Breast reduction, or reduction mammaplasty, is often performed for physical relief rather than simply cosmetic improvement. Women with very large breasts may experience a variety of medical problems caused by the excessive weight, including back and neck pain, skin irritation, skeletal deformities, and breathing problems. In addition, very large breasts may make a woman or teenage girl feel very self-conscious. However, this procedure is not recommended for women who intend to breast-feed.
Although techniques vary, the most common surgical technique involves an anchor-shaped incision that circles the areola, extends downward and follows the natural curve of the breast. The surgeon removes the excess glandular tissue, fat and skin, and moves the nipple and areola into their new position. The surgeon then brings the skin from both sides of the breast down and around the areola, shaping the new contour of the breast.
Most of the time, the nipples remain attached to their blood vessels and nerves. However, if the breasts are very large or pendulous, the nipples and areolas may have to be completely removed and grafted into a higher position. This will result in a loss of sensation in the nipple and areolar tissue.
After the surgery, you will be placed in a surgical bra over gauze dressings. A small tube will be placed in each breast to drain off fluids for the first day or two. You may feel pain for the first few days after the surgery, and discomfort for a week or two. Medications may be prescribed to lessen the pain. Bandages will be removed a day or two after the surgery, but the surgical bra must be worn around the clock for several weeks until the bruising and swelling subside. Sutures are removed in one to three weeks.
Although much of the swelling and bruising will disappear in the first few weeks, it may be six months to a year before your breasts settle into their new shape. Scars may remain red and lumpy for months, gradually becoming less obvious fading into thin white lines. Of all plastic surgery procedures, breast reduction results in the quickest body image changes. You will no longer have the physical discomfort of large breasts. Your body will look better proportioned, and your clothes will fit better.