Breast Reduction

Breast reduction, otherwise known as reduction mammaplasty, is a surgical procedure done to remove excess fat, skin and glandular tissue from the breasts. A breast reduction allows for a more proportionate chest in relation to the rest of the body and alleviates the discomfort (back, neck and shoulder pain) associated with extremely large breasts.

Who is a good candidate for breast reduction surgery?

Ideal candidates for breast reduction surgery are plagued by large breasts that limit their physical activity. They also experience back, neck and shoulder pain caused by the weight of their breasts and notice an indentation on their shoulders where their bra straps lie. Furthermore, people with large breasts may notice a skin irritation beneath the breast crease due to the weight of their chest.

In order to undergo any type of surgical procedure you must be in overall good health and a non-smoker. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that the brain takes in and hinders the post-surgery healing process. If you do smoke, your doctor will ask that you quit at least two weeks prior to your breast reduction surgery and continue to cease from smoking as you recover. During your initial consultation with a surgeon, he/she will evaluate your medical history to determine if you are a desirable candidate for a breast reduction procedure.

Finally, you will be a good candidate for this type of surgery if you have realistic expectations. A breast reduction will positively affect your self-esteem but it will not happen overnight. The results of a reduction mammaplasty take time to unfold but once your chest area has fully healed you will reap the benefits of smaller, more proportionate breasts.

What is the recovery process like following a breast reduction?

Prior to your surgery, your will be prescribed painkillers and in some cases, antibiotics. Make sure that you fill these prescriptions before you’re operated on so you can start taking the medication right away. Your surgeon will also give you specific aftercare instructions that detail how to care for the wound area and what type of support bra or compression garment you will need to wear as you heal.

You will need to take at least one week off from work in order to give your chest a chance to adjust to its new, smaller contours. Likewise, you will need to refrain from physical activity for a month following your breast reduction procedure. Any heavy lifting or full body workouts can hinder your body’s natural healing process but you can take walks daily to make sure you’re getting some light exercise.

Swelling and bruising on the chest are normal and will subside within a few weeks. You will have trouble lifting your arms above your head in the first few days following your surgery and activities like hair washing may prove troublesome. So, it’s best to avoid washing your hair on your own and ask a loved one or friend to do it for you. You will also need to sleep on your back as your recover to avoid putting any undue pressure on your chest.

What to look for in this type of surgeon

There is only one recognized professional body of plastic surgeons in Canada, the Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (CSAPS). Any surgeon you choose to have perform your breast reductions must be recognized by CSAPS and be certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Besides being board-certified and have ample experience you must feel comfortable with your surgeon. You should feel as though your surgeon is not only competent but is also trustworthy.

Here are three questions to ask potential surgeons to see if they’re capable of performing your breast reduction surgery:

1. Where did you accomplish your training?

2. How long have you been in practice?

3. How many breast reduction surgeries have you performed?

What happens during breast reduction surgery?

Breast reduction surgery can take anywhere from 2-6 hours, depending on the size of the breasts and how much reduction is needed. Before the surgery commences you will be given general anesthesia for your comfort. Once you are fully sedated, your surgeon will make an incision (there are two types of incisions, see below for details). Then, excess fat, skin and glandular tissues will be trimmed or removed via liposuction. Skin from the areolas may also need to be excised if it is enlarged.

A breast reduction procedure, as aforementioned, requires an incision. There are two different incision types that work with this surgery. They are:

Anchor: This incision looks like an anchor or an inverted letter “T”. An anchor incision goes around the areola and extends to the breast crease and moves along it horizontally. This is the most common incision type.

Lollipop: This incision resembles a lollipop or keyhole and goes around the areola then vertically down to the breast crease.

The incision your surgeon makes will depend on the amount of tissue, skin and fat that needs to be removed from the breasts and their size. Each incision type will leave a scar but it will fade over time making it virtually invisible.

In rare cases, some women report that they experience reduced nipple sensation after undergoing this type of reduction surgery. However, loss of nipple sensation usually does not occur. Your nipples remain intact during the procedure and it is only the areolas that are affected.

If you’ve been plagued by overly large breasts you probably have trouble performing even the simplest of physical activities. After a breast reduction you will be able to run and jump with ease. You will also notice that you appear slimmer because your chest will now be in proportion to your waist. Back, neck and shoulder pain will disappear and your self-esteem will skyrocket. Any of the emotional baggage and unwanted attention that comes with having overly large breasts will fade and you’ll be able to enjoy life to its fullest.