Breast Reduction Frequently Asked Questions
- Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
- Where and how will you perform my procedure?
- What surgical technique is recommended for me?
- How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
- What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure and how are they handled?
1. Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
You may be a good candidate for breast reduction if you have one or more of the following conditions:
- Breasts that are too large in proportion to your body frame.
- Heavy, pendulous breasts with nipples and areolas that point downward.
- One breast is much larger than the other.
- Back, neck or shoulder pain caused by the weight of your breasts.
- Skin irritation beneath your breasts.
- Indentations in your shoulders from tight bra straps.
- Restriction of physical activity due to the size and weight of your breasts bra straps.
- Dissatisfaction or self-consciousness about the largeness of your breasts.
Breast reduction can be performed at any age, but we usually recommend waiting until breast development has stopped. Childbirth and breast-feeding may have significant and unpredictable effects on the size and shape of your breasts. Nevertheless, many women decide to undergo breast reduction before having children and feel that they can address any subsequent changes later. If you plan to breastfeed in the future, you should discuss this during the consultation.
2. Where and how will you perform my procedure?
Here is a description of the different incision patterns and techniques that Dr. Hsu will choose from:
- The "anchor" incision, made around the perimeter of the areola, vertically down from the areola to the breast crease and horizontally along the breast crease, produces the most scarring. It is for women with big pendulous breasts with severe degree of sagging who will not be helped sufficiently by less invasive techniques. This incision, which is the oldest technique, is often used for a breast reduction in conjunction with a breast lift.
- The "lollipop" incision, also known as a "keyhole" incision, made around the perimeter of the areola and vertically down from the areola to the breast crease, is suitable for women with a moderate degree of excess breast tissue and sagging.
Your breast reduction surgery may be performed in a hospital or surgicenter. Usually, a general anesthetic is administered, so that you will be asleep throughout the procedure. After your breast reduction procedure is completed, dressings will be applied to the incisions and you will be taken into a recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored. You’ll need to wear a support bra for a couple of weeks to minimize swelling and support your breasts as they heal.
If necessary, a small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect after surgery. You will be given specific instructions that may include: how to care for your breasts following surgery, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection, and when to come in for your follow up appointments.
3. What surgical technique is recommended for me?
Individual factors and personal preferences will determine the specific technique selected to reduce the size of your breasts. The most common method of reducing the breasts involves three incisions. One incision is made around the areola. Another runs vertically from the bottom edge of the areola to the crease underneath the breast. The third incision follows the natural curve of the breast crease. After the excess breast tissue, fat and skin have been removed, the nipple and areola are shifted to a higher position. The areola, which in large breasts usually has been stretched, also is reduced in size. Skin that was formerly located above the nipple is brought down and together to reshape the breast. Usually, the nipples and areolas remain attached to underlying mounds of tissue, and this allows for the preservation of sensation. The ability to breastfeed may also be preserved by this method, although this cannot be guaranteed.
4. How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
After breast reduction surgery, it is often possible to return to work within just a couple of weeks, depending on your job. In many instances, you can resume most of your normal activities, including some form of mild exercise, after several weeks. You may continue to experience some mild, periodic discomfort during this time, but such feelings are normal. Severe pain should be reported to us immediately. Any sexual activity should be avoided for a minimum of one week. After that, care must be taken to be extremely gentle with your breasts for at least the next six weeks.
5. What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure and how are they handled?
Fortunately, significant complications from breast reduction are infrequent. Every year, many thousands of women undergo successful breast reduction surgery, experience no major problems and are pleased with the results. Anyone considering surgery, however, should be aware of both the benefits and the risks. The subject of risks and potential complications of surgery is best discussed on a personal basis between you and Dr. Hsu during the consultation.
Some of the potential complications that may be discussed with you include bleeding, infection and reactions to anesthesia. Following reduction, sometimes the breasts may not be perfectly symmetrical or the nipple height may vary slightly. If desired, minor adjustments can be made at a later time. Permanent loss of sensation in the nipples or breasts may occur rarely. Revisionary surgery is sometimes helpful in certain instances where incisions may have healed poorly. In the unlikely event of injury to or loss of the nipple and areola, they usually can be satisfactorily reconstructed using skin grafts. You can help to lessen certain risks by following Dr. Hsu's advice and instructions both before and after surgery.