Breast reduction is a very common form of cosmetic surgery, and women will undergo it for a plethora of different reasons.
On this page, we want to introduce you to everything that you really need to know about the procedure. This information is important for those that may be going through the process themselves or, perhaps, they have a loved one that is planning to undergo the procedure.
What is Breast Reduction?
Breast reduction is pretty much what it says on the tin. When somebody has their breasts reduced, soft tissue is removed from the breasts to make them smaller.
There are several reasons why people may undergo this type of surgery. For the vast majority of people, breast reduction is about reducing stress on the body. As some women may know, large breasts that are not in proportion to the rest of the body can put a huge amount of stress on somebody’s back. It is not uncommon for women with larger breasts to suffer from some degree of back pain. A breast reduction will help to combat this.
For some women, breast reduction may be a procedure for cosmetic reasons. For example, larger breasts tend to be ‘saggy’ looking, and some women want to stop that from happening.
No matter the reasons for breast reduction, the way in which the procedure works won’t change all that much.
Breast Reduction Procedure – How It Works?
We are going to go into a bit more depth on the process in the following sections. However, let’s give you a very quick overview of how the process works.
Essentially, the doctor will make an incision in the breast. They will then remove any fat or breast tissue to help get the breast down to the desired size. They will then remove excess skin before stitching everything back up. Honestly, it is a rather simple process.
Before the procedure begins, the doctor will consult with you. The doctor will also draw on various parts of your breast. This isn’t anything that you need to worry about. The reason why they are drawing on your breasts is for them to know where to make the incisions and what part of the tissue needs to be removed. They may also ask you if you have any final concerns about the surgery. They will be happy to answer any questions that you have before this point.
When you undergo breast reduction, you will be put under general anesthetic. This means that you will be asleep for the process. The anesthesiologist will give you the anesthetic shortly before the surgery. They will also be there throughout the surgery to ensure that you continue to stay asleep throughout the process.
During the procedure, the doctor will need to make an incision in your breast. The location will be dependent on the cosmetic surgeon, as well as the amount of breast tissue and fat that they need to be removed. The incision will either be made down the side of the breast or just to the side of the areola.
Once the incision has been made, the surgeon will start to remove breast tissue and fat. Exactly what they remove and where they remove it from will be dependent on the current size of the breast. This is why the doctor drew all of those lines on you just before you went into the surgery. This is part of their planning!
In most cases, the areola and the nipple will remain on the breast. Once the breast size has been reduced, the doctor will be able to move this up into a new position. It will stay attached to the nervous system. In the case of very large breasts, the areola may be disconnected from the breast and then grafted into a new place. However, this is exceedingly rare.
Once the excess fat and tissue has been removed, the doctor will get to work on removing excess skin. This is to ensure that your breasts do not have loose skin at the end of the procedure.
Finally, the doctor will lift the breast up to give them that natural look, and then the surgery will be complete. You will be taken to the recovery room.
All in all, you can expect breast reduction surgery to take a couple of hours.
When the procedure has been completed, you will be moved to a recovery room. Because you will be under general anesthetic at this point, you will still be asleep when you are moved. So, you won’t actually know! After a short while, you will begin to wake up. However, you will likely still feel quite groggy.
In the vast majority of cases, you won’t be staying in the hospital overnight. Most cosmetic surgeons regard breast reduction surgery as an ‘outpatient’ procedure. This means that once you have recovered for a short while in the recovery room, you will be allowed to leave and go home. The whole reason why you are in that recovery room is so that the medical staff can make sure that you are not suffering from any adverse effects from any medication that you have been given.
By the time that you are released from the cosmetic surgeon, you will still be groggy. So, you shouldn’t plan on driving yourself home. There will need to be somebody that is willing to escort you back home. Once you get home, you will likely need to stay in bed for around 24-hours.
Depending on the cosmetic surgeon, you may be provided with a special bra that you will need to wear for at least a few days. This bra will speed up the healing of the breast. It will also help to reduce the amount of pain that you are suffering from.
How Long Does it Take to Recover from Breast Reduction Surgery?
It depends on the type of surgery that was carried out, as well as the amount of tissue that had to be removed. However, most people suggest that it will take between two weeks and six weeks to fully recover from breast reduction surgery.
Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean that you are going to be confined to a bed for the whole time. For around a week after the surgery, you won’t actually be able to do much. You will be able to walk around a bit, but most people probably won’t be able to work while they are recovering from the procedure. It would put too much stress on the area. This can lead to the wound opening up a little bit.
Breast Reduction Surgery Recovery Tips
When your surgery is complete, your doctor will give you (or at least prescribe you):
- Pain medication
It is important that you take these as directed in order to ensure that you recover quickly. Depending on the pain medication that you have been prescribed, you may be able to take additional pain medication on top of that. However, make sure that you consult with your doctor first.
During the first week after the surgery, you shouldn’t be doing anything too strenuous. In fact, most people shouldn’t really be going to work at this time. You shouldn’t be spending your days laying down, though. This will put increased pressure on the breasts. Have a walk around and sit a little bit.
You will likely be given a supportive bra by the doctor, so make sure that you wear this. If you have not been given a supportive bra, then buy one. The healing process will be sped up if the breasts are well-supported. It will be a lot less painful too.
Other than this, make sure that you wear loose-fitting clothing. You really do not want there to be any pressure on the breasts, other than the compression bra that the cosmetic surgeon gave you.
