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Breast Reduction

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What is breast reduction surgery?

Breast reduction, also known as reduction mammaplasty, is a procedure to remove excess breast fat, glandular tissue, and skin to achieve a breast size in proportion with your body and to alleviate the discomfort associated with overly large breasts.

Breast reduction costs

Breast reduction costs can vary widely.

A surgeon’s cost for breast reduction surgery may be based on his or her experience, the type of procedure used, and the geographic location of the office.

Your surgeon may offer patient financing plans, so be sure to ask.

Breast reduction costs may include:

  • Anesthesia fees
  • Hospital or surgical facility costs
  • Medical tests
  • Post-surgery garments
  • Prescriptions for medication
  • Surgeon’s fee

Breast Reduction and Insurance Coverage

Many health insurance plans cover breast reduction surgery. Your plastic surgeon may need to obtain authorization from your insurer for the surgery. This may require a letter and the submission of photographs. Once an authorization is obtained, you will be able to schedule your surgery.

You will be responsible for any co-pays or deductible required by your insurer. If your health plan does not cover breast reduction, you may decide to pay for the surgery yourself.

Breast reduction candidates

Overly large breasts can cause health and emotional problems. In addition to self image issues, you may also experience physical pain and discomfort.

The weight of excess breast tissue can impair your ability to lead an active life. The emotional discomfort and self-consciousness often associated with having large pendulous breasts can be as important an issue as the physical discomfort and pain.

Breast reduction is a good option for you if you:

  • Are physically healthy
  • Have realistic expectations
  • Don’t smoke
  • Are bothered by feeling that your breasts are too large
  • Have breasts that limit your physical activity
  • Experience back, neck, and shoulder pain caused by the weight of your breasts
  • Have shoulder indentations from bra straps
  • Have skin irritation beneath the breast crease

Breast reduction recovery

Many patients have questions about recovery from breast surgery.

When your breast reduction procedure is complete, dressings or bandages will be applied to the incisions. An elastic bandage or support bra may be worn to minimize swelling and support the breasts as they heal.

A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.

You will be given specific instructions for breast reduction recovery that may include: how to care for your breasts following breast reduction surgery, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon. Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period.

  • Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
  • What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
  • Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery? When will they be removed?
  • Are stitches removed? When?
  • When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
  • When do I return for follow-up care?

Breast reduction results

The results of breast reduction surgery will be long-lasting. Your new breast size should help relieve you from the pain and physical limitations experienced prior to breast reduction.

Your better proportioned figure will likely enhance your self image and boost your self-confidence.

However, over time your breasts can change due to aging, weight fluctuations, hormonal factors and gravity.

Breast reduction procedure steps

Breast reduction surgery is usually performed through incisions on your breasts with surgical removal of the excess fat, glandular tissue and skin.

In some cases, excess fat may be removed through liposuction in conjunction with the excision techniques described below. If breast size is largely due to fatty tissue and excess skin is not a factor, liposuction alone may be used in the procedure for breast reduction.

The technique used to reduce the size of your breasts will be determined by your individual condition, breast composition, amount of reduction desired, your personal preferences and the surgeon’s advice.

Step 1 – Anesthesia

Medications are administered for your comfort during breast reduction surgery. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.

Step 2 – The incision

Incision options include:

  • A circular pattern around the areola

The incision lines that remain are visible and permanent scars, although usually well concealed beneath a swimsuit or bra.

  • A keyhole or racquet-shaped pattern with an incision around the areola and vertically down to the breast crease

  • An inverted T or anchor-shaped incision pattern

Step 3 – Removing tissue and repositioning

After the incision is made, the nipple (which remains tethered to its original blood and nerve supply) is then repositioned. The areola is reduced by excising skin at the perimeter, if necessary.

Underlying breast tissue is reduced, lifted and shaped. Occasionally, for extremely large pendulous breasts, the nipple and areola may need to be removed and transplanted to a higher position on the breast (free nipple graft).

Step 4 – Closing the incisions

The incisions are brought together to reshape the now smaller breast. Sutures are layered deep within the breast tissue to create and support the newly shaped breasts; sutures, skin adhesives and/or surgical tape close the skin. Incision lines are permanent, but in most cases will fade and significantly improve over time.

Step 5 – See the results

The results of your breast reduction surgery are immediately visible. Over time, post-surgical swelling will resolve and incision lines will fade. Satisfaction with your new image should continue to grow as you recover.