Breast reduction surgery can provide a profound sense of relief for women experiencing discomfort due to the size of their breasts. This procedure helps alleviate several health problems, such as chronic back, shoulder, and neck pain and difficulties engaging in physical activities.
Additionally, it can address the issue of rashes on the chest while also mitigating the challenges related to limited clothing choices and the lasting indentations caused by the burden of bra straps. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about breast reduction, including how the procedure is performed and its associated risks.
What Is Breast Reduction Surgery?
Breast reduction surgery, scientifically termed reduction mammoplasty, is a surgical intervention aimed at diminishing the size and weight of the breasts to attain a desired smaller shape. This procedure involves the removal of excess breast tissue, fat, and skin, resulting in a more proportionate and aesthetically pleasing breast size. Breast reduction surgery is commonly sought after by individuals desiring improved mobility and a heightened sense of self-confidence.
Selection Criteria for Breast Reduction Surgery
A suitable candidate for breast reduction surgery is an individual who maintains a good state of health, ensuring that conditions such as hypertension and diabetes are well-managed before undergoing the procedure.
It is imperative that the candidate quits smoking, and if they do smoke, they should have a plan to cease smoking prior to the surgery. Moreover, individuals desiring breast reduction should have no history of uncontrolled cancer. Prior to the procedure, a mammogram is advisable for women aged 40 and above or those with a history of breast cancer. Patients with a history of discoloration, scarring, or keloid must exercise caution when considering a major surgical intervention.
Preparing for Breast Reduction Surgery
Ensuring optimal healing and recovery following breast reduction surgery requires good physical condition. It is crucial to adhere to your surgeon’s instructions both before and after the procedure.
To prepare for the surgery, make necessary arrangements in your home to facilitate a smooth recovery process. Stock up on the following items:
- Ample supply of ice for potential swelling management
- Gauze, clean washcloths, and towels for wound care
- Loose and comfortable shirts to accommodate post-surgery tenderness
- Special ointments or creams recommended by your surgeon for the incision sites
It is also essential to arrange for transportation on the day of the surgery and have someone available to stay with you, at least for the initial night after the procedure, especially if you are not planning to stay in the hospital.
Breast Reduction Procedure
Discontinuing the use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, like aspirin and ibuprofen, is often necessary before surgery to minimize the risk of increased bleeding.
During the surgery, the plastic surgeon will utilize a marker to delineate the guidelines for the incisions. The incision pattern will be determined based on factors such as breast size, nipple placement, and the patient’s preferences.
As highlighted by experts in a 2019 article, the most prevalent technique for skin removal in breast reduction surgery is the wise pattern, also known as the anchor pattern.
The surgeon initiates the procedure by creating an incision around the areola. Subsequently, the incision extends beneath the breast, potentially involving the removal of surplus skin from the breast’s sides.
Following the incisions, the surgeon extracts excess tissues, reconstructs the remaining tissues, and relocates the nipple and areola. Closure of the remaining skin is accomplished using sutures and surgical tape.
When the breasts are significantly large, a technique known as a free nipple graft may be employed. This procedure involves temporarily removing the nipples and areolas from the body, followed by their reattachment to the breasts. Although the nipples will regrow in their new position, it is common for them to remain permanently numb.
After the completion of the surgery, the surgeon or a nurse will carefully wrap the breasts with gauze bandages. In some instances, the insertion of small tubes may be necessary to facilitate fluid drainage and reduce post-operative swelling. It is essential to refrain from showering until a healthcare professional removes these drainage tubes.
Breast Reduction Surgery Recovery
Following breast reduction surgery, it is typically advisable to allocate at least a week away from work or school to focus on recovery. However, the duration may vary depending on individual circumstances. Your surgeon will provide specific instructions regarding follow-up appointments for removing bandages and stitches.
- Physical Activity Restrictions: During the recovery period, it is essential to abstain from engaging in physical activities for at least a month after the surgery. This precautionary measure allows the body to heal effectively and minimize any potential complications. Your surgeon will offer guidance on gradually reintroducing exercise and physical exertion as the healing progresses.
- Post-Surgical Discomfort: Post-surgery, it is normal to experience fatigue and breast pain. Your surgeon will prescribe oral pain medication to alleviate discomfort during the initial days of recovery. Refraining from heavy lifting and following your surgeon’s instructions is crucial to facilitate a smooth healing process.
- Emotional Well-being: It is not uncommon for individuals to experience emotional reactions, such as feelings of depression, following the surgery. It is essential to communicate any concerns or emotional changes to your doctor. They can provide guidance, support, and reassurance throughout the recovery journey. Open and honest communication is key to addressing any emotional challenges that may arise.
Potential Complications Associated with Breast Reduction Surgery
Minor complications may arise following breast reduction surgery, including:
- Open wounds or delayed healing of the incisions
- Accumulation of excess fluid in the breast tissue
- Cellulitis, which refers to an infection of the connective tissue
- Temporary or permanent loss of sensation in the nipples or breasts
- The asymmetric appearance of the breasts or nipples
- The possibility of prominent or thickened scars
- Allergic reactions to anesthesia or other medications administered during the procedure
It is crucial to note that smoking significantly increases the risk of complications and can impede the healing process. Additionally, individuals with obesity may face a higher likelihood of post-operative complications.
Moreover, the breasts may exhibit minor asymmetries even after the procedure. Initially, most breasts possess inherent variations in size and shape. During the surgery, the aim is to remove more tissue from the larger breast to address such differences. However, even after the completion of the healing process, slight variations in size or shape between the breasts may persist.
Breast reduction surgery is a medical intervention that offers a reliable means to reduce the size of the breasts. Individuals contemplating breast reduction surgery are encouraged to schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. During this appointment, the surgeon will thoroughly evaluate the person’s medical history and current health condition to determine the suitability of breast reduction surgery as a viable option.