The reduction mammoplasty also known under the name of breast reduction is a plastic surgery intervention developed to solve the issues caused by excessively large and saggy breasts. The purpose of the procedure is to reduce the volume and weight of the breasts and to lift them to an anatomically correct position. This implies the removal of excess mammary tissue and the reestablishment of the normal contours of the breasts while keeping the proportions in harmony with the rest of the patient’s anatomy. At the same time, the reposition of the nipple areola complex is often performed when breast reduction is required.
In this article, we will discuss the details of breast reduction surgery and what is the ideal age to undergo breast reduction.
Overly large breasts can occur due to the excessive glandular tissue and fat that are commonly found in the breasts. The increase in volume and weight of the breasts can result in the overstretching and relaxation of the ligaments that support the mammary gland, determining the sagginess and lack of aesthetic shape of the breasts.
This condition can negatively affect the emotional condition of the woman, in the same manner as small breasts can cause shyness and dissatisfaction with self-image. At the same time, there are physical conditions associated with excessively large breasts such as discomfort while exercising, pain on the back, neck, and shoulders that can become prevalent. Engaging in a normal social life is limited, and in many cases, patients suffering from mammary hypertrophy avoid dancing, aerobics or other activities that require the balancing of the upper body and hence the uncomfortable movement of the breasts.
If overly large breasts are not corrected with the help of a surgical intervention by the time the patient reaches maturity, the condition can negatively affect the body posture of the patient. Spine deformations can occur as a result of the compensatory muscular contracture that is triggered by the excessive weight of the breasts. At the same time, voluminous breasts don’t allow for a proper aeration of the inframammary fold, hence skin conditions can occur in this area. Bacterial infections on the inframammary fold are often present and difficult to treat because of the constant perspiration and because the area is never dry and airy.
Other issues associated with having overly large breasts are the necessity to wear special supportive bras all the time and difficulty in finding suitable clothing that will properly accommodate the breasts. The breast reduction procedure can offer permanent relief from all these discomforts associated with having overly large breasts.
The breast reduction procedure involves three major steps: the pre-operative preparation, the operative time, and the recovery period.
Pre-operatively, aside from the usual tests that are mandatory for patients desiring to undergo a plastic surgery intervention, it is also recommended to get a mammogram to discover potential problems that could be contraindications for breast reduction surgery. The surgical plan needs to be adapted to the needs and particularities of each patient, so the plastic surgeon has to be aware of your medical condition, family history, current medication, and potential allergies before recommending the surgical plan to be followed.
As breast reduction surgery is a complex procedure, it is recommended that before the intervention the patient is in good health condition. Even a simple cold can trigger a delay for the surgery. You should also know that generally speaking, the procedure should be performed outside the menstrual cycle and only after the patient has stopped birth control treatment a month in advance. Any treatment with aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medication needs to be stopped two weeks before the surgery date. At the same time, a cessation of smoking of at least three to six weeks is mandatory to have a smooth recovery process and avoid potential complications.
Breast reduction surgery is performed with the patient under general anesthesia and often lasts between three and six hours. The scars left after the intervention can take an anchor shape. They are located around the areola, descending from the areola’s edge vertically towards the inframammary fold. The position of the scars can be different from patient to patient, as well as the length of the incisions. These details will be discussed with the plastic surgeon during the pre-operative consultation.
During the surgery, the plastic surgeon will eliminate the excess glandular tissue, fat, and skin tissue. The part of the mammary gland that is left will be centered and elevated to a normal position on the chest, and the breasts will be remodeled to have a nice and better-contoured shape. Often, the plastic surgeon will also do some work on the nipple and areola complex to make it more in line and harmonious with the new breasts. Enlarged areolas are often corrected, and their size is reduced when breast reduction surgery is performed.
When a more complex surgery is performed and a significant amount of glandular tissue is removed, the plastic surgeon might decide to use drain tubes. This is a practice necessary to prevent blood and fluid accumulation on the surgical area and the occurrence of associated complications. The drain tubes are often kept for one or two days, and there are two of them, one on each side of the body. When there is no longer anything coming out the draining tubes, they can be removed by the medical staff.
For the recovery period, the plastic surgeon will prescribe pain medication to be taken on a per need basis and also antibiotics. Antibiotics treatment should be taken for five days post op as during this time there is a high risk of developing an infection after surgery.
Many patients wonder when would be a good time to undergo breast reduction surgery. When answering this question, we need to consider several aspects. Among them, the most important is related to the development of the mammary gland and the severity of the hypertrophy. If the patient has completed the development of the mammary gland even at an early age (e.g. 16 years old) and the breast hypertrophy is severe, the recommendation might be to schedule the procedure as soon as possible. By correcting overly large breasts soon in a patient’s life, we eliminate the cause of a deformed spine and the other health complications.
At the same time, we also need to consider the long-term consequences of breast reduction surgery, such as difficulties or the inability to breastfeed after the procedure. This is the reason why many plastic surgeons will advise you to postpone the procedure until later on in life, especially if the mammary hypertrophy is not extreme and associated with considerable health complications.
The ideal age to undergo a breast reduction can be between 16 and 60 years old. In the end, it all comes down to the patient’s particularities, desires, and expectations from the procedure. If the mammary gland is fully developed, the procedure can be performed. Patients of different ages benefit from the multiple advantages of breast reduction surgery.
Keep in mind that if the breast reduction surgery is performed early on in life, chances are the aesthetic results achieved with it can be altered by gravity, the passing of time, as well as other factors.
Many patients ask about the ideal age to undergo a breast reduction. The procedure is associated with different long-term consequences such as difficulties or the impossibility to breastfeed afterwards. This means that for patients who want to have more children and breastfeed in the future, the recommendation is to postpone breast reduction until they know their family is complete.
Moreover, the procedure should only be performed on patients who have completely developed breast tissue. Otherwise, the breasts might continue to grow after breast reduction, and the results achieved with the intervention might be affected.
Make sure to discuss all the details about breast reduction surgery and your particularities with the plastic surgeon during the pre-operative consultation.
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