A breast reduction is a surgical method of reducing the size of the breasts. Breasts that are too large for your frame can cause physical pain in your back and shoulders, make it difficult to exercise, can make you feel less attractive, and can make clothes shopping impossible. A breast reduction surgery will correct these issues by removing excess breast tissue and skin.
Disproportionately large breasts can cause a number of problems. You may have trouble finding shirts, bras, and bathing suits that fit. The skin under your breasts can become irritated, which adds to the pain in your back from carrying around the extra weight. Bra straps might dig into your shoulders. These are just the physical issues- many women with a large chest are self-conscious and feel worse about their appearance than they would if their breasts were more in proportion with the rest of their body.
A breast reduction will bring the size of your breasts into proportion with your frame. You won’t have to lose your hourglass figure, but your chest will become more manageable. The procedure will help alleviate both physical and emotional discomfort caused by your breast size.
A good candidate for a breast reduction will be in good physical and mental health. The candidate should have a positive outlook and realistic expectations of the outcome of the surgery. She should be getting the procedure for her own personal reasons, and not to satisfy anyone else.
Good candidates will have breasts that are large enough to cause physical discomfort and to inhibit their physical activity. She will probably have skin irritation both under the breasts and on the shoulders from tight bra straps. The breasts will hang low, and the nipples might hand below the breast crease. There might be stretch marks, or abnormally large areola (the dark skin around the nipple).
A good candidate for a breast reduction will also be bothered emotionally by the size of her chest. She may experience some self-consciousness or self-image problems associated with the attention that comes due to her chest size.
During your initial consultation, the Board Certified Plastic Surgeon performing the breast reduction will do a physical examination your breasts. This may include taking photographs and using a computer-imaging program to see estimates of your final result. The surgeon will evaluate the size and shape of your breasts, as well as your skin condition and muscle tone.
The surgeon will listen to your concerns about your breast size, and help you decide on what size you would like to be after surgery. He will go over the process of breast reduction surgery, including exactly how much tissue will be removed to reach your goal. You will also be given pre- and post-operative care instructions.
Your surgeon will probably order some lab tests to make sure you are in good health before surgery. You will need to stop smoking at least six weeks before hand, and will stop eating and drinking at an instructed time the night before the surgery. The surgeon might have you stop taking any blood-thinning medications or herbal supplements about two weeks before your scheduled breast reduction. Your surgeon may ask you to get a pre-operative mammogram to detect any issues with the breasts before surgery.
Review any paperwork and post-operative instructions beforehand, and make sure you have cold compresses, your pain medication, and button-down shirts on hand at home. You will need to arrange to have someone drive you home after the procedure.
If you are not at your ideal weight, it’s a good idea to get as close to it as possible before the surgery. Gaining or losing large amounts of weight can affect your results after the procedure.
You will be prepped for breast reduction surgery and given the anesthesia selected by your surgeon. He will then make the incision in the manner discussed with you during your consultation. Prepare to be in surgery for between two and five hours.
The incision is generally around the areola, down to the breast crease, and then horizontal across the breast crease in each direction. The surgeon will use this incision to remove excess skin, breast tissue, and glandular tissue. The areola will be reduced in size and the areola and nipple will be repositioned. In general, the skin above the areola is moved around and below the areola so the nipple sits higher on the breast mound.
Once the breasts are newly shaped and the areola is in the correct position, the incision will be closed.
When you are done with the surgery, there might be drains in place to help with fluid build-up. There will be dressings covering the incision site, and some patients will have a surgical bra or other compression garment in place to help keep swelling down. The drains will be taken out after a few days, but you will need to continue wearing the support garment for several weeks as instructed by your surgeon.
There may be some increasing swelling, bruising, or discomfort in the two to three days after surgery. The surgeon will recommend a medication to help with any tenderness, and the swelling should begin to go down after about three to ten days. During the first week after surgery, avoid bending over, lifting things, or wearing shirts you have to pull over your head.
Most patients can go back to work within one to two weeks. You will need to avoid strenuous physical activity for four to six weeks.
The results of a breast reduction are immediately apparent after the surgery, but your final results will become more obvious after the swelling goes down and the breast tissues settle into their new position. It can take up to six months for this to happen, and for the scars to begin to fade. The loss of the excess weight will have immediate effects on your physical comfort and your ability to exercise.
The new look of your breasts should last for several years; however, gravity and aging will affect the breast position. Becoming pregnant or altering your weight may also affect the surgical results by increasing breast size. If you become dissatisfied with your breast position, you may need to consider getting a breast lift.
A breast reduction comes with risks, just like all surgeries do. These risks include infection, bleeding, reactions to anesthesia, changes in skin sensation, skin discoloration, breast asymmetry, nipple asymmetry, nerve damage, loss of nipple sensation, dissatisfaction with the results, and the need for revisional surgery later.
Select a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon for your breast reduction-it’s one of the best ways to reduce the risk of complications. Board Certified surgeons have the training and expertise necessary to perform the procedure with meticulous attention to every detail. They use highly trained staff and the best medical facilities to help prevent complications from arising.
Following all your pre- and post-operative instructions will also help prevent complications. Your surgeon will discuss the risks with you in more detail at your consultation appointment.
Some insurance companies will help with the cost of a breast reduction, if your breasts cause you physical pain or complications. You will need to contact your insurance company to see if they offer coverage for this procedure.
If you would like to schedule a breast reduction in Northern Virginia, or if you have questions for our surgeon, please call the office at (703) 574-2588.