Breast reduction surgery: All you need to know

Breast reduction surgery, which can be called mammoplastic reduction by doctors, is a medical procedure which reduces the overall size of a person’s breasts.

Breast-reduction surgery is one of the most common cosmetic procedures, according to the authors of a 2019 study.

In this article, we discuss the surgery of breast reduction, including the operation and how it varies between males and females, what to expect during rehabilitation, and the risks involved.

Uses

Breast reduction surgery will help a person if their large breasts cause back pain.
Breast reduction surgery will help a person if their large breasts cause back pain.

Women who have excessively large breasts that cause collar, shoulder, or back pain may benefit from surgery to breast reduction.

Large breasts may complicate workouts and other activities. Having large breasts can also have negative psychological consequences, as some people feel guilty of their breast size.

For males with gynecomastia, which is a medical condition in which the breast tissue swells due to high levels of estrogen, doctors may prescribe breast reduction surgery.

Chirurgical breast reduction can help improve the physical and psychological well-being of individuals.

First a doctor must decide if someone is a candidate for the surgery. This review could include:

  • a routine breast examination
  • a mammogram
  • the reviewal of a person’s medical history
  • urine, blood, and other lab tests

In addition, breast reduction happens under general anesthesia. Some people go home straight after surgery but some stay in the hospital for 1–2 days.

Procedure

A person may need to stop taking over- the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, before surgery, since these may increase bleeding.

Doctors are also urging people who smoke to stop the operation many weeks before. Smoking can increase the risk of injury to nipple or isolar, tissue necrosis and other complications. Hence it is important that people discuss any use of tobacco products with the doctor, including vaping.

The plastic surgeon doing the procedure will use a marker to draw incision guidelines. The exact pattern of incision will be determined by the size of the breasts, the position of the nipples and the preferences of the person.

According to the authors of one 2019 article, the most common skin removal technique for breast reduction surgery is the wise pattern, or anchor pattern.

A surgeon starts by doing an incision around the isola. Instead, they start the incision under the breast, at which point they may remove excess skin from the breast sides.

The surgeon must remove excess breast tissue after the incisions have been made, reshape the remaining tissue and reposition the nipple and areola. The surgeon must apply sutures and surgical tape to the remaining skin.

If the breasts are particularly large, removing the nipples and areolas from the body may be required, and then putting them back on the breasts in a procedure called a free nipple graft. The nipples will regrow into the new position, but afterwards they will usually become completely numb.

The surgeon or a nurse must wrape the breasts in gauze bandages after the procedure. Occasionally, the insertion of small tubes into the breasts is necessary to remove excess fluid and reduce swelling after surgery. People should avoid showering until those drainage tubes are cleaned by a nurse.

Male breast reduction surgery

Male breast reduction surgery aims to remove any excess fatty or glandular tissue in order to achieve a flatter, firmer-looking chest.

Extra breast tissue is called gynecomastia in males.

Before the procedure, males undergoing breast reduction surgery are given a local or general anesthetic. The procedure may involve liposuction, excision or the two combined.

Liposuction can rectify gynecomastia caused by excess fatty tissue. The surgeon makes micro-incisions along the breast sides and inserts a thin tube called a cannula. The surgeon shall loosen the cannula and remove excess fatty tissue.

Gynecomastia may also cause excess skin and breast tissue to the glandular. A surgeon will then use excision techniques to cut this tissue off.

Once the breast size has been reduced, the surgeon will reposition the isola and nipple, if necessary, and close the incisions with sutures.

Recovery

Most people can go home a few hours after the surgery, as long as there are no complications they experience.

Before leaving the hospital or clinic, they will receive specific postoperative instructions covering what types of oral and topical medicines can help reduce pain and scarring, and prevent infection.

People need plenty of rest while their breasts are healing. They should avoid any movement that could stretch the muscles in the chest or tear the sutures.

During the first couple of weeks, people may have difficulty lifting their arms so they may want to ask a close family member or friend to help them during this time.

For several weeks they should avoid heavy lifting, or until a doctor removes their sutures.

Risks

Following breast reduction surgery people may experience minor complications, such as:

  • open wounds or slow healing of the incisions
  • excess fluid in the breast tissue
  • cellulitis, or infection of the connective tissue
  • loss of sensation in the nipples or breasts
  • asymmetric appearance of the breasts or nipples
  • prominent or thickened scars
  • allergic reactions to anesthesia or other medications

Smoking can increase the risk of complications and can delay the process of cure. People with obesity may also be at greater risk for postoperative complications.

It is important to note that after surgery the breasts may have very tiny asymmetries. Most breasts aren’t exactly the same size or shape to start with and the surgeons are trying to remove more tissue from the larger side. However, there may be small differences between the breasts after the procedure, and months after the healing process is completed.

Breast reduction surgery may also affect the ability of one person to breastfeed.

Cost

Breast reduction procedures cost, on average, about $5,680 according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. People will also have to pay for the costs of consultations and subsequent appointments.

Where a person needs this procedure to alleviate chronic pain or other medical problems, some insurance companies can partially or completely cover the cost about breast reduction surgery.

People who are thinking of getting breast reduction surgery may want to contact their insurance company for coverage inquiries.

Summary

Breast reduction surgery is a relatively safe and effective medical procedure which reduces a person’s overall breast size.

A plastic surgeon extracts excess fat, breast tissue, and skin by incising under the breasts. You will reposition the nipple and the areola, too.

Breast reduction surgery is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure. Infection, scarring, and sensation loss in the nipples or breasts are rare complications.

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