What is it? Many women are suffering from symptoms related to large heavy breasts. Often, they affect the ability to be able to exercise or perform normal daily activities without pain or exhaustion. Symptoms often include neck and back pain, large grooves on the shoulders from bra straps, and sores or yeast infections beneath or between the breasts. A breast reduction can greatly improve, if not resolve, all of these symptoms and make life better. A breast reduction not only reduces the size and weight of the breast, but also lifts and reshapes it to make it perkier and more proportional to the overall body shape. The degree of reduction is based on the patient’s desires. In order to perform the surgery safely, enough breast tissue has to be retained in order to maintain enough blood supply to the skin and nipple. There are many different patterns used to create incisions and remove breast tissue while still keeping the remaining skin and nipple/areola alive. This somewhat depends on patient and surgeon preference, as well as how large the patient’s breasts are to begin with. More specific details will be discussed for each unique patient at the time of their consultation. The most common incision pattern will leave an anchor shaped scar on the breast, as well as reduce the size of the areola. When breasts are extremely large, the blood supply to the nipple/areola is stretched and the chance of nipple/areola loss is much greater once breast tissue is removed and the nipple/areola is repositioned during surgery. In these situations, a “free nipple graft” is sometime necessary. The need for a free nipple graft is usually determined intraoperatively if it appears that the nipple/areola does not have good blood supply. If this is the case, the nipple/areola is removed, and sewn back on in its new position like a skin graft. By doing so, the tissue stays alive, but no longer has any connection to nerves or ducts. This means that it will not have normal sensation, you will not be able to breast feed, and it will not “harden” or change shape to stimulation. Sometimes it can also have changes in pigment (darker or lighter). This is more common in darker skinned individuals. If you're interested in a breast reduction in Houston, Lift Plastic Surgery is the best choice.
What happens during surgery? Before surgery, your breast reduction doctors will mark your breasts in the pre-operative area to provide a roadmap for the proposed incisions and breast tissue removal. During surgery, skin and breast tissue is removed according to the plan. A rim of areola is also usually removed to make them smaller and more proportional to the breast as they have usually become larger and stretched with time. The nipple and areola remain attached to the remaining breast tissue which is reshaped. The skin is re-draped over the top, and everything is sutured in place with absorbable sutures. Throughout the surgery, we usually sit you up several times to make sure we are happy with the new breast shape and symmetry before finishing the operation. Sometimes there will be a permanent suture at the bottom of the breast that is removed in the office after 3 weeks. Incisions are covered with tape and skin glue and you will be placed in a soft surgical bra. You are able to go home the same day.
What will my recovery be like? Post-operatively, you will have some mild discomfort. You will be able to shower the day after surgery. You must wear a soft supportive bra with no underwire at all times other than showering for the first month. After four weeks you can change to a normal bra as long as your incisions are well healed. No vigorous exercise or activity is allowed for the first 4-6 weeks after surgery and you should limit lifting your arms above your head. Expect that your breasts will be swollen, and this will gradually decrease over the next few months and the shape of the breasts will settle. Once your incisions are healed we will discuss scar management tips.
What are the risks? After breast reduction, you may have numbness or changes in sensation of the breast which may or may not be permanent. Some women find that their breasts are actually more sensitive after surgery because the nerves are no longer being stretched. Cutting through the breast tissue may also affect your future ability to breast feed. It is not infrequent that women will have some issues with healing after breast reduction because the tissues have been under so much stretch and strain. Typically, this manifests as open wounds along the incision lines. These are usually managed quite easily with dressing changes, and generally heal on their own without requiring further surgery.
Will insurance cover my procedure? Insurance coverage of breast reductions depends on your particular policy. In general, it must meet certain criteria (such as causing symptoms like sores or infections, and generally at least 500 g must be removed). We will work with you and your insurance company to make sure that, if at all possible, your procedure is covered.