Reduction mammaplasty, more commonly known as breast reduction surgery, is a procedure that reshapes the breasts in order to make them smaller, lighter, firmer, and more symmetrical. This is accomplished by removing excess fat, glandular tissue, and skin from the breasts.
Breast reduction surgery is not only performed for aesthetic purposes, but also to relieve physical pain and emotional and social anxiety caused by unusually large breast size.
Is Breast Reduction Surgery Right for You?
Breast reduction surgery is for women with overly large breasts who would like to resolve one or more of the following associated problems:
- Back, neck or shoulder pain
- Pain and chafing in the shoulders due to bra strap pressure
- Sleep disruption or restriction of physical activities
- Irritation, rashes or chafing in the skin beneath the breasts
- Sagging of the breasts from excessive weight
Breast reduction surgery can be performed at any age, but it is generally advisable to wait until the age of 18-20, when the breasts are fully developed. It is not advised for women who still intend to breast-feed. Prospective patients with heart, lung, or kidney problems should discuss their options with Dr. Lanfranchi during the initial consultation.
Women whose breasts are sagging but not too large might receive more benefit from a breast lift, also known as mastopexy.
How is the surgery performed?
There are several breast reduction techniques that can be used depending on the size and shape of the breasts. However, the most common technique involves an incision that circles the areola, down towards the breast fold and follows the natural curve under the breast in an anchor shaped fashion.
When the incision is made, Dr. Lanfranchi removes excess glandular tissue, fat, and skin to reduce the size of the breast. In most cases, the nipple and areola remain attached to the breast. However, if the breasts are very large and pendulous, the surgeon may have to remove the nipple and areola and reattach them at a higher position as a skin graft.
What to expect after surgery
After surgery, you will be provided with a special type of bra, which you will need to wear for the first two weeks.
Drains (if necessary after surgery) may be removed after one or two days. There are no stitches to be removed, but it is not uncommon to see small areas of crusting along the incision line, which must be kept clean. These will fall off by themselves after approximately 10 days.
You should be mobile in one to two days, but it is important for you to limit your activity for optimal recovery. You should avoid any heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling for four to six weeks. You may do some walking and stretching exercises by the end of the first week, but vigorous exercise should be avoided for six weeks. Heavy exercise can stress the incisions and lead to complications such as delayed wound healing or prominent scars.
You should also avoid sexual activity for at least 10 days, as hormonal stimulation may make your breasts swell and lead to increased pain. Vigorous breast massage should be avoided for six to eight weeks.
Risks of Breast Reduction Surgery
Complications from breast surgery are infrequent and usually minor. Nevertheless, there is always a possibility of postoperative complications including infection, bleeding, or a reaction to the anesthetic or sedative medications.
Some patients may experience temporary or even permanent areas of altered sensation, including numbness.
In very rare cases, the nipple and areola may lose their blood supply, which causes the tissue to die. The nipple and areola can be rebuilt using skin grafts from other parts of the body, or with the use of medical tattoos.
In some cases, surgical incisions are fairly lengthy, and scars may take up to a year to lighten and become less noticeable. In some ethnic skin types, scarring can be more prominent, and may require further treatment. Dr. Lanfranchi will discuss your particular scarring potential in more detail at your initial consultation.
For more information about Breast Reduction surgery, or to schedule a consultation, please contact us.