Breast Reduction Surgery (Reduction Mammoplasty)
What are the benefits of breast reduction surgery?
Having large breasts may determine a wide range of medical problems such as back and neck pain, skin irritation, breathing problems and other issues. But besides the physical issues there are also psychological problems related to the size of the breasts. A woman with large breasts may feel frustrated by the way she looks, diminishing her self confidence.
So, it appears that the benefits of breast reduction surgery can be both physical and psychological.
The goal of breast reduction is usually to achieve the following
- having smaller, lighter and firmer breasts
- relieving the pain associated with heavy breasts
- improving asthma
- re-establishing the breasts proportion with the rest of the body
- reducing the size of the areola
- equalizing different size breasts
- removing the physical discomfort in general
The psychological benefits are important as well. The breast reduction can improve the woman’s self esteem and cure the psychological trauma.
How is breast reduction surgery performed?
Individual characteristics and personal preferences will determine the specific technique selected to reduce the breasts size. It is advisable to discuss the method with the surgeon before the operation.
The most common used technique of reducing the breasts involves three incisions. One incision is made around the areola. Another runs vertically from the bottom edge of the areola to the crease underneath the breast. The third incision follows the natural curve of the breast crease. The three incisions have an anchor shape. This is why the method is known as “the anchor shaped incision” technique.
After removing excess fat, skin and breast tissue, the surgeon shifts the nipple and areola to a higher position. The areola is reduced in size as well if the patient wishes.
Usually the nipples and areolas remain attached to their blood vessels and nerves, thus allowing for the sensation preservation. Breast feeding can also be preserved by using this method, though it is not guaranteed. In rare cases, due to the stretched skin and tissues that support the breasts, the nipples and areolas need to be entirely removed from the breasts. Afterwards they are grafted back into a higher position. The loss of sensation may occur if nipple and areola are moved in this way.
The incisions are closed with stitches. Small tubes are used for draining the blood and will be removed in a day or two.
The procedure is commonly performed under general anesthesia, meaning the patient will sleep through the entire operation.
What risks are associated with breast reduction surgery?
Serious complications due to breast reduction surgery are quite rare. This explains why thousands of women undergo this operation every year, being satisfied with the results. Breast reduction surgery is known to have the highest patient satisfaction rate of all cosmetic surgeries. However, as with any surgery procedure, patients need to be aware of the potential risks.
The complications that may occur can be the following:
This type of complication may occur after any surgery, although it is quite infrequent. Prior to the operation, the patient is given antibiotics.
Bleeding and Clot Formation
Some patients can lose blood after a breast reduction and the drains do not drain all of the blood. A collection of blood can collect under the breast (haematoma) that enlarges and can become painful.
If this occurs the patient has to undergo another operation in order to have the clot drained and the bleeding stopped.
However, bleeding can be avoided by injecting a mixture of salt water with adrenalin in the breasts before the actual surgery.
There may be several different scars and these scars will remain more or less visible, depending on each individual. They could also burst and require a new surgery for scar revision. Other methods used to better heal the scars are: using micro-pore tape, moisturising creams or steroid injections.
This complication is exceedingly rare. It means that the nipple or surrounding areola is lost and dies.
Altered Nipple Sensation
Some patients may experience loss of nipple sensitivity. On the other hand, a small minority of patients may develop nipple hypersensitivity.
After the surgery, it is possible that the breasts be slightly asymmetric. If the unevenness is annoying for the patient, a new operation may be needed.
Breast Feeding Potential
Breast feeding may be possible after this surgery due to the modern techniques. If the patient wants to be able breast feed, it is advisable to mention this fact to the cosmetic surgeon.
Even if the patient already knows the whole range of complications, she should discuss it in detail with the cosmetic surgeon before the operation.
What questions should I ask my surgeon about the breast reduction surgery?
For the first consultation with the surgeon, you are advised to prepare a set of questions that might help you better understand the benefits, risks and outcome of the procedure.
- How is the operation performed?
- How should I prepare before having the surgery?
- Who qualifies for this kind of surgery?
- What are the risks of surgery?
- What should I expect after surgery?
- Will I be able to breast feed my baby?
- When can I resume my normal activities?
- How long will the results last?
- Is breast reduction surgery covered by insurance?
If you consider yourself a potential candidate for breast reduction surgery and would like to know more, you are kindly invited to address any of the above or others to our surgeons.