If you have excessively large breasts that cause discomfort, pain, or embarrassment, you may consider breast reduction surgery.
Breast reduction, also known as reduction mammoplasty, will be of help if you have heavy breasts that are not in proportion with the rest of your body.
Elective procedures like breast reduction are not covered by insurance and many women opt for self-pay breast reduction abroad. If you are planning a cosmetic surgery vacation for breast reduction, the below information will be useful.
The common reasons to consider breast reduction are:
- You are not comfortable with the big size of your breasts
- If the size of your breasts is disproportionate to the rest of your body and their heaviness causes pain in your neck, back or shoulders
- One of your breasts is larger than the other
Breast reduction is not only a cosmetic surgery, but a medical need for women who have naturally heavy breasts and suffer from pain, bad posture, and other problems because of it.
You are, if:
- You are very unhappy with how large your breasts are
- You have constant skin irritation under your breasts
- Your bras often leave grooves in your shoulders
- Excessive breast weight causes numbness in parts of your chest
- You have pain in your shoulders, back or neck due to the weight of your breasts
Also, you must be:
- Old enough so your breasts have completed developing
- Not pregnant or lactating because that affects the breast size
- In good general health with no systemic diseases that can complicate healing
- A positive person who has realistic expectations from cosmetic surgery
If you plan to have children after breast reduction surgery, know that pregnancy can reverse or alter the effects of the surgery.
Breast-feeding after breast reduction surgery may be problematic, so it is imperative you discuss your plans with your surgeon.
Breast reduction is contraindicated if:
- You suffer from severe obesity, diabetes
- You have history of irregular mammograms, undiagnosed lumps or masses in your breasts
STEP 1 – Marking your breast
Using a surgical marker, your surgeon will make some markings on your skin to indicate the place of the incisions, where the nipple will be moved to, etc.
It is important because once you lie down, your breasts are going to change shape, and so the surgeon must know exactly where to work.
STEP 2 – Anesthesia
Breast reduction surgery is done under general anesthesia; it can take two to five hours.
STEP 3 – Incision
Usually a keyhole incision—a cut around your nipple and then down towards the crease—is made, through which the extra fat, tissue is removed. An extra cut may also be made along the crease of the breast, depending upon the requirement.
The extra skin is also removed and tightened and the nipple is repositioned.
Liposuction, if required along with the surgery, may also be done at this stage. In cases where mild to moderate reduction is required, only liposuction for breast reduction may be enough.
STEP 4 – Sutures
Drainage tubes are put in place and the incision is stitched up and wrapped in surgical gauze.
- You will be asked to stay 1-2 days at the hospital
- As you regain consciousness from anesthesia, you will feel slight pain and stiffness in your chest area
- The surgical site will be covered with gauze and your breasts will be wrapped in bandage
- You will be given a special surgical bra to wear over the next couple of days
- You may find small drainage tube coming from the surgical site; it will be removed before you leave
- If the stitches are not dissolvable, they will be removed in about two week’s time
- You will be encouraged to walk around as soon as you feel fit to do it; this helps in maintaining blood flow and avoiding clots
- You will experience pain and discomfort for 1-2 weeks after the surgery; pain killers and antibiotics must be taken as advised
- You must plan to stay at destination for 2-3 weeks after the surgery to allow the surgical site to heal before you fly back
- Some patients recover sooner than others if they are in good health
- If you must fly back soon, remember to see your surgeon and get a fit-to-fly certificate from him
- When you get your treatment plan and quote from the doctor, he/she will tell you about the tentative stay time in hospital as well as in the recovery house or hotel
- Complete recovery after breast reduction will take about 6 weeks time
- Gradually the swelling and bruising will subside but you must be very gentle with your breasts for a couple of weeks
- Surgical bra will help the swelling to subside; ice packs may also be used as advised
- Also, to aide in swelling reduction, you will be advised to sleep in an inclined position (at an angle of 25-45 degrees)
- Until your sutures or removed or the incision have completely closed, you should avoid wetting the surgical site; sponge baths are advised and hot tubs, saunas and showers must be avoided for 2 weeks
- You will be able to return to work and resume regular chores 2-3 weeks after breast reduction surgery. Some women are able to resume normalcy sooner than others because of the difference in their capacity to heal
- Consider arranging the things you need in easily accessible places, because you will not be able to raise your hands over your head for some time after the surgery
- Do not take on any heavy lifting or vigorous exercise until you heal completely
- Scars after breast reduction will fade over time but they will not completely vanish
You will be asked to:
- Get some blood tests
- Get a baseline mammogram, especially if you are above 40 years
- Avoid smoking for 6 weeks before and after the surgery to accelerate healing
- Avoid blood thinners like aspirin and other drugs that can interfere with healing
- Have lots of water and reduce alcohol intake to 2-3 times per week
- Stock your place with fruits, vegetable, and high-protein, low-sodium foods
- If you can, arrange for some help at home for a couple of weeks because your arms will have limited mobility
- Get slip-on shoes, loose comfortable clothes (front-button tops) to wear for 2 weeks after the surgery
Preparation with your surgeon will involve:
- Evaluation of your medical history and current health
- A detailed description of the risks and benefits of breast reduction
- Measurement of your breast size and discussion of your expectations from the surgery
- Instructions to prepare for the surgery – like not eating or bathing 12 hours before the surgery
95.4% of the patients who underwent breast reduction are completely satisfied with the results, according to the numbers shared by the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
If you are nervous about undergoing breast reduction because of the safety factor, you must know that a qualified surgeon, who has enough experience in the field, can ensure your breast reduction is a safe procedure.
Fortunately, serious complications after breast reduction are rare.
The risks associated with breast reduction, although rare, are discussed below:
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Infection and excessive bleeding
- Accumulation of blood (hematoma) or formation of clots
- Damage to underlying structures or nerves
- Reduced sensitivity or total loss of sensation in breasts
- Loss of sensation in nipples
- Problems with breast feeding
- Asymmetrical breasts
- Unsatisfactory results that necessitate revision of surgery
For the success of breast reductions surgery, it is imperative that you are actively involved in every stage of your treatment.
Do not hesitate to ask any question at any stage. You can also use the list of questions below to ask your cosmetic surgeon:
- Am I a good candidate for breast reduction?
- How many breast reduction surgeries have you performed?
- Can you share in any before after picture of breast reduction patients?
- Have any of your patients experienced major complications from breast reduction surgery?
- How were the complications resolved?
- When will I able to resume normal activities?
- What are the associated costs?
- How many days will I be required to stay in the hospital?
- How many follow-up visits are usually required?
- If the surgery does not meet the discussed goals, what options do I have?
If you are planning for breast reduction abroad, additional questions to ask are:
- How soon can I safely fly back home after breast reduction?
- How can I contact you, in case it is needed after I return home?
- When can I return to work?
- Should I bring along a companion?
- Will he/she be allowed to stay with me in the hospital room?
Before you opt for breast reduction surgery, fully equip yourself with all the knowledge regarding the surgery, including the risks, and prepare for it well so the process is smooth and you do not face any complications later.
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