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Breast Reduction
Reduction Mammaplasty


Are your breasts large enough to cause physical problems such as back or neck pain? Do they make you feel overweight or unattractive? You clicked on this site looking for ways to feel better about yourself. The information below describes breast reduction surgery - the benefits, risks, profile of good candidates and more. With this information you will be able to make an informed decision and discover the options available to improving your health and appearance.

Breast reduction is usually performed to relieve physical problems with a secondary benefit of cosmetic improvement. Most women who have the surgery are seeking relief of very large, sagging breasts that restrict their activities and cause discomfort or even health problems. But women are not alone in their search for feeling better. Many men are having breast reduction surgery for the very same reasons, they want to reduce physical symptoms and improve the way they look.

"Breast reduction is usually

performed to relieve physical problems
with a secondary benefit of cosmetic improvement."

For women, breast reduction isn't performed until a woman's breasts are fully developed; however, it can be done earlier if large breasts are causing serious physical discomfort. The best candidates are those who are mature enough to fully understand the procedure and have realistic expectations of the results. Breast reduction is not recommended for women who intend to breast-feed.

Who Would Best Represent an Ideal Candidate For Breast Reduction Surgery?

breast reduction
  • Patients with back, neck, or shoulder pain caused by the weight of their breasts
  • Patients whose nipples sit low on the breasts and have large areolas
  • Patients with breasts that are too large in proportion to the rest of their body
  • Patients who are uncomfortable with the size and weight of their breasts
  • Patients whose activities are limited because of the size of their breasts
  • who have one breast that is much larger than the other
  • who are in good health
  • Patients who understand the risks and have realistic expectations

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What Are the Risks and Limitations of Breast Reduction?

"By closely following your

doctor's instructions, both before and after surgery, you can greatly reduce the risk of complications."

As with any surgery, there is always a possibility of complications. Though rare, patients may experience bleeding, infection, or reaction to the anesthesia. Some patients develop small sores around their nipples after surgery; these can be treated with antibiotic creams. By closely following your doctor's instructions, both before and after surgery, you can greatly reduce the risk of complications.

The procedure does cause some scaring. (Poor healing and wider scars are more common in smokers.) The procedure can also cause slightly mismatched breasts or unevenly positioned nipples, though these can be corrected with an additional procedure. Future breast-feeding may not be possible, since the surgery removes many of the milk ducts leading to the nipples. Also, patients typically lose some feeling in the breasts or nipples that may be permanent.
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Preparation Before the Breast Reduction Procedure

It is important to discuss your expectations with the doctor during the initial consultation. Listen to his or her opinion and keep in mind that patients and physicians have different views of what is a desirable size and shape for breasts. Above all, the breasts need to be properly proportioned to reduce any physical problems they may be causing.

The doctor will examine your breasts in detail, and may ask to photograph them for reference after the surgery. (The photographs may also be used in the processing of insurance.) He or she will discuss any variables that may affect the procedure-such as your age, the size and shape of your breasts, and the condition of your skin. Be sure to discuss how the nipple and areola will be positioned. They will be moved higher during the procedure, and should be approximately even with the crease beneath your breasts.

Your doctor will also describe the procedure, explaining risks and limitations and making sure you have realistic expectations of the outcome.

"The doctor may require

you to have a mammogram before surgery."

The doctor may require you to have a mammogram (breast x-ray) before surgery. You'll also get specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications. Some surgeons suggest that their patients diet before the operation.
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The Breast Reduction Surgery

Breast reduction is a procedure where excess breast tissue, fat, and skin are removed. The nipple and areola are lifted, and skin that was located above the nipple is brought down, pulled together and sutured to improve the shape and contour. The type of incision used depends on the size and shape of the breasts. The incisions are designed so that they will be concealed under the bra, however the resulting scars are permanent. Most scars fade over time. Occasionally, when only fat needs to be removed, liposuction alone can be used to reduce breast size, leaving minimal scars.
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Recovery from the Breast Reduction Procedure

breast reductionWithin the first week any drains will be removed. Bandages will also be changed. Within two weeks, mild exercise and non-strenuous work may be resumed, bruising will begin to fade, and swelling will go down. After a few months your breasts will settle into a more natural shape. As with any procedure, the cosmetic effects will take about a year before the final results are realized. Without the excess weight you may find that you enjoy life much more, and can participate in physical activities you did not think possible.
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Your new look:

It may be six months to a year before your breasts settle into their new shape, but swelling will begin to diminish after only a few weeks. Even then, their shape may fluctuate in response to any hormonal shifts, weight changes, or pregnancy.

"Of all plastic surgery procedures,

breast reduction results in the quickest body-image changes."

The doctor will make every effort to reduce the scaring as much as possible. Still, it's important to remember that breast reduction scars can be extensive and permanent. They often are red and lumpy for months, gradually becoming less obvious, sometimes fading to a thin white line. Fortunately, the scars can usually be placed so that you can wear even low-cut tops.

Of all plastic surgery procedures, breast reduction results in the quickest body-image changes. You will be rid of the physical discomfort of the excess weight, your clothes will fit better, and you will look more proportioned. Keep in mind that you will need time to adjust to your new image, as will your family and friends. Be patient with yourself, and with them. Remember the purpose of the surgery, and chances are, like most women, you too will be pleased with the results.
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Ten Questions Every Breast Reduction Surgery Patient Should Ask Their Surgeon:

Prior to all breast reduction procedures, a consultation will occur between the prospective patient and the providing surgeon. During this consultation the cosmetic surgeon and patient will discuss issues such as the desired outcome, various options that are available to address said outcome, the procedure itself as well as various risks and limitations. The surgeon will also provide information regarding anesthesia options, the location and description of where the breast reduction procedure will be performed (i.e., hospital vs. office surgical suite) and associated costs. A discussion regarding the patient's medical history, as well as a physical examination of the area to be treated will also take place during the consultation visit.
In an effort to educate the patient regarding breast reduction procedures, as well to assist in formulating realistic breast reduction expectations, it is recommended that the patient view numerous before and after photographs, speak with previous breast reduction patients, as well as obtain responses to the following questions:
  1. Are the desired results I described realistic?
  2. Where is the breast reduction surgery performed and how long will it take?
  3. How will breast reduction affect my ability to breastfeed, and where will the incision scars be visible?
  4. What kind of anesthesia will the surgeon use during the breast reduction surgery and what are the side effects associated with this anesthesia?
  5. How much does breast reduction surgery cost and what elements factor into that cost (i.e., hospital fee, anesthesia, etc)?
  6. How can I expect my breasts to look over time? After pregnancy? After breastfeeding?
  7. What are my options if I am dissatisfied with the outcome?
  8. What is the surgeon's policy in regards to correcting or repeating the procedure if the breast reduction surgery does not meet agreed upon goals?
  9. What should I expect, post-operatively, in terms of soreness, scarring, activity level, etc?
  10. Have you ever had your malpractice insurance coverage denied, revoked or suspended?
In addition to the previously mentioned questions, it is imperative that breast reduction surgery patients relay to their surgeon information regarding any allergies and serious medical conditions they may have. Furthermore, breast reduction patients should inform the surgeon of any medications they are taking.
This site provides information about plastic/cosmetic surgery and is designed to help users make decisions regarding their own treatment options. But medical information is not the same as medical advice--the application of medical treatment to an individual's specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a qualified medical practitioner if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.
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Related Links:

Best Breast Reduction Method for Women of Color
Breast Reduction Using Liposuction, The Young Woman’s Choice
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