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Patients who undergo breast reduction surgery are often seeking relief from the physical symptoms caused by the excessive weight of their large breasts. However, the benefits of a breast reduction are NOT limited to relief from neck and back pain. They also include a significant improvement in breast size and shape, as breasts are always “lifted” during the procedure. Smaller, more perky breasts lead to improved body proportion and can make it easier to find clothing that fits. Breast reductions typically have high patient satisfaction rates because they address both functional (symptoms of heavy breasts) and esthetic concerns.

If you are considering having a breast reduction, the following information should help you come to a well-informed, safe decision. We developed this page to answer the most common questions we encounter from patients and to provide you with the latest, up to date information on breast reduction. We have addressed the following questions:

Are you a candidate for a breast reduction?
How is a breast reduction performed?
Does a breast reduction improve the shape of my breasts?
Do I need to be put to sleep for the operation?
What happens in the days following a breast reduction (How long is the recovery time)?
Do you perform liposuction of the breasts during a breast reduction?
Does a breast reduction affect my ability to breast-feed?
What are the potential risks and complications?

Are you a good candidate for a breast reduction?

Breasts that are too large in proportion to your body frame
Heavy, sagging breasts with nipples that are too low or point downwards
One breast is larger than the other
Back, neck and 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
You are self-conscious about the size or appearance of your breasts

How is a breast reduction performed?

A breast reduction surgery has 2 important components: Reducing the size/weight of your breasts AND the cosmetic aspect, which involves ‘lifting” your breasts to achieve a nice, perky shape. The procedure takes about 1 ½ hours to complete. During the operation, we achieve the following:

Remove a portion of the gland and fatty tissue within the breasts to reduce their size and weight
Re-shape the glandular/fatty tissue to create rounder, perkier breasts
Reduce the diameter of the areolae so they are in proportion with the reduced breasts
Reposition nipples/areolae that are too low
Remove and re-drape the excess, sagging skin, leading to tighter skin and a perkier appearance
Improve asymmetries in size and shape

After achieving a nice, symmetric result, we close the incisions with absorbable stitches that are placed deep to the skin, leaving only a fine line at the incision sites. At the end of the operation, we place a gauze dressing over our patients’ breasts. They are then awakened from anesthesia and brought to the recovery room, where they are cared for by a dedicated recovery room nurse. When patients are comfortable and ready, they are brought home by a friend or family member. We provide everyone with antibiotics and pain medication for a few days.

Does a breast reduction improve the shape of my breasts?

Yes. An important component of a breast reduction is the “lifting” that is performed. The breast is not only reduced in size but also completely re-shaped and the sagging skin is removed. The nipple is also placed higher, in a more esthetically pleasing position. The final result is smaller breasts with a nicer shape and better nipple position. A breast reduction is as much a cosmetic procedure as it is a functional operation!

Do I need to be put to sleep for the operation?

We perform all breast reductions under general anesthesia, meaning patients are completely asleep during the operation. This provides the safest and most comfortable environment for our patients.

What happens in the days following a breast reduction (How long is the recovery time)?

For the first 48 hours, patients are expected to keep the gauze dressing over their breasts dry, but can sponge bathe liberally. The first post-operative appointment is typically 48-72 hours after the surgery. Patients are instructed to bring a comfortable bra (with no underwire) or camisole, which they will wear after the dressing is removed. A normal, daily shower is then recommended. As for restrictions, patients can begin their daily lives as soon as they are comfortable, provided they avoid exercise, strenuous activity, or heavy lifting. Most patients will schedule 10 days to 2 weeks away from work for recovery. All restrictions are lifted four weeks after the date of surgery, at which point patients no longer have limitations. Follow-up appointments are scheduled at two days, two weeks, three months, and the final appointment one year after the surgery.

Do you perform liposuction of the breasts during a breast reduction?

Liposuction is a technique we often use to improve breast shape during breast reductions. It is most useful to shape/contour the lateral aspect of the breasts and the adjacent “rolls” of fat often encountered in large-breasted women.

Does breast reduction affect my ability to breast-feed?

Breast reduction can lead to a diminished capacity to produce breast milk. It makes sense that a breast which has had some of the gland removed (which is necessary during a breast reduction) may produce less milk. The studies that have been done regarding this topic have yielded variable results. In summary, 1/3 of patients who have had a breast reduction will not be able to breast-feed, another 1/3 will have to supplement breast feeding with bottled milk, and 1/3 will be able to breast feed without any issues.

What are the potential risks and complications?

Breast reduction is a safe, predictable procedure. As with any surgery, there are associated risks and complications. These include infection, bleeding, seroma, asymmetry, decreased nipple/skin sensation, fat/nipple necrosis, contour irregularities, and abnormal scarring. While complications are relatively uncommon, they should all be discussed with your surgeon during the consultation process.

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