Breast reduction not only improves the size, but also the shape, of overly large breasts. The condition of oversized breasts is called breast hypertrophy. Breast hypertrophy may develop at any time: at puberty, during teenage growth years, or after childbirth. The condition often causes problems such as back pain, bra strap pain and irritation of the skin under the breasts. Patients with very large breasts may have difficulty with physical activities such as tennis or jogging. They also may have problems dressing, particularly in today’s popular athletic wear.
Patients as young as 14 and as old as 70 have had successful breast reduction. In younger patients, the surgery may be performed once breast size has been stable for at least one year. When breast hypertrophy is significant, insurance may cover some or all of the costs of surgery, however our office does not participate with any insurance.
Breast hypertrophy is characterized by three anatomic problems:
excessive glandular tissue;
excessive and/or loose skin over the gland; and
low placement of the nipple areolar complex.
Breast reduction surgery (reduction mammoplasty) corrects all three by reducing the size of the gland, repositioning the nipple and reshaping the breast.
Based on your age and breast size, the surgeon chooses one of several possible techniques to reposition the nipple. Then, a portion of the glandular tissue is removed and the loose skin tightened to support and shape the reduced breast. The resulting scars are located around the nipple and in front of and under the breast, in the breast crease.
Reduction mammoplasty usually is performed on an outpatient basis or with a one-night hospital stay. After surgery, a large, bulky dressing will be placed around your chest, and a small tube, called a drain, may be used to remove blood or fluid (serum) from the surgical area. The dressing will be changed and the drain removed two or three days after surgery. You will be given a soft postoperative bra to wear continuously for three weeks, except during bathing.
You should not wear underwire bras or participate in impact exercises or athletics during this time. Patients usually return to work, school or other routines 10 to 14 days after surgery.
Complications from reduction mammoplasty are unusual. Occasionally, there may be a change in nipple sensation, but this is usually temporary. There have been rare instances of nipple damage.