Plastic Surgery Team Specializes in Breast Reduction Procedures

Breast reduction is a procedure to reduce the size as well as lift and shape heavy, sagging breasts. Breast reduction is usually performed for physical relief of symptoms rather than simply for cosmetic improvement. However, the appearance of the breasts generally improves significantly after breast reduction.

Most women who seek breast reduction surgery may be bothered by symptoms such as back and neck pain, shoulder grooving, poor posture, rashes underneath the breast and limitations in activities. Unusually large breasts can also make women feel very self-conscious. In many cases breast reduction is covered by health insurance.

Patient History and Examination

At University Hospitals, consultation for a breast reduction consists of a thorough discussion of the patient's symptoms and concerns. Our doctors perform an examination and evaluation of the patient’s breasts. In addition, photographs are taken. These may be needed to obtain insurance approval and surgical planning.

The available surgical options and a description of the procedure are reviewed. An idea of the results, including the limitations and risks of surgery, is discussed. The doctor will also review many variables that may affect the procedure, such as age, the size and shape of the breasts, and the condition of the skin.

Some insurance companies and managed care plans will pay for breast reduction if it is found to be medically necessary. Patients will need to discuss eligibility requirements for breast reduction surgery with their insurance plan. Our office will assist patients in filing for a preauthorization.

Performing Breast Reduction

Breast reduction surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure at one of the UH surgical facilities. It generally takes about three to four hours.

Breast reduction is performed under general anesthesia. There is some blood loss associated with the procedure; however, patients rarely require a transfusion.

The breast reduction surgery involves the removal of fat, glandular tissue, and skin from the breast, making them smaller, lighter and firmer. The areola is also usually made smaller, and the nipple and areola are lifted to a higher more youthful position. In most cases dissolvable sutures are used with breast reduction. Surgical drains are used rarely for this procedure and will be removed within a week. Breast reduction surgery creates noticeable, permanent scars, although they are covered by a bra or bathing suit.

Side Effects and Recovery

After surgery, the patient is wrapped in an elastic bandage over the gauze dressings or placed in a supportive surgical bra. The bandages are removed a day or two after surgery.

The patient will wear a surgical bra for several weeks, until the bruising and swelling subside. Although most of the swelling disappears in the first few weeks, it may take up to four months before the breasts settle into their new shape. It may also take up to a year for all of the scars to mature and fade.

Most women are able to return to work after two to three weeks following surgery, depending on the physical demands of their occupation. Patients should avoid strenuous activities and exercise for about four weeks after surgery.

Women older than 40 years of age should have had a mammogram within a year prior to the procedure and continue the routine screening after surgery.

Results of Breast Reduction

When fully healed, the breasts will appear smaller and lifted. The breasts are still responsive to hormonal changes. If patients gain significant amount of weight after breast reduction their breast size may increase.

Improvement in physical symptoms as a result of breast reduction occurs very quickly. The natural processes responsible for sagging of the breasts will continue to affect the breast even after breast reduction.