Breast reduction surgery, also known as reduction mammoplasty, is a surgical procedure that aims to remove tissue and skin from the breasts, in order to reduce their size and restore their shape. During the procedure the aureola or dark skin surrounding the nipple is also made smaller to maintain a harmoniously aesthetic appearance.
Breast reduction surgery is performed when a woman (or man during male breast reduction) has disproportionately large breasts, which causes her neck or back pain, among other problematic physical symptoms.
More than 90,000 breast reduction surgeries are performed in the U.S.A. alone every year, after which most women feel highly satisfied and experience a boost in their self-esteem and self-confidence.
Men suffering from conditions such as gynecomastia, the abnormal enlargement of breasts, are also candidates for this surgery. In the U.S. more than 20,000 men undergo male breast reduction annually.
Breast lift or mastopexy is a similar procedure, the only difference lies in the fact that in this case only skin is removed and inner tissue or fat are left untouched. Breast lift is a common solution for drooping breasts, while breast reduction offers relief for women with large and heavy breasts.
Breast Reduction Surgery – The Procedure
Patients who want to have the surgery performed need to attend pre-operative consultations, where the surgeon will take a detailed medical history and will look for medical conditions affecting the breasts (cancer, benign growths). Candidates should have a very good physical condition and mental health to become eligible for breast reduction surgery.
During the pre-op consultation, the surgeon will also discuss the emotional motives of the patient. Photos are taken and breasts are measured to be able to evaluate the outcome of the procedure. The surgeon will inform you how much tissue will be removed and will give you realistic prospects.
Mammography and physical breast examination are standard steps before the surgery.
Breast reduction surgery is usually conducted in an outpatient facility under general anesthesia. The whole process takes about three to five hours and involves the following steps:
- An incision is made around the nipple, then downward to the breast line
- Excess skin, tissue and fat are removed using drainage tubes.
- The nipple is relocated.
- The incision site is sutured and the breasts are wrapped with gauze.
- In some cases, a special surgical bra is needed.
Preparation and Recovery
Being in good physical condition is a necessary prerequisite for proper healing and recovery, therefore, physical training and a specific diet should be done prior to the surgery to reach your ideal weight. Smoking should be stopped and certain medications are also suspended.
For the recovery period, it is important to have and use:
- Plenty of ice
- Clean wash clothes, towels and gauze
- Comfortable t-shirts, blouses and bras.
- Special ointments and creams for the incision site
- Quiet forms of relaxation
It is recommended to take at least one week off to have an undisturbed recovery period. If you have been physically active, you can expect a speedier recovery and will be able to resume work sooner. Some people experience depression, a natural reaction after surgery, so it is very important to be conscious about the emotional impact breast reduction surgery may have.
As for the usual complications, breast pain, which is treated with oral painkillers, scars and the inadequate healing in the nipple area are common side-effects. Inform your doctor if you experience fever, pus or problems with the sutures.
Breast Reduction Cost
In most cases, insurance companies cover the breast reduction cost when it is considered reconstructive or medically justifiable. Early communication with the insurer will make the paperwork much easier. Make sure to understand and calculate all the related cost, so later on, during the recovery period, you will not have to suffer a headache!
A standard breast reduction cost on average terms can be over $6,000, so it is worth taking your time and energy to take a good look around the market.