Breast reduction, or reduction mammoplasty, is a procedure to reduce breast size through the removal of tissues such as fat and skin. Breast reduction may also be combined with a breast lift to counteract the drooping and sagging that often afflicts large breasts.
Breast reduction can be performed on both women and men who wish that their breasts were smaller. Patients are left with smaller, lighter, and in many cases firmer breasts.
Is Breast Reduction Right for Me?
Surgeons most often perform reduction mammoplasty on women, although men with gynecomastia (excessive breast development) are also candidates for this procedure. Women who choose breast reduction tend to have breasts that are large and pendulous. While this procedure can be performed for purely cosmetic reasons, many women with large breasts complain of pain in the neck, shoulders, and back due to the weight of the breasts. Patients who undergo breast reduction do so because they feel that their breasts are too large for their body size.
Those who undergo breast reduction must have fully developed breasts and ideally should not plan to breastfeed in the future. If you think breast reduction might be right for you, ask your surgeon to see breast reduction before and after photos. Plastic surgery is as much an art as a science; you should be able to trust the surgeon to sculpt your breasts into an aesthetically pleasing end result.
Before and After Photos
Reduction mammaplasty procedures are performed with general anesthesia and take between three and five hours from start to finish. There are several incision methods that may be chosen depending on the amount of reduction desired, the composition of breast tissue, and personal preferences.
These options include the following:
- Pedicle method (incision is a circle around the nipple and areola)
- Vertical or LeJour incision (around the areola, continuing down the breast crease vertically)
- Anchor method (around the areola, then down vertically, and horizontally underneath the breast fold)
After the incision, the surgeon removes excess glandular tissue, fat, and skin. While most surgeons use traditional surgical techniques for this process, liposuction may also be an option. The tissues remaining in the breast may be lifted or sculpted to provide an optimum contour. Finally, the nipple is repositioned on the chest in a natural position, and the incisions are closed with sutures.
Recovery After Breast Reduction
After breast reduction surgery, patients must wear a surgical bra to provide support for the smaller breasts during the healing process. During the first two weeks, you may experience discomfort, swelling, bruising, tenderness, or changes in nipple sensitivity. Most patients return to work or school in about two weeks, although strenuous activities should be avoided for four to six weeks.