A breast reduction is a surgical procedure to reduce your breast size. This operation is common and according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons there were about 50,000 breast reduction procedures performed in 2019
What is breast reduction surgery?
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons defines breast reduction, reduction mammaplasty, as the removal of “excess breast tissue, fat and skin to achieve a breast size in proportion with your body and alleviate discomfort.” Essentially, breast reduction surgery aims to make the patient’s chest smaller and more in proportion with their unique frame.
Common Reasons for Breast Reduction Surgery
There are 3 main reasons for a breast reduction procedure:
- Reduction in breast cancer risk
Most breast reduction surgeries aim to help women reduce symptoms chronic pain associated with their large breasts, including:
- Back and shoulder pain
- Neck pain
- Rashes and irritation in the breast folds
The excess weight of the breasts can cause shoulder, neck and back pain. This neck and shoulder pain is a primary reason many seek breast reduction. It can also cause rashes and irritation in the nipple and breast folds due to moisture and irritation from heavy bras. It is also common for women with large breasts to have a difficult time losing weight since the weight of their breasts interferes with their ability to exercise and be active.
While one of the main benefits of breast reduction surgery is improved comfort, there is certainly a cosmetic component as well. Oftentimes, women with overly large breasts feel heavier than their actual weight. They commonly complain of being “top heavy” and have trouble wearing specific types of clothes.
A breast reduction will make the chest smaller and can give the appearance of a slimmer body. An important part of a breast reduction is also a breast lift. This means that in some breast reduction patients in addition to making the breasts smaller, they will also be lifted. The ultimate result will be smaller, lifted, and perkier breasts. A well performed breast reduction should make you feel better AND look better.
Reduction in Breast Cancer Risk
Does a breast reduction reduce cancer risk? There was a well performed study done in Sweden that demonstrated that breast reduction surgery can decrease the risk of breast cancer. They found that there was a 28% decreased incidence in breast cancer among women who had undergone a breast reduction. The rationale is that after a breast reduction procedure, there is less native breast tissue that can ultimately undergo cancerous transformation. This has led some women who have a family history of breast cancer to electively undergo breast reduction surgery.
Can Men Get a Breast Reduction?
Men can get breast reduction surgery as well. Male breast reduction surgery benefits men who find themselves with excess tissue in their chests — a condition called gynecomastia. The procedure helps reduce self-consciousness associated with male breasts and can make men more comfortable both in and out of their clothes.
How to prepare for your Breast Reduction surgery
Once you have learned that you are a good breast reduction candidate, it’s important to be ready for your surgery ahead of time and to know what to expect before, during, and after your procedure. You will need to take time off work and away from your normal activities once the procedure is finished, and you will also need someone with you, taking care of you for at least a week. Preparing individually and with your family ahead of time is a good idea.
At your initial consultation, your surgeon will go over everything you should expect during your surgery. Your plastic surgeon will discuss how much breast tissue you would like removed. They will also go over recovery instructions including what kind of surgical bra to wear during recovery. Depending on your current health status, you may need to stop taking certain medications or dietary supplements (some drugs such as aspirin may thin the blood and be dangerous for surgery as they increase bleeding). You should also quit smoking if you are a smoker, since nicotine can significantly impair healing.
Your surgeon will discuss the specific plans for your surgery. There are several different breast reduction techniques and each has different skin incisions and scars. Your surgeon should demonstrate on your body what your scar will look like. He or she will also let you know how long you will be in the operating room. On average, a breast reduction can take 2-4 hours in the operating room. Obviously, the larger the breast reduction scars are, the longer it will take.
All breast reduction surgeries require prior medical evaluations and possibly lab tests. You may need to have a mammogram as well if you are 40 years or older, or have any personal or family or medical history because of breast problems.
Recovering from breast reduction surgery
This surgical procedure is done as an outpatient, meaning that you will be permitted to go home the same day. After an appropriate time in the recovery room, you will be able to leave with your surgical escort. You will be given pain medications, but we find that a breast reduction recovery tends to be among the least painful procedures that we perform.
Dr. Schulman will provide you with post-op instructions, which you and your chosen caregiver must follow closely for your safety and for optimal results from the surgery. Several follow-up appointments will be scheduled as well. At these appointments, Dr. Schulman will remove your bandages and examine the progress of your healing. Stitches will be moved as necessary, but most simply dissolve on their own over time.
In most cases, returning to work is possible in one to two weeks following breast reduction surgery. Of course, this will depend on the specific type of work that you do. Returning to physical activity and exercise will take longer. This is especially true for physical activities involving breast movement (like jogging or running).
You should expect to refrain from exercise for about 3 weeks. Continue following your post-op directions and attending your follow-up appointments, and your surgeon will let you know when you can return to your typical routine.
Many women with extra-large chests find that larger breasts are problematic. Large breasts can cause pain and discomfort on a daily basis. They can exacerbate other physical problems and they can even restrict your activity and diminish your self-esteem. Even some teenage girls suffer the pain and embarrassment of very large breasts.
This is why this cosmetic surgery procedure is sometimes performed on teens, when their breasts have stopped growing. Breast reduction surgery may eliminate many of these complaints and is the plastic surgery procedure with the highest satisfaction rate.
Book your Breast Reduction Consultation
You might have questions about the breast reduction surgery cost with insurance, these questions are common. If you are a women, man, or teen, and thinking about undergoing a breast reduction, make sure to find a board certified plastic surgeon experienced in this procedure. Dr. Matthew Schulman is a breast and body expert here in New York City. To learn more about breast reduction surgery and why it may be right for you, contact us through our website or call the office.