Reduction mammoplasty or breast reduction surgery is a medical procedure that decreases breast size in patients. The procedure is mainly performed to help patients with disproportionately large breasts to help alleviate problems such as pain in their shoulders, necks, and backs, along with other, often concerning physical symptoms. By removing excess tissue and reshaping the breast contour, patients often find relief from chronic pain, improved posture, and a newfound sense of confidence. Beyond the physical benefits, breast reduction surgery can have a profound impact on self-esteem and body image, enabling individuals to lead more active, fulfilling lives. Candidates for the procedure can be both women and men. In the latter case, men usually undergo breast reduction surgery to treat gynecomastia, a condition in which the male breasts enlarge for a variety of reasons.
Signs suggesting you may need breast reduction surgery:
- Chronic skin irritation and rashes under the breasts
- Chronic neck, back, and shoulder pain
- Nerve pain
- Deep shoulder grooves from bra straps
- Problems when trying to fit bras and clothing
- Self-image problems due to large breast size
- Not being able to be a part of certain activities
About the Procedure
Breast reduction surgery can be conducted in an outpatient setting or might necessitate an overnight stay in the hospital, depending on your circumstances. In either scenario, the procedure will be performed under general anesthesia. The surgical process typically lasts between three to five hours. The surgeon begins by making an incision encircling the nipple and extending downward on the breast, resembling a keyhole pattern. Excess skin, tissue, and fat are carefully eliminated, and the nipple is repositioned before the incisions are meticulously closed. In some cases, drainage tubes may be used. The surgeon then sutures the incision and applies the dressing. If deemed necessary, a surgical bra might be recommended by your surgeon.
After the surgery, patients typically recover in a monitored setting before being discharged. It is essential to follow post-operative care instructions provided by the surgeon, which may include wearing a supportive bra, avoiding strenuous activities, and attending follow-up appointments. While initial discomfort and swelling are common, they gradually subside. In the recovery phase of breast reduction surgery, patients can expect to take one to two weeks off from their usual school or work commitments. Surgeons will provide specific instructions for follow-up appointments, during which bandages and sutures will be addressed.
To minimize the risk of incision bleeding, it’s strongly advised that patients refrain from lifting heavy objects for at least a month. This precaution not only promotes a smoother recovery but also accelerates the overall healing process. Additionally, some patients may notice changes in nipple sensation, which is a common and temporary side effect.
While complications are rare, in certain cases, inadequate healing may necessitate a skin graft. It’s crucial for patients to stay vigilant and promptly reach out to their healthcare provider if they experience any of the following:
- Discharge from the incision site
- Unusual enlargement, pressure, or pain in one or both breasts
- Premature detachment or release of sutures before their scheduled removal
Insurance: Is Breast Reduction Covered?
Whether the surgery will be covered by the insurance carrier will depend on various factors, but in many cases, the surgery will be covered. This is especially true if the surgery is deemed a medical necessity. Still, in these cases, the surgeon will most likely need to take photos of the breast, measure the patient’s weight and height, and write down the physical symptoms caused by the large breasts. After that, the insurance carrier will consider the amount of breast tissue to be removed. Patients are encouraged to begin timely communications with their carrier to understand the exact expenses covered by the insurance, beginning from lab costs, through anesthesiologists and so on.
Choosing to undergo breast reduction surgery holds the promise of relieving long-standing back, shoulder, and neck discomfort, while also boosting your self-esteem and body image. While the actual outpatient procedure only takes a few hours, it may be several weeks before engaging in physically demanding activities becomes feasible. Prior to making any decisions, it’s essential to have a thorough discussion with your Physician about both the benefits and potential complications of the surgery.