Generally if you ask two plastic surgeons their opinion on any topic you will get at least three opinions. However If you were to ask any number of plastic surgeons which surgery is the most gratifying to perform — professionally and emotionally — chances are, all would say breast reduction surgery. Patients who have had the surgery would agree. Breast reduction surgeries consistently ranks highly in patient satisfaction studies, or on review sites.
Women with large breasts feel they’ve been kind of held hostage by the size of their breasts, which really limits them from doing a lot of activities.
Unlike the many other plastic surgeries, women who undergo breast reduction surgery are typically seeking relief from physical symptoms caused by the excessive weight of large breasts, rather than those who want a cosmetic tuck here or a tweak there.
Women with heavy breasts regularly and consistently report shoulder, neck, and back pain. They also have shoulder grooving, where their bra straps literally dig into the skin, and they have permanent marks over their shoulder just because the weight the bra is carrying on a day-to-day basis is so significant.
What does breast reduction surgery consist of?
Breast reduction surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia and typically takes under three hours, depending on the breast size. Most patients will stay in hospital over night and may require a drain tube to remove excess fluid. During the surgery, excess breast tissue is removed to achieve the patient’s desired breast size, which is discussed at the pre surgery consultation.
Immediately after the surgery, patients are dressed in a post operative surgical bra to support the breasts and take some of the weight off of the incisions, and while they aren’t completely necessary to ensure faster or perfect healing, most people feel more comfortable when they have the extra support from the bra.
We recommend that women wear the surgical bra for up to six weeks post-surgery, but after three to four weeks they can substitute the surgical bra for an active wear bra. The golden rule is no bras with an underwire for six weeks because the underwire rubs on the incision.
Oftentimes for patients with large breasts, the nipples are pointing downward, or they’re below the breast fold, as is most of the breast tissue. So as part of the surgery, the position of the nipple will be lifted and the breast mound modified into a more perky and youthful shape. So you’re not only removing excess skin and breast tissue, but you’re also repositioning the nipples and reshaping the breast mount.
What are the risks?
Breast reductions are generally straight forward with few serious on long term risks. Although all surgery does carry some risk, which are important to discuss:
One of the more common, but very fixable complications, is having bleeding in that first 12 to 24 hours after surgery, causing a hematoma. Internally there is a lot of reshaping of breast tissue going on. You’re really changing the whole way that your nipple gets its blood supply. During the operation you are cutting through a lot of blood vessels, which are all sealed at the time of surgery, however, it occasionally happens that a little blood vessel that seemed fine when you closed, starts bleeding when your blood pressure goes up. It will present with a sudden swelling and pain, and usually requires going back to surgery to stop the bleeding vessel. After that your recovery will be back on track with no long term issues.
Loss of Sensation
A less frequent issue is the loss of sensation in the nipple. The exact nature of the change can vary from loss of touch sensation to loss of erotic sensation. Whilst this is temporary in most cases, it can take a year or two for recovery and in a certain percentage of cases the loss of sensation will be permanent.
A common myth with breast reduction surgeries is the inability for patients to breastfeed post-surgery. However, most studies suggest, most patients will be able to breastfeed. It is possible however that women will make less milk and need to supplement their baby’s diet with formula. You are after all removing some of the glands in the breast that make the milk.
With all breast surgeries, slight asymmetry is the rule and not the exception. A common phrased used when discussing any breast surgery with women is to think of your breasts as sisters, not twins. So they look really similar, but they’re not exactly alike. After you have a surgery, it’s pretty common for women to over analyse and look at everything, so you look and look and you will notice little asymmetries. But almost everyone has asymmetry, even before surgery.
Breast reduction patients can expect a circular scar around the areola as well as an anchor-like shape with a straight line extending from the bottom of the nipple down to underneath the breast.
There are three things that determine the quality of scarring: 1. How well your surgeon closes the incision. There are definitely technical aspects to improve that 2. How you heal genetically – neither the surgeon or the patient can control that. 3. How you look after your scar after surgery. Both directly with taping and laser and indirectly with taking things quietly, wearing your bra for support, eating a healthy diet and avoiding things known to be bad for healing such as smoking. That said, most patients do have concerns about the breast scarring. There are two reasons for that. Firstly breast scars are generally excellent and secondly the scars are outweighed by the benefits of the surgery.
What are the benefits?
Breast reduction is really a two-for-one surgery. It addresses both functional and aesthetic concerns. Patients’ symptom relief is almost immediate, even with the expected post-op soreness and recovery, but the pain associated with the excess weight is almost gone right away.
Often these patients need to double bra or cannot even buy regular bras to support their heavy breasts.
The burden of heavy breasts can take its toll not only physically but also emotionally, with many women feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable with their breasts. After the surgery it is literally like having a weight lifted from your shoulders, both physically and emotionally.
What is the recovery time?
You will be in hospital for one night. Your wounds will be healed by 2 weeks and most of the swelling will dissipate by six weeks. Although the final result may not be apparent for six or even 12 months, once the final shape has settled and the scars matured.
Usually by one to two weeks you will be back to most activities and back to full exercise and swimming by six weeks.
How much does it cost?
The price of breast reduction surgery at Re is $14,990. Some of this is covered by medicare and health insurance. The fee includes your surgical fee, anaesthetist, the hospital as well as all of your post surgical care, garments and laser treatment for your scars.