure is performed under general anesthetic and often lasts more than three hours.

3. What are the potential complications associated with breast reduction surgery?

The complications that can occur after breast reduction surgery are similar to the ones associated with most plastic surgery procedures: infection, hematoma, seroma, excessive bleeding, and delayed wound healing. Aside from these, we also have changes in the nipple and areola sensitivity. The scars resulting after breast reduction surgery are bigger or smaller depending on the amount of tissue removed, but generally speaking, they are larger than the ones left after breast augmentation surgery.

To prevent unwanted complications, it is important to choose a talented, board-certified plastic surgeon to play out your procedure and follow his recommendations to the letter.

4. How is the recovery period after breast reduction surgery?

The total recovery period (the period that needs to pass until the patient can resume all activities, whatever the level of physical effort involved) can take up to three months. Office work or any other type of work that doesn’t require significant physical effort can be resumed one or two weeks after the procedure. Regular activities can be resumed even a few days after when the pain and discomfort have subsided and the patient feels more like herself.

It is important to understand that the recovery process is very personal and depends from patient to patient. The recommendation is to discuss this issue in detail with the plastic surgeon to get a better idea of what is the length and what you can expect during the recovery period after breast reduction surgery.

In a vast majority of cases, the first few days of the recovery period are often the ones associated with an increased level of discomfort and even pain. During this time you should rest, eat balanced meals, and drink plenty of fluids. Your body is eliminating the rest of the anesthetic substances in your body and also trying to heal after the surgical trauma. The recommendation is to get plenty of rest to allow your body to recuperate. Make sure to not lie on the front of your body (specifically on the breasts) during the first couple of weeks after the procedure as this might cause the incisions to open or alter the aesthetic results achieved with the surgery.

Moreover, the patient is advised to keep the surgical area clean and dry at all times and to wear the special post-op bra as the breasts will need support and compression during the recovery period.

When it comes to sports or other physically demanding activities, it is important to resume them gradually and only after getting a green light from the plastic surgeon. Exercising sooner than recommended can trigger complications and even prolong the recovery process.

5. When should I schedule breast reduction surgery?

It is recommended to schedule the procedure when you know you can take at least two weeks off from school or work, or even more if your work is physically demanding.

Another aspect to consider when scheduling breast reduction surgery is the development of the mammary gland. The procedure can be performed on patients of different ages, even very young patients if the size of the breasts is causing health conditions and interfering with day-to-day life. However, the general recommendation is to wait until the mammary gland is fully developed before undergoing the breast reduction procedure. If the procedure is performed on patients that have not fully developed breasts, chances are the results of the procedure will be impacted by the further development of the mammary gland.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding are other factors to consider when scheduling the intervention. Most plastic surgeons will advise you to postpone until you know your family is complete and you have no desire to get pregnant again in the future. An ulterior pregnancy can alter the aesthetic results achieved with the procedure as during this time, the breasts undergo transformations that are difficult to predict and impossible to prevent. When it comes to breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery, the patient should be aware of the fact that this might be impossible. During breast reduction surgery, a significant part of the mammary gland is removed, together with the fat and skin tissue and this often translates into an impossibility to breastfeed after the procedure is performed.

Conclusion

Breast reduction is a frequently performed procedure nowadays as more and more women choose to radically change the appearance and size of the breasts to feel better in their own skin.

Having overly large breasts can be a real burden for some women that they need to deal with on a daily basis. Excessively large breasts can cause issues with breathing, exercising, body posture and many other health conditions.

After breast reduction surgery, the patient will notice that the symptoms of having overly large breasts are alleviated overnight. The improvement is visible immediately after the procedure; however, it often takes about three months for the final results to be visible and for the recovery process to be complete.

When considering breast reduction surgery, it is important for the patient to meet the plastic surgeon for a pre-operative consultation and to focus on finding the answers to all the questions associated with the procedure.

In this article, we have discussed some frequently asked questions about breast reduction surgery.

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