How Does a Breast Reduction Surgery Work?Body Plastic Surgery
Having firm, proportioned, and average-size breasts is what makes a female’s body more attractive and appealing. However, having beautiful breasts is not as easy as it sounds. Many women with overly large breasts cannot reduce their breasts’ size by going on a diet or having a regular exercise plan, so they choose surgical treatment to improve their appearance and reduce the discomforts caused by their excessively large breasts (gigantomastia).
Breast reduction surgery, also known as reduction mammoplasty, is a plastic surgery procedure aimed at reducing the size and reshaping the breasts. It is a popular choice for individuals who experience physical discomfort, emotional distress, or self-consciousness due to excessively large breasts.
Read on to get more information about breast reduction surgery procedures, its ideal candidates, potential side effects, and recovery.
What Is Breast Reduction Surgery?
Breast reduction surgery, also known as breast reduction mammoplasty, is a major operation in which the extra fats, tissues, and skin are removed from the breast to make it look better. Women with abnormally large breasts (Macromastia) usually suffer from rash under the breasts, shoulder and neck pain, backache, numb fingers, physical activity limitations, and low self-confidence. Breast reduction surgery can eliminate all these problems by making the breasts smaller and firmer.
Who Can Get Reduction Mammoplasty?
In most cases, overly large breasts are developed due to genetic factors, hormonal changes, drug use, pregnancy, breastfeeding, weight gain, and unhealthy diet and lifestyle. Regardless of what caused gigantomastia, the patients who have the following features are considered good candidates for reduction mammoplasty surgery:
- Having chronic pain in the neck, shoulder, and upper back
- Having marks or grooves on the shoulder because of bra straps
- Having skin irritation (rash, redness, infection) under the breasts
- Having poor self-image due to large breasts
- Having limitations in doing daily activities and exercising
- Having trouble fitting into clothes
- Having fully grown breasts
- Not having the plan to get pregnant and breastfeed in the future
- Not having a plan to lose weight can affect the size and shape of the breasts
In addition to the mentioned factors, the candidate should be a non-smoker, have a normal BMI, and have realistic expectations about the results and scars of the surgery.
Types of Breast Reduction Surgery Techniques
In the consultation session, the surgeon examines you and asks questions to decide which breast reduction surgery technique benefits you more. Based on the elasticity of your skin, the amount of fat and tissue that should be removed, the extent of your breast sagginess, and your future goals (pregnancy, breastfeeding, losing weight), the doctor chooses one of the following techniques:
Lollipop breast reduction
Lollipop or vertical breast reduction is more suitable for the ones who have saggy tits and expect a moderate reduction in their breast size. In this method, the surgeon makes a horizontal incision around the edge of the areola and a vertical one from the bottom of the areola to the breast crease.
Since these incisions are all made below the nipple, they can be easily concealed by a bra or bikini. Also, in this technique, the surgeon can fully lift the breasts.
Anchor breast reduction
Anchor or inverted-T breast reduction is more suitable for women who expect great shifts in their breast's appearance, have asymmetrical breasts, or have too saggy tits. In this technique, the surgeon makes three incisions: one around the edge of the areola, one vertically from the areola to the breast crease, and one vertically along the crease.
The scars of this technique are pretty much the same as the lollipop method, but there would be one extra thin scar under the breast that a normal bra can cover.
Preparing for Breast Reduction Surgery
The first step in breast reduction surgery is finding a skilled plastic surgeon because only an experienced cosmetic surgeon can make your dream of having perfect breasts come true. Then, you should take some blood tests and physical examinations, provide a detailed medical history, and get a baseline mammogram to detect abnormal overgrowth of breast tissue.
Moreover, you have to arrange a consultation meeting with your doctor to ask about your surgery's possible risks, side effects, and scarring and discuss your expectations with them.
It is recommended that the patients avoid smoking for six weeks before the surgery and refrain from taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements from two weeks before the operation.
