What is Breast Reduction Surgery?
A breast reduction procedure can be performed for a number of reasons, including reducing neck and back pain while improving firmness, shape, weight, and size in proportion to the rest of the body. Here at Boulder Plastic Surgery, our surgeons have extensive training and experience in breast reduction surgery for removing excess skin, fat, and glandular tissue, as well as tightening the skin for firmness and shape.
In reduction mammoplasty, three separate components of the breasts are modified in order to reduce the overall size of the breast and improve the shape of the remaining breast tissue:
- The total amount of fat and glandular tissue in the breast is reduced
- The skin itself is reduced and tailored to fit the smaller size of the reduced breast
- The nipple areola complex is repositioned and moved upward to be centered on the new breast mound (the breast is “lifted”)
Is Breast Reduction Right For Me?
While plastic surgery is often thought of as being done for only cosmetics concerns, many patients undergo breast reduction because their overly large breasts are causing neck and back pain, posture problems, and skin irritation.
- Shoulder Grooving: An indentation in the shoulder caused by a bra strap trying to bear the weight of overly large breasts. Shoulder grooving can cause pain and disfigurement.
- Back and Neck Pain: The weight of the breasts negatively affects the patient’s posture, creating back and neck pain.
- Rashes: Heavy breasts lay directly on the skin, so moisture accumulates underneath the breasts and causes rashes.
- Physical Limitation: Large breasts make it difficult to participate in certain physical activities. This makes weight loss and physical fitness an uncomfortable and frustrating experience.
- Social Embarrassment: Women with bigger breasts tend to feel self conscious about certain social situations, such as swimming. Due to lack of confidence, women with large breasts may avoid certain social occasions.
- Difficulty Finding Appropriate Clothes: Different body types require different sizes and styles. Some men and women don’t fit into the standard sizes, which means they need to get alterations. Women with large breasts frequently encounter this problem.
About The Procedure
- Length: 2 to 3 hours
- Anesthesia: Often outpatient surgery under general anesthesia
- Side Effects: Temporary pain or discomfort, swelling, bruising, numbness, dry breast skin. Permanent scars. Possible loss of ability to breast-feed.
- Recovery: Tasks of daily living may be resumed in 3 to 5 days. Back to non-strenuous work (no lifting more than 10 lbs) in 1 to 2 weeks. No strong pushing, pulling, or repetitive upper body movements for 3 weeks.
- Exercise: Resume 1/3 intensity at 3 weeks. Low impact activities at 1/3 duration of exercise, repetitions, amount of weight and pulse rate. 2/3 intensity at 6 weeks. Full intensity including high impact (running, horse back riding, high impact aerobics) at 8 weeks.
- Fading & Scar Improvement: 6 to 24 months
- Swelling: Moderate/Significant 4 weeks, subtle/mild 2 to 3 months, all of which are dependent upon extent of procedure(s).
- Duration of Results: Variable. Breast size may fluctuate with hormonal shifts, weight changes, and pregnancy.
- Office Visits: 1st visit at five days. 2nd visit 7 to 10 days. 4 to 5 visits the first 3 months and then yearly check-ups.
- Garment Worn: Support as needed for 6 weeks.
- Pain Meds: Ibuprofen or Narcotics as needed.
The Initial Consultation
During a patient’s first breast reduction consultation, the doctors at Boulder Plastic Surgery will:
- Discuss the patient’s breast issues (cosmetic and physical concerns)
- Cover patient’s health history
- Examine the patient’s breast size
- Measure the body’s frame and torso
- Take pre-operative photographs (for insurance pre-authorization if applicable)
- After the exam, our doctors will be able to determine the appropriate breast procedure plan and discuss it in detail. In regards to breast reduction candidacy, age is not a limiting factor. A good candidate has overall good health.
Note: Patients are encouraged to write down additional questions for discussion. Communication is key, and the doctors need to know what patients are specifically unhappy about in regards to their breasts.
