Female Breast Reduction
Breast reduction is a surgical procedure to reduce and reshape large, pendulous breasts. It is usually performed on women for whom the condition causes physical health problems, including chronic back and neck pain, poor posture, skin irritation, scarring in the shoulders and difficulty breathing. The procedure can also improve the ability to exercise which, in turn, often leads to a lifetime of better weight management.
Breast reduction can be performed at any time once the breasts have stopped developing. However, young girls with very large breasts may seek the operation even before breast growth is complete (possibly necessitating a second procedure later) to alleviate severe emotional distress. Women whose breasts contain more fatty than glandular tissue, who have good skin tone and nipple placement, and who seek only a moderate reduction may be better candidates for liposuction.
Breast reduction usually takes 3 to 4 hours and is performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia. For each breast, an anchor-shaped incision is made from above the nipple downward to the crease line. A second incision is made around the areola. Usually the nipple is left attached to its blood supply, but detachment and grafting may be necessary. Another incision is made along the crease of each breast, through which excess tissue, fat and skin are removed. Thin drain tubes are inserted for several days to remove any excess fluid. The skin formerly above each nipple is then brought down and together to reshape the breasts.
Surface sutures and staples used to close the incisions come out in the course of three weeks following surgery. A surgical bra must be worn during this time and for several weeks afterward to give support and minimize bruising and swelling. The breasts may feel sore and achy, and you may experience some loss of feeling in the nipples and breast skin. Typically, discomfort is minimal and easily controlled with cold compresses and pain medication. Whereas light activity often may be resumed within 7 to 10 days of surgery, strenuous activity involving moderate to heavy lifting or bending should be avoided for at least two weeks.