September 15th, 2013
Breast Reduction: some frequently asked questions.
Patients who undergo breast reduction surgery frequently are seeking relief from physical symptoms caused by the excessive weight of large breasts. Breast reduction usually can solve these problems as well as improve the size and shape of your breasts. Following breast reduction, your breasts will be more proportional to the rest of your body, and clothes will fit you better.
Am I a good candidate for breast reduction?
You may be a good candidate for breast reduction if you have one or more of the following conditions:
- Breasts that are too large and heavy in proportion to your body frame.
- Pendulous breasts with nipples and areolas that point downward.
- One breast is much larger than the other.
- Neck or shoulder pain caused by the weight of your breasts.
- Skin irritation beneath your breasts, indentations in your shoulders from tight bra straps.
- Restriction of physical activity due to the size and weight of your breasts.
- Dissatisfaction or self-consciousness about the largeness of your breasts.
Breast reduction can be performed at any age, but cosmetic breast surgeons usually recommend waiting until breast development has stopped. Childbirth and breast-feeding may have significant and unpredictable effects on the size and shape of your breasts. Nevertheless, many women decide to undergo breast reduction before having children and feel that they can address any subsequent changes later. If you plan to breast-feed in the future, you should discuss this with your cosmetic breast surgeon.
During the consultation, you will be asked about your desired breast size as well as anything else about your breasts that you would like to see improved. This will help your cosmetic breast surgeon to understand your expectations and determine whether they realistically can be achieved.
How will my cosmetic breast surgeon evaluate me for breast reduction surgery?
Your cosmetic breast surgeon will examine your breasts, taking measurements and perhaps photographs for your medical record. The size and shape of your breasts, the quality of your skin, and the placement of the nipples and areolas will be carefully evaluated.
You should come to the consultation prepared to discuss your medical history. This will include information about any medical conditions, drug allergies, medical treatments you have received, previous surgeries including breast biopsies, and medications that you currently take. It is important for you to provide complete information.
You should tell your cosmetic breast surgeon if you plan to lose a significant amount of weight, particularly if you have noticed that your breasts become smaller with weight loss. Your surgeon may recommend that you stabilise your weight before having surgery.
Where are the incisions and different patterns?
This depends on type of reduction pattern. There are 2 commonly used patterns, Wise-pattern and Vertical pattern. Both have indications, limitations, advantages and disadvantages. Your cosmetic breast surgeon will discuss this in depth with you. The end result of Wise-pattern is an inverted T scar and for vertical pattern is lollipop.
Rarely, if your breasts are extremely large, the nipples and areolas may need to be completely detached before they are shifted to a higher level. In such a case, you will need to have made the decision to sacrifice sensation and the possibility of breast-feeding in order to achieve your desired breast size.
Fortunately, significant complications from breast reduction are infrequent. Every year, many thousands of women undergo successful breast reduction surgery, experience no major problems and are pleased with the results. Anyone considering surgery, however, should be aware of both the benefits and the risks.
I understand that every surgical procedure has risks, but how will I learn more so that I can make an informed decision?
The subject of risks and potential complications of surgery is best discussed on a personal basis between you and your cosmetic breast surgeon.
Some of the potential complications that may be discussed with you include bleeding, infection and reactions to anesthesia. Rarely, a patient may require a blood transfusion during the operation. This usually can be anticipated in advance, and your cosmetic breast surgeon may, under certain circumstances, advise you to donate your own blood in preparation for surgery.
Following reduction, sometimes the breasts may not be perfectly symmetrical or the nipple height may vary slightly. If desired, minor adjustments can be made at a later time. Permanent loss of sensation in the nipples or breasts may occur rarely. Revisionary surgery is sometimes helpful in certain instances where incisions may have healed poorly. In the unlikely event of injury to or loss of the nipple and areola, they usually can be satisfactorily reconstructed using skin grafts.
You can help to lessen certain risks by following the advice and instructions of your cosmetic breast surgeon, both before and after surgery.
How should I prepare for surgery?
Depending on your age, or if you have a history of breast cancer in your family, your cosmetic breast surgeon may recommend a baseline mammogram before surgery and another mammographic examination some months after surgery. This will help to detect any future changes in your breast tissue. Following breast reduction, you will still be able to perform breast self-examination. Breast reduction surgery will not increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
If you are a smoker, you will be asked to stop smoking well in advance of surgery. Aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs can cause increased bleeding, so you should avoid taking these medications for a period of time before surgery. Your surgeon will provide you with additional preoperative instructions.
Breast reduction surgery may be performed on an inpatient or outpatient basis. If you are to stay in the hospital or surgical facility, it will most likely be for only one night. Whether you are released the day of surgery or the following day, you will need someone to drive you home and to stay with you for the next day or two.
How will I look and feel initially?
The day after surgery, you will be encouraged to get out of bed for short periods of time. After several days, you will be able to move about more comfortably. Straining, bending and lifting must be avoided, however, since these activities might cause increased swelling or even bleeding. You may be instructed to sleep on your back to avoid pressure on your breasts.
Any surgical drains will be removed a day or two after surgery, at which time your dressings may also be changed or removed. You will be instructed to wear a support bra for a few weeks, until the swelling and discolouration of your breasts diminishes.
You may notice that you feel less sensation in the nipple and areola areas. This usually is temporary. It may, however, take weeks, months or even more than a year before sensation returns to normal. Your breasts may also require some time to assume a more natural shape. Incisions will initially be red or pink in colour. They will remain this way for many months following surgery.
When can I resume my normal activities?
After breast reduction surgery, it is often possible to return to work within just a couple of weeks, depending on your job. In many instances, you can resume most of your normal activities, including some form of mild exercise, after several weeks. You may continue to experience some mild, periodic discomfort during this time, but such feelings are normal. Severe pain should be reported to your doctor.
Any sexual activity should be avoided for a minimum of one week, and your cosmetic breast surgeon may advise you to wait longer. After that, care must be taken to be extremely gentle with your breasts for at least the next six weeks.
How long will the results last?
Unless you gain or lose a significant amount of weight or become pregnant, your breast size should remain fairly constant. However, gravity and the effects of aging will eventually alter the size and shape of virtually every woman’s breasts. If, after a period of years, you become dissatisfied with the appearance of your breasts, you may choose to undergo a breast “lifting” procedure to restore their more youthful contour.
Results of Breast Reduction
Breast reduction surgery will make your breasts smaller and firmer. Without the excessive weight of large breasts, you may find greater enjoyment in playing sports and engaging in physical activity.
The incisions from your breast reduction surgery will heal and fade over time. It is important to realize, however, that the incision lines will be permanently visible, more so in some individuals than others. Fortunately, the incisions for breast reduction are in locations easily concealed by clothing, even low-cut necklines.
Breast reduction often makes a dramatic change in your appearance. For this reason, it may take some time to adjust to your new body image. Most women, however, eventually become comfortable with their smaller breasts and feel very pleased with the results of surgery. In fact, the level of patient satisfaction resulting from breast reduction is among the highest of any plastic surgery procedure.
Maintaining a Relationship with Your Cosmetic breast surgeon
You will return to your cosmetic breast surgeon for follow-up care at prescribed intervals, at which time your progress will be evaluated. Once the immediate postoperative follow-up is complete, many surgeons encourage their patients to come back for periodic checkups to observe and discuss the long-term results of surgery.
Please remember that the relationship with your cosmetic breast surgeon does not end when you leave the operating room. If you have questions or concerns during your recovery, or need additional information at a later time, you should contact your surgeon.
Filed in Cosmetic breast surgeon.