Preparing For Your Reduction Mammoplasty or Mastopexy
The best outcomes are a result of good health and healthy habits (diet, exercise, and appropriate medical evaluations). It’s important to precondition the body for a breast reduction procedure. To condition the body, the Boulder Plastic Surgery’s program involves:
- Knowing about the patient’s daily supplements so the doctors can recommend the appropriate dietary, herbal, and vitamin needs.
- Supplying patients with nutritional supplements to take a week before the procedure to boost the body’s immune system and remove toxins that could interfere with local anesthesia and increase bleeding.
- Discussing possible limitations, risk, and complications.
- Running periodic tests, including:
- Blood tests and chemistries
- Pregnancy test (if applicable)
- Electrocardiogram (depends on age and cardiac status)
- Do not take any aspirin for at least two weeks prior to surgery. Aspirin can interfere with blood clotting, which is important to the body’s ability to heal properly.
- People who smoke should stop two weeks before the procedure and shouldn’t smoke for at least four weeks after the surgery.
The Day of Breast Reduction Surgery
Before a patient walks into the surgical facility, they should follow these instructions:
- Do not eat or drink anything for at least eight hours prior to surgery – the stomach needs to be empty for the anesthesia to be as safe as possible.
- Wear loose fitting clothes (preferably a shirt with buttons in the front) – they are more comfortable to put on after surgery.
- Arrange for a friend or family member to take the patient home following the breast reduction surgery – patients should not drive or operate machinery after taking anesthesia.
- The nurses will cleanse the area that is going to be operated on, and markings will be made on the breasts to indicate the areas of incision. The doctors may also insert small silicone rubber drains at the corners of the incisions if the surgeon anticipates excessive fluid drainage.
Note: A patient will need to remain in the recovery room for approximately one to two hours after the procedure.
Breast Reduction Recovery
We take considerable measure to avoid possible untoward side-effects, including:
- Significant bleeding
- Decreased sensitivity of the nipples
- Towards the end of the surgery, our doctors will suture the incisions closed. During the 48 hours after surgery, patients should apply cold compresses and take any pain medication and antibiotics that are prescribed by the doctor. The patient will also have to wear a compressive dressing for several days until a bra can be worn in place of it.
- Fill prescribed medication before the procedure
- Take pain medicine as directed immediately upon arrival at home (always take with food)
- Position yourself in a comfortable chair or couch to avoid pressure on the chest
- Eat liquids and light foods the evening of the surgery (only consume liquids if nausea occurs)
- Wear a front-hook bra with an elastic underneath the breast to provide optimal support
Note: Please inform the anesthesiologist about any previous history with nausea after anesthesia. Anti-nausea medication given during the procedure can reduce nausea symptoms post procedure.
Breast Reduction Scars
At first, scar tissue may appear raised and red, but with time (6-24 months), the incisions will appear faded and thin. Scars are usually found beneath the breast, around the areola, and directly from the edge of the areola to the fold of the breast. The surgeons try to place incisions where the bra and bathing suit lines can cover up minimal scarring. The extent of scarring depends on how well the patient’s body heals.
Breast Reduction Cost
For the surgery time, operating room, surgeon, and anesthesia, the estimated cost for breast reduction surgery ranges from $8,500-9,000.
Medical insurance can oftentimes cover a breast reduction procedure, but this depends on the type of insurance and reason for the surgery. Please contact your health insurance company for more information.
Note: Patients with a family history of breast cancer and/or are over the age of 35 will also need to schedule a mammogram to ensure that breast reduction is possible.
This is a big decision, and it’s one that patients should feel well informed about. The best way to know if breast reduction surgery is right for you is to contact Boulder Plastic Surgery for a consultation. Call (303)-578-4193 to set-up an appointment with one of our doctors to go over your specific case.
“Your professionalism and work are unsurpassed — your sincere warmth and caring, patience and support mean so much — more than I can say. You’re very special — I am so grateful.” – MK
“A million thanks. I’m so grateful to have connected with you. You’re a fantastic doctor with an amazing spirit, warmth, a kind heart, generosity and full of a love and zest for life.” – D
“I don’t think I can put into words how happy I am. You and your staff made the entire process easy and enjoyable. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” – CS