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Breast Reduction Surgery Procedure
Breast reduction surgery is mainly performed in two ways: open and with liposuction. Both methods involve an incision, but the number and extent of the cuts in the liposuction method are much fewer. Keep reading to know more about the procedure of these methods:
Open breast reduction surgery
Open breast reduction surgery is performed under general anesthesia and takes two to three hours. In this operation, the surgeon makes large incisions around the nipples and under each breast to have more access to the inner parts of the breasts. Then, excess tissues, fats, and skin are removed from the breasts to reduce their size.
Finally, the surgeon lifts the breasts, repositions the nipple and areola, and stitches the breast skin. If the patient tends to breastfeed in the future, the surgeon keeps the milk ducts and nipples attached to the breast tissue, but in obese women with very large breasts, the surgeon has to remove them and add a new nipple to the breast.
Breast reduction with liposuction
Reduction mammoplasty with liposuction is a less invasive procedure with fewer scars and a shorter recovery period. In this method, the surgeon makes small incisions under the breast or armpit and removes the fatty tissues with a suctioning device and tumescent.
This technique is unsuitable for women with very fibrous breasts and many glandular tissues because it removes only extra fat deposits -not the glands.
What to Expect After Breast Reduction Surgery?
Immediately after reduction mammoplasty surgery
As breast reduction surgery is an invasive procedure, you should stay a night at the hospital so that your vital signs can be checked. Meanwhile, your healthcare provider will cover your breasts with a bandage and gauze or ask you to wear a surgical bra to hold the breasts in place. If you have pain in the operated area, you can ask your doctor to give you some painkillers to ease your soreness.
The first week after the surgery
The first week after breast reduction is the hardest, as you have severe pain and discomfort.
Having discharges for a couple of days after the surgery is normal. Your doctor probably places a tube under your arm to drain the excess fluid faster. The drain will be removed 2 to 5 days following the surgery.
Two to three weeks after the surgery
Your breasts are tender, swollen, bruised, and slightly painful in weeks two and three. During this time, you need to wear a surgical bra to support the breasts and keep them lifted. It would help if you took OTC or prescribed painkillers to relieve your pain and antibiotics to prevent the infection. The bruising will disappear almost 20 days after the surgery, but the swelling and scars may last 6-12 months.
Week four and beyond
From the fourth week onward, you will have no pain and bruising in your chest, and you can return to your daily routine. However, you must avoid exercising and doing heavy activities for at least eight weeks. To reduce the swelling and give a better shape to the breasts, you should wear an approved surgical or sports bra and maintain a healthy diet.
Breast Reduction Surgery Recovery
The recovery period of reduction mammoplasty is shorter than other body plastic surgeries, and it usually takes 6 to 12 weeks, depending on how fast your wounds heal. The drains -under your arms- will be removed two to five days after the surgery, and the non-absorbable stitches will be removed two weeks after the operation.
Since you cannot drive, sit down for too long, and lift things, you should take at least two weeks off and ask somebody to help you with housework and shopping. If you have a physically demanding job, it is better to take more days off.
Moreover, you must wear a sports bra 24/7 for three to six months after the surgery -you can only take it off when bathing. You should also avoid heavy exercises such as stretching, doing karate, weight lifting, mountain climbing, biking, swimming, etc., for at least two months, or you will hurt your wounds.
Reduction Mammoplasty Scars
Reduction mammoplasty is an invasive procedure and involves incisions and stitches. After the surgery, there would be either an anchor-shaped scar under your breast or a vertical one running down your breast. The scars are red for the first six weeks, but they get paler over time, and eventually, they are barely visible under normal clothes and bikinis.
However, some breast reduction scars will not disappear independently, and you need laser treatment to remove them. If you care about scarring too much or have a history of developing keloids, discuss it with your surgeon before the operation so that they can choose the best breast reduction technique for you.
Is Breast Reduction Surgery Safe?
When carried out by a trained and experienced plastic surgeon, breast reduction surgery is generally considered safe. The patient's overall health, the surgical method employed, and adherence to postoperative care recommendations all play a role in the surgery's safety.
A thorough examination is performed before surgery to analyze the patient's medical history, current medications, and any relevant risk factors. While all procedures have inherent risks, such as bleeding, infection, or severe anesthetic reactions, these consequences are rare in breast reduction surgery. Patients must strictly adhere to their surgeon's recommendations to reduce any potential hazards linked with this treatment.