Honestly, the results of breast reduction surgery tend to be pretty good. Other than a small amount of scarring, which will often be in a hidden location, your breasts will look perfectly natural. Nobody will really be able to tell that you have undergone breast reduction at any point. Well, unless they saw your breasts beforehand. It would be pretty obvious in that case.
Breast Reduction Surgery Costs
In the United States, the average cost of breast reduction surgery is around $6,000. Obviously, this figure will vary slightly depending on the amount of work that needs to be carried out on the breast.
In countries with socialized healthcare, breast reduction, unlike some other forms of cosmetic surgery, may actually be covered by the system. This is because breast reduction surgery often helps to deal with various health issues, both physical and mental.
Obviously, you will still want to do your research into the costs. If you are planning on undergoing the procedure, then the doctor will be able to walk you through what you will need to be paying for the surgery. It is worth noting that a lot of doctors will require you to pay for the surgery upfront. It is not really something that you will be able to purchase on an installment plan.
Side Effects, Risks, and Complications
To be honest with you, breast reduction surgery isn’t that much of a risky procedure and it is rare that there will be any complications. We know that some of what we talk about in this section can seem ‘scary’ but, we promise you, the risk of the ‘worst’ stuff happening is so minimal that you probably have a bigger chance of winning the lottery than actually experiencing it. We only want to point it out because we are trying to put together the ‘ultimate’ guide to breast reduction surgery.
Complications During Surgery
This is the risk that is so minimal that you won’t have to worry about it at all.
The anesthetic can, sometimes, have an adverse impact on the body. This can cause issues during surgery. Thankfully, the anesthesiologist will know exactly how to deal with the problem, so you do not have to worry. Although, in the rarest of rare cases, the anesthetic can cause death. We literally cannot stress how rare that is. But, it is a risk, and you deserve to know about it.
The reason why you are not supposed to eat for at least 24-hours before surgery is so the anesthesiologist will be able to give you the exact amount of anesthetic that you need. If you eat before surgery (i.e. in that 24-hours prior), then you need to tell the anesthesiologist. In some cases, they may choose not to proceed with the surgery to keep on the ‘safe side’ of things. Yes. you will still need to be paying for the surgery, so make sure that you do not actually eat. Please!
Scarring will be one of the side-effects of surgery. This can’t really be prevented. You are having your skin cut open, after all.
A good cosmetic surgeon will make the incision on the side of the breast. This will ensure that the scars are as hidden as possible.
Over time, as your skin heals, the scarring will start to fade. However, it is never going to disappear completely. There will always be a small amount of scarring left. However, chances are, nobody outside of your partner is ever going to be seeing that scarring. You have to get pretty close to see it, and unless you are giving people regular ‘close-ups’ of your breasts, it isn’t really an issue that you need to worry about.
Lack of Sensation in the Nipples
Because the nipple has to be moved during the process, it may lose some sensitivity for a short while. This is while the nerves around the area start to heal. For the most part, the sensation is going to return to the nipples within a week or two. Therefore, it probably isn’t going to be much of a problem for people.
If your nipples do not regain their sensitivity, then you may want to talk to your doctor so that they can try and work out what is wrong.
In some cases, your nipples may not regain sensitivity, but you will be informed that this will be the case beforehand. This is because if you have incredibly large breasts, the nipple may have to be removed from the breast. This will then be grafted back on as a sort-of ‘skin graft’. It will be completely detached from the nervous system at this point.
Pain in the Breast
There will almost always be a small amount of pain in the breasts after surgery. This will likely take a week or two to clear up. However, some women, particularly those that have had a lot of breast tissue removed, may have a longer recovery process.
The risk of this happening is small. However, you do have to be aware of it. You have just had a large hole cut in the side of your breasts. It will have been stitched up, but there may be a small risk of infection around the area while it heals.
It is important that you keep an eye out for the signs of infection e.g. a change of color around the scarring, or weeping of the wound.
If there is an infection, then it is vital that you talk to a doctor as soon as possible. It needs to be dealt with. Having an infected area where you have just had surgery is never going to be a good sign.
Unable to Breast Feed
It is not recommended that you undergo breast reduction if you are planning on breastfeeding in the future. This is because the process can ‘damage’ the milk ducts. In fact, around 40% of surgeries will result in the milk ducts being damaged. It is going to be dependent on the amount of tissue that is being removed and where it is being removed from.
This is not so much a complication of the procedure, but more just something that you are going to have to deal with. The doctor may be able to warn you beforehand whether their process is likely to damage the milk ducts or not. However, they will never be 100% sure. Basically, you may not be able to breastfeed after you undergo this surgery.
Talk to Your Doctor
Remember, if any of the symptoms seem to be persisting longer than they should, or they are impacting your day-to-day life, then it is vital that you speak to your doctor. Remember, the cosmetic surgery provider is there to see you through the healing process too. If there are any issues, they can help to see what the problem is and, hopefully, rectify them for you.
Breast reduction may not be the most common of the two cosmetic breast procedures. However, it is still one that is undergone on a regular basis for a multitude of reasons. Hopefully, we have answered some of the more burning questions that you have about cosmetic surgery. If you do have any more questions, then feel free to ask your doctor before you undergo the process.
They will be able to walk you through everything that you need to know. After all, they want you to feel completely happy with the process, and they will be more than happy to help put your mind at rest if you have any fears or concerns about what is going to be happening to you.