What is a Breast Reduction?
Women with large, cumbersome breasts often suffer from chronic back and neck pain, skin irritation, deep grooves in their shoulders, and limited mobility. Prominent breasts can also draw unwanted attention to a woman’s chest, resulting in self-consciousness. Having excessively large breasts can be both physically and emotionally burdensome, but breast reduction surgery can address these concerns and restore a balanced breast profile. Breast reduction is a procedure designed to reduce the size of the breasts and make them more proportionate to the body. Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Constantino Mendieta has performed countless breast reduction procedures that have revitalized his patients’ comfort, appearance, and overall quality of life.
Am I an Ideal Candidate for Breast Reduction?
During the initial consultation, Dr. Mendieta assesses his patients’ anatomical and aesthetic needs to develop a customized surgical plan that will produce the most appealing outcome. Breast reduction is appropriate for patients who experience substantial back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain due to the breasts causing strain on their bodies. Candidates for breast reduction are also women with large breasts that have trouble exercising due to the chaffing caused by their breasts or awkward movement of their breasts during physical activity. If you find yourself wearing two or three sports bras at a time to manage your breasts during athletic activities, a breast reduction may be right for you.
In some cases, a breast reduction becomes a medically indicated procedure. Individuals in situations like these are usually good candidates for breast reduction. Other concerns women face that make them good candidates for breast reduction are:
- Deep indentations on the shoulders
- Skin irritation under the breasts
- Difficulty fitting into clothing
- Poor posture
- Low self-esteem
Less than ideal candidates for this treatment are women who smoke or have underlying health issues, such as diabetes. This is because the blood supply to the nipple is extremely important to provide a safe procedure.
What Are My Breast Reduction Options?
Undergoing breast reduction surgery to restore the appearance of the breasts and improve one’s confidence is a personal and life-enhancing decision. Because every patient has unique expectations of the procedure, breast reduction is entirely customized. This outpatient procedure can take between three and five hours to complete, and it is performed using general anesthesia. Depending on the desired extent of correction, breast reduction surgery will involve removing excess breast tissue through one of three different incisions.
This technique is most appropriate for patients who have breasts that require minimal correction. Two concentric incisions are made around the areolas, and a donut-shaped portion of tissue is removed. The remaining skin is sutured to the edges of the areolas, resulting in firmer, more proportionate breasts.
This technique is advantageous for patients who have breasts that require moderate correction. An incision is created around the edges of the areolas and down the lower breast to the inframammary crease, through which excess tissue is removed, and the remaining skin is tightened. Additionally, the nipple-areolar complex can be altered and repositioned. Under certain circumstances, repositioning of the nipple may require the removal of the nipple from the breast.
This technique is beneficial for women who have breasts that require significant correction. Incisions are placed around the areolas, down the lower breast, and along the inframammary fold, resulting in an anchor-shaped incision. Excess tissue is removed, and the skin of the breasts is tightened. Dr. Mendieta prefers the pedicle method, which helps preserve circulation to the nipple-areolar complex.
What Procedures Can a Breast Reduction Be Combined With?
The most common treatment combined with a breast reduction is a breast lift. A breast lift is a surgical procedure designed to reposition the breasts to a higher, more youthful sitting position by addressing the skin laxity that may have been caused by large breasts. Breast lifts can also restore breast shape to create a perkier and more youthful bust. When combined with a breast reduction, some of the major benefits of this treatment are the lack of multiple downtimes, correction to downward-pointing areolas, and lifting of drooping or sagging breasts.
What Is Recovery Like for Breast Reduction?
Recovery from breast reduction surgery can last up to six weeks. It is important to sleep in an elevated position for maximum comfort and faster healing. Patients may experience bruising and swelling following breast reduction surgery, but these side effects will resolve within a few weeks. Dr. Mendieta will prescribe pain medication to help manage any discomfort.
It is recommended to refrain from exercising for at least three to four weeks, but patients are encouraged to take short, leisurely walks as soon as possible to promote circulation and minimize swelling. Depending on how extensive the procedure is, physical activity may be limited for as long as 10 weeks.
A nutritional and healthy diet is vital to having the most successful recovery. Without the proper fuel, your body will take longer to recover and adjust to the new weight of your reduced breast size. Also, a nutritionist recommended by your care provider may help you find the appropriate balance between the right amount of calories, macronutrients, micronutrients, and healthy fats to give your body the tools it needs to maintain your results.
When Will I See My Breast Reduction Results?