Breast Reduction Risks and Side Effects
Despite being a safe procedure, the following are some of the most common problems after breast reduction surgery:
- Thick scarring (like keloid and atrophic scar) that needs laser therapy or another surgery to be removed
- Asymmetry of the breasts
- Pain and bruising in the chest area
- Change in the sensation of nipples, which can last for a brief or long period
- Problem in breastfeeding
- Fat necrosis
- Excess skin growing around the wounds
- Hematoma or bleeding inside the tissue
- Allergic reaction to anesthetics
- Formation of blood clots in arteries
- Infection of the wounds
- Overall fatigue and nausea
- Skin discoloration
Notably, some problems, such as high fever, shortness of breath, constant and severe pain at the incision site, unusual swelling, red skin, and abnormal discharges, can be signs of severe infection and should be treated immediately. So, if you have these problems, contact your doctor immediately.
Is Breast Reduction Surgery Painful?
During recovery time, breast reduction surgery can cause some pain and discomfort. The intensity of pain, however, can differ from person to person. Typically, the surgeon may prescribe pain medication to help control any discomfort. Following the surgeon's post-operative instructions is critical to reduce pain and enhance recovery.
Breast Reduction Surgery Result
After breast reduction surgery, you will experience immediate relief from back and shoulder pain, but you should know that it takes time for the final results to be revealed. It usually takes 8 to 12 weeks for the swelling to go down, so your new breasts will be larger than you expected for the first three months. In addition, breasts usually grow and heal at different speeds, so you probably experience some breast asymmetry during the first few months after the surgery.
It is worth mentioning that the results of breast reduction surgery are lifelong, but aging, change in weight, hormonal imbalance, pregnancy, and breastfeeding can change the shape, size, and appearance of your breasts. So, you must maintain a stable BMI and avoid having children after the surgery.
Life After Reduction Mammaplasty
Life after reduction mammaplasty is much easier as it reduces your pain and discomfort and enhances your appearance to a great extent. After this operation, you can fit into any clothing, engage in various physical activities, and be intimate with your partner with high confidence. Also, you will lose some pounds after the mammaplasty reduction as you can exercise more and better. Although this surgery has a slightly hard recovery, 95% of people who undergo it are highly satisfied with its results.
Male Breast Reduction
Male breast reduction, or gynecomastia surgery, is an effective treatment for overly large breasts in men. This operation removes excess fats, problematic tissues and glands, and saggy skin from the chest to make it look firmer and tighter.
It should be noted that male breast reduction is suitable for the ones whose breasts have enlarged due to changes in male hormones, taking certain medications, and genetic defects. Therefore, gynecomastia surgery is not a proper treatment for those with large breasts because of obesity.
Breast Reduction Surgery in Iran
According to patients who have had breast reduction surgery in Iran, this country is one of the best destinations for those who wish to get breast reduction at high quality and low price. Factors include low price of reduction mammaplasty (surgeon's fee and hospital charge), having skilled and well-versed plastic surgeons, comfortable and neat accommodations, well-equipped medical labs, and low daily expenses -especially in smaller cities such as Yazd and Isfahan- demarcated Iran from other countries. So, if you are searching for the best place to get a breast reduction, Iran is the proper destination.
FAQs about Breast Reduction Surgery
1) How long does breast reduction recovery take?
Breast reduction recovery time depends on the extent and type of surgery and how fast your wounds heal. In general, full recovery from this operation takes 12 weeks.
2) When can I get back to work after breast reduction surgery?
Usually, the patients can have a short walk and do light daily activities a few days after the operation, but they cannot return to work for two weeks.
3) What is the best age for breast reduction surgery?
There is no best age for breast reduction surgery. Once your breasts are fully grown, you can get this operation. However, most surgeons recommend that patients wait until they are 18 to get a reduced mammoplasty.
4) What can go wrong with breast reduction surgery?
Just like other cosmetic operations, breast reduction can sometimes go wrong. Loss of sensation in the areola, uneven shape of the breasts, destruction of milk ducts, scarring, and skin discoloration are the most serious complications of breast reduction surgery.