Breast reduction can be life-changing for women dealing with the physical and emotional consequences of having overly large breasts. Neck and back pain, deep grooves in the shoulders, and difficulty finding bras that fit are just a few of the challenges women with heavy, sagging breasts have to endure.
At West Michigan Plastic Surgery, our highly-experienced plastic surgeon Dr. Scott Holley performs breast reduction surgery to help women transform their breasts and create a more balanced figure. Dr. Holley customizes breast reduction surgery to meet the aesthetic preferences of each patient.
Breast reduction or reduction mammaplasty is a procedure that is done to reduce the size of overly large breasts. This involves removing excess fat, glandular tissue, and skin, to make the breasts smaller and more proportionate to the overall figure.
If you have very large breasts that cause you pain or discomfort or affect your ability to lead an active life, you may be a good candidate for reduction mammaplasty. Good candidates for surgery should also be healthy, non-smokers, at a stable weight, and not be breastfeeding.
Breast reduction is typically performed on an outpatient surgical basis. Reduction mammaplasty is done under general anesthesia and takes about 2-3 hours to complete.
The anchor or ‘inverted-t’ incision is the most common surgical technique used to perform reduction mammaplasty. For this technique, a circular incision is made around the areola which extends vertically down to the breast crease, and another incision is made along the natural crease of the breast. This allows the surgeon to remove excess tissue and skin, creating the new contour of the smaller, reshaped, and lifted breast. The nipple-areola complex may also be moved to a higher position on the chest.
The reduction in the size of the breasts will be apparent immediately after surgery, but the breasts take time to settle, so final results won’t be seen for at least 2 months.
Some changes in the shape of the breasts may occur after that time due to hormonal fluctuations or weight changes. Most women that undergo breast reduction are highly satisfied with the outcome of surgery and enjoy their new breast size. Results of reduction mammaplasty are typically long-lasting.
The recovery time after breast reduction varies depending on the extent of the procedure. However, most patients can return to work after 7 days but are advised to avoid strenuous exercise for at least 4 weeks.
As with all types of surgery, there are potential risks that can occur with breast reduction, including infection, bleeding, changes in nipple sensation, and delayed wound healing. Selecting an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon to perform the procedure, and carefully following the pre- and post-surgical instructions of your surgeon can help minimize risks.
During your initial consultation, Dr. Holley will perform an evaluation and discuss your expectations regarding breast size and shape. He will also review factors impacting surgery such as the type of anesthesia, surgical approach, scarring, possible risks, and costs.
You may be asked to get a lab test and mammogram in preparation for reduction mammaplasty. Dr. Holley may also provide a list of instructions regarding certain medications to stop taking ahead of surgery, as well as guidelines relating to eating, drinking, and smoking.
After surgery, your breasts will be covered with gauze dressings and wrapped around with an elastic bandage or surgical bra. Drain tubes are occasionally required to prevent excessive fluid accumulation. Some swelling and bruising can be expected. Medication will be prescribed to control any discomfort if necessary. Light walking is encouraged during this time to promote healing.
The bandages are removed at the first post-operative appointment within 3-5 days, but a surgical bra is worn for several weeks to support the new breast contours, and minimize swelling.
Return to full activity can be expected by 4 weeks following surgery.