Large breasts frequently cause pain in the back, neck, and shoulders, as well as rashes beneath the breasts, indentations in the shoulders from bra straps, and low self-esteem. A woman may think about reducing the size of her breasts related to these symptoms, or maybe because she is uncomfortable with the unwanted attention created by her large breasts. Breast reduction surgery can help a woman regain her self-confidence and positive self-image, while creating shapely, proportional breasts. After breast reduction surgery many women find they are able to participate in physical activities that may have been just too painful to do before, like running or soccer. Breast reduction surgery, also known as reduction mammaplasty, is usually done to provide relief from these types of symptoms and issues.
The initial consultation with Dr. Kunkel takes about an hour. 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, then a thorough discussion takes place to help you understand the things you need to kow about breast reduction surgery. There are a few options for techniques that may be used to reduce your breast size and these, as well as potential advantages and disadvantages of the options, are discussed during your visit. Dr. Kunkel and the staff also go over what to anticipate in the time around the surgery. Dr. Kunkel performs breast reduction surgery in a hospital or outpatient surgery center. Different insurance companies often require one facility or another to be used, and Dr. Kunkel’s staff help you in planning where the operation will take place. The procedure usually takes three to four hours and is performed with the woman under general anesthesia. Typically the patient goes home on the afternoon of the surgery. An overnight stay is not usually required unless the breast reduction is combined with another operation like a tummy tuck.
The size and shape of the breasts, as well as the desired amount of reduction, helps determine which type of incision and surgical technique is best for each woman. The different types of incisions for a breast reduction include:
- Traditional Breast Reduction Surgery – The “traditional” approach to breast reduction surgery is a very effective method for alleviating discomfort caused by large, heavy breasts. The traditional method, also called an inverted-T pattern, anchor pattern, or Wise pattern reduction, is often the best choice for women requiring a large amount of tissue removal. In the traditional breast reduction surgery technique, incisions are made horizontally under the breast in the crease and extend vertically up to and around the nipple. Because traditional breast reduction surgery allows for excess skin removal both vertically and horizontally, it is typically the best method for women with extremely large breasts. This type of reduction may allow Dr. Kunkel to remove more tissue than other methods, maximizing breast reduction results. Although the inverted-T pattern method can be useful in reducing excessively large breasts, it leads to more scarring than other breast reduction surgery techniques. These scars can almost always be hidden by bathing suits and even low cut tops.
- Vertical Incision Breast Reduction Surgery – The vertical incision technique, also known as the short scar breast reduction, may result in less scarring than traditional breast reduction surgery. Vertical incision breast reductions are a popular alternative to the traditional method, especially for women who do not require extensive tissue removal. Incisions using this technique extend around the areola and vertically down to the breast crease, making a “lollipop” pattern. Vertical incision breast reductions eliminate the need for the horizontal incision along the breast crease that is used in traditional breast reduction surgery, resulting in no scarring in the crease beneath the breast. Women with moderately large breasts are the best candidates for vertical incision breast reductions. Vertical incision breast reduction surgery may not be a good choice for women requiring the removal of significant amounts of fat and breast tissue.
- Liposuction Breast Reduction Surgery – This type of breast reduction employs liposuction techniques to reduce the size of the breasts with minimal visible scarring. Because liposuction can only reduce the amount of fatty tissue in the breast, ideal candidates for liposuction breast reduction are women whose breasts have more fatty tissue than glandular tissue. Breast reduction using only liposuction is often not the best option for more slender women with large breasts, women with extensive droopiness of the breasts, or women with excessively large breasts. This technique removes much of the weight of the breast but typically does not result in a lifted or tightened appearance.
Initially after breast reduction surgery the breasts will be sore, swollen, and bruised. Bandages are worn for two or three days after surgery. Women should avoid heavy lifting and refrain from exercise and other strenuous activities for at least four weeks following the procedure. For extra support, a special soft surgical bra or athletic bra may be recommended.
Most women will be able to return to work and other less physically demanding activities about one or two weeks after undergoing a breast reduction. To ensure that the breasts are healing properly, breast reduction patients should attend follow-up appointments for two or three months after surgery.
Risk and Complications
Dr. Kunkel performs breast reduction surgery with great care, attempting to provide safe results that meet or even exceed the expectations of his patients. As with all surgical procedures, however, complications can occur. Potential risks that are specific to breast reduction surgery include asymmetry of the breasts, numbness, widening of the scars, and breasts that are larger or smaller than a woman may have desired. Other less common risks include infection, bleeding, and loss of a nipple. Dr. Kunkel discusses these issues with all breast reduction patients to help them decide if breast reduction is right for them.