Breast reduction is an outpatient procedure which reduces the size of breasts by excising fat, skin and glandular tissue. The results are usually also lighter and firmer breasts that do not droop. The surgeon may also change the size and the shape of the areola or nipples. Most women have restored confidence, as well.

Candidates

are women with large, pendulous breasts, especially gigantomastia. The weight of their breasts may cause chronic pain of the head, neck, back and shoulders, plus circulation and breathing problems. The weight may also cause discomfort as a result of brassiere straps abrading or irritating the skin. Some women are embarrased by their large breasts.

For these reasons, the surgery is usually covered by insurance.

This procedure is usually performed on individuals with fully-developed breasts. It is not recommended for women who desire to breastfeed.

Techniques

Inferior pedicle (keyhole or Weiss pattern)

This technique involves an anchor-shaped incision which circles the areola. The incision extends downward, following the natural curve of the breast. Excess glandular tissue, fat and skin are removed. The nipple and areola are moved into their new higher position. It includes a breast lift. It leaves more nipple sensitivity and capability to lactate for the patient as compared to other techniques of the past. A drawback is sometimes "square" looking breasts, but this is a common option for the largest, droopiest breasts.

Vertical scar (SPAIR or short scar)

This technique involves a "lolipop incision". There are no horizontal incisions. It leaves minimal scarring and the scars are less likely to broaden with time. The breast is reduced through removal of the lateral and inferior tissues, leaving the upper pole mostly untouched. It results in rounder breasts. It produces the best results in the long term.

Liposuction only

This technique is for women with not so large breasts. For the best outcomes, women who choose this procedure have perkier breasts without a drooping nipple, as the skin itself never moves, but, rather, fat is simply removed from inside of the breast. The result is not as drastic as the other techniques, but it involves a much quicker healing time, less pain and less money.

Free nipple graft

This common technique used only in extreme cases of drooping. The areola and nipple are completely removed for relocation and replaced as a skin graft higher on the breast. Sensation from the areola area will be lost and it is most likely to impair lactation.

Risks

Asymmetry, delayed wound healing, altered nipple sensation, fluid retention in the breast, altered erogenous function and late changes in shape and recurrent ptosis (drooping.) It may impair breastfeeding due to the surgical disruption to the lactiferous duct system. Scarring from this procedure may be extensive and permanent. Initially, the scars are lumpy and red, but they gradually subside into their final smaller sizes as thin lines, slightly discolored. The surgeon can make the scars inconspicuous to the point that even low-cut tops may be worn without visible scars.

Cancer-prevention

Although not advocated as a cancer risk reducing procedure, a womans risk of subsequently developing breast cancer will be reduced proportionately to the amount of breast tissue left.

The surgery may make mammograms easier, since it may be difficult to get a decent mammogram reading with a great deal of excess breast tissue.

Recovery

Patients may take a few weeks for initial recovery, however it may take from 6 months to a year for the body to completely adjust to the new breast size. Some women may experience discomfort during their initial menstruation following the surgery due to the breasts swelling.

The surgical procedure for breast reduction takes 2 to 4 hours.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons - 2011, surgeons fees only.
Breast Reduction for Women (Mammoplasty) $5317


This page has been updated on the 2017-12-18.