Patients will notice a significant improvement immediately following breast reduction surgery, but the final results will not be apparent until residual swelling has subsided, and the tissue has healed. Most breast reduction patients report feeling confident about their body and leading a more comfortable and healthy life after surgery. Some of the benefits of fully healed breast reduction results include an improved posture, restored self-confidence, the ability to fit into new clothes, and exercise more effectively. Some women experience weight loss once they have had their breast reduction for several months. This is because they are finally able to participate in exercises that are no longer stopped by their breasts. Encouraged self-esteem can also lead to more time spent in the gym and a significant decrease in weight.
The outcome of this procedure is considered permanent; however, subsequent pregnancies, weight gain, and natural aging may alter the appearance of the breasts. Be sure to talk with your surgeon after your procedure regarding how to maintain your results over time. Follow-up appointments are also paramount to having a healthy recovery process, as proper recovery leads to proper results. When your results have fully healed and settled with your body, you may be asked to take an “After” photo. “After” photos are helpful for properly documenting the beauty of your transformation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Reduction
How much does breast reduction surgery cost?
The price of breast reduction surgery depends on many factors, including the extent of correction required, geographical location, surgical techniques used, surgical fees, and anesthesia fees. An accurate cost estimate of your personalized procedure will be calculated during your initial consultation. Additional treatments, such as a breast lift, will also affect costs.
Can a breast reduction impact my ability to breastfeed?
Breast reduction can affect a woman’s ability to breastfeed. A lack of breast milk due to a breast reduction is typically caused by the fact that the extraction of breast tissue responsible for milk production occurred during the procedure. Still, not all women who have a breast reduction encounter complications with breastfeeding. Most women are still able to breastfeed, especially after consulting a lactation specialist or naturopath.
What are other risks associated with breast reduction surgery?
Experiencing complications before or after breast reduction surgery is rare. However, the risks of any surgical procedure may include:
- Bleeding or hematoma
- Loss of sensation at or near the surgical site
- Breast asymmetry
- Abnormal reaction to anesthesia
At what age can a woman choose to undergo breast reduction surgery?
A breast reduction procedure can be performed at most ages, with younger patients being able to have breast reduction once the breasts have fully developed. Young candidates are typically young women in their teens who are experiencing abnormal growth in their breasts compared to the proportion of their bodies. In some cases, younger patients who suffer from juvenile breast hypertrophy may qualify for surgery in their teens. These patients should have their condition thoroughly evaluated by a primary care provider specializing in women’s health and a board-certified plastic surgeon. Breast reduction is also possible for women past middle age.
How should I prepare for my breast reduction procedure?
After your overall health has been evaluated by a board-certified plastic surgeon, you may also be advised to undergo a mammogram. Avoid taking anti-inflammatory medications and supplements, and quit using tobacco products at least two weeks before surgery. Inform your surgeon if you are taking prescription medication so that the appropriate precautions can be noted.
Is it possible to have two breast reductions if I don’t like the first one?
It is technically possible to have a second breast reduction after your first breast reduction. However, patients should note that there may be significant changes to their nerve tissue and their ability to breastfeed after more than one treatment. Good candidates for a second breast reduction are patients who have not encountered serious complications with their first breast reduction and patients who have enough breast tissue remaining to operate. You should always discuss the size you truly want before your initial treatment to avoid further costs, recovery, and general risks to your health that come with surgery.
Will I still have fullness in my breasts after a breast reduction?
The fullness of your breasts after a breast reduction will depend on your surgeon’s technique, volume prior to surgery, and tissue removal during the treatment. The ideal outcome of a breast reduction should leave your breasts with the appropriate projection and shapeliness to feel and look natural. If maintaining a particular volume in your breasts is necessary, be sure to mention this as part of your surgery goals during the consultation so that your surgeon can make the proper adjustments.
How small of a cup size can my breasts become with a breast reduction?
Any size reduction is possible as long as a surgeon can conserve enough breast tissue to support the breasts’ function, such as the nipple and the proper structure of the breast glands, nerves, and other structures. This includes supporting proper blood flow and milk production.
Does breast reduction scarring eventually fade?
Breast reduction scars are known to have difficulty fading with some patients. However, this does not mean some patients can’t see improvements in their scars or even a complete fading of their scars in this area. It is also important to be patient, as scars often go through phases of shading and may even take over a year to lighten. Applying topical solutions like vitamin oils, vegetable oils, and plant-based toners like Witch-hazel and Aloe vera can promote scar fading.
Should I wait to get a breast reduction after pregnancy?
As your body continues to change during pregnancy, it is likely that the volume, size, and projection of your breasts will continue to change. It is ideal for most women to receive a breast reduction after they know they are done having children so that their breast reduction results won’t be reversed by the changes caused by pregnancy.