Heavy breasts cause pain in the back, neck, and shoulders. Rashes frequently develop beneath the breasts, as do indentations in the shoulders from bra straps. Large breasts may attract unwanted attention. Sometimes this results in low self-esteem. Breast reduction surgery can help a woman regain her self-confidence and positive self-image while creating shapely and proportional breasts. After breast reduction surgery many women find they are able to do physical activities that had been too painful to do before. Two of Dr. Kunkel’s patients ran in the Boston Marathon after their breast reductions!
The initial office visit takes about 1½ hours; it’s not rushed. During that time Dr. Kunkel and his staff listen to you as you talk about your concerns and what you hope to achieve. Your breasts are evaluated and a thorough discussion takes place to help you understand the things you need to know. There are a few surgical options and these are discussed with you.
Dr. Kunkel has also written a Breast Reduction Surgery Booklet. It contains before and after photographs and other helpful information. We suggest that a woman who is planning to visit the office read it before she comes in to the office. Some women find it convenient to upload the booklet to their phone or computer, or to print for easy reference.
breast reduction Techniques
There are different ways to do breast reduction surgery. The size and shape of a woman’s breasts help determine what type of procedure may work best for her. The options of breast reduction surgery technique include:
- “Wise pattern” Breast Reduction – Also called an inverted-T pattern or anchor pattern, this technique may be the best choice for women who have very large breasts. In a Wise pattern breast reduction the scars go around the areola, down the lower central part of the breast, and along the crease beneath the breast. Dr. Kunkel finds he can remove more tissue using this technique than the other types of breast reduction.
- Vertical Incision Breast Reduction – Also known as a “short scar” or “lollipop” breast reduction, this technique results in scars that go around the areola and down the lower central part of the breasts but not along the crease below the breast. A vertical incision breast reduction may work well for a woman who has moderately large breasts.
- Liposuction Breast Reduction – Liposuction alone may be a good option for a woman who has large breasts and good skin tone. Liposuction removes fat but does not remove thick glandular tissue. The best candidates for liposuction breast reduction are women whose breasts have more fatty tissue than glandular tissue. Women in their 50’s and 60’s are more likely to have these types of breasts than women in their 30’s. However, women in their 50’s may not have good breast skin tone. Dr. Kunkel uses liposuction breast reduction technique less commonly than the other techniques. Liposuction breast reduction removes some of the weight of the breasts but does not result in a lifted or tightened appearance.
Where is breast reduction surgery performed?
Dr. Kunkel performs breast reduction surgery in a hospital or an outpatient surgery center. The woman is put to sleep under the direction of an anesthesiologist (general anesthesia). The procedure usually takes three to four hours. Typically the patient goes home the same day. Some women combine breast reduction with other body contour procedures like a tummy tuck. Women who undergo longer combined operations may need to spend one night in the surgical facility.
Recovery after breast reduction surgery
Patients are often surprised at how well they feel after breast reduction surgery. Instead of having a lot of pain in their breasts they frequently notice their back and neck feel better that night. The breasts will be sore, swollen, and bruised for a few weeks. Women should refrain from exercise and strenuous activities for about six weeks. Most women are able to return to work one or two weeks after surgery.
will my insurance pay for a breast reduction?
That’s the big (pun partially intended) question. Each insurance company has its own requirements. They all want documentation of the problems, and they want women to have received non-surgical treatments. If you want your insurance company to pay for your breast reduction you should look at their website and see what they require. Also visit with your primary care doctor. Have your doctor document the problems you’re having and the treatment you receive for them. If those treatments don’t improve your symptoms, then maybe your insurance company will pay for a breast reduction. Listed below are some links to a few of the bigger insurance companies. If you see yours listed, click on it.
These links are provided for reference, but you really need to look at your specific insurance plan. Each insurance company offers different insurance plans. The links above may not tell you about your particular insurance product (PPO, HMO, etc).
breast reduction surgery risks
Breast reduction, like all surgery, has risks. Some of the risks include numbness of the nipples and breast skin, lack of symmetry, widening of the scars, and breasts that are larger or smaller than a woman may have desired. Additional risks include infection, bleeding, problems with healing, firm fatty tissue (“fat necrosis”), and loss of a nipple.