“I Wish I Did This Years Ago!”
That’s a wonderfully common statement. I hear it often when women return to the office after having had a breast reduction. They lived with the near-constant neck, back, and shoulder pain for years, wearing bras that were too small (because their size required an expensive custom one), never finding clothes to fit well, and struggling with attempts to exercise. Many women were reluctant to undergo elective surgery, or felt that it would be too painful. Worse yet, some didn’t realize it was an option.
Insurance policies cover most breast reduction procedures, if:
—-enough weight can be removed
—-non-surgical procedures have failed
—-the primary care provider refers you
—-your policy does not exclude specifically breast-reduction surgery
The primary goals of breast-reduction surgery are to improve symptoms of neck, back, and shoulder pain, to improve ability to exercise (and lose weight), and therefore, to improve long-term health and quality of life.
This elective out-patient surgical procedure will decrease breast size AND lift the breast. The “lift” part of this equation sounds great, but what breast-size decrease is needed to improve symptoms? In general, a resulting “C-cup” size will make an enormous difference in symptom relief, and at the same time leave a size that is very proportioned to one’s frame. So, a cup size in the DD, DDD, and above will often allow enough breast tissue removal to meet insurance criteria.
The incision pattern most commonly used will allow a decrease in the width of the areola (colored skin around the nipple), a repositioning of the nipple into the proper location, removal of excess breast skin to allow for the breast lift, and removal of the glandular breast tissue to decrease breast weight.
The procedure takes less than three hours to complete, using sutures (stitches) that are buried under the skin (absorbable), with no drainage tubes and only a few sutures to remove.
Recovery time varies, but most patients will return to work in a week. The breast shape will improve over the next several months, and the incisions will fade in six to twelve months.
Below are photos of a 34 year-old woman, with DD breasts, before and four months after breast reduction.
Note that incision lines have not faded yet.
For her, like most women, results were profound. And as such, I commonly hear comments like “this was life-changing!”, “this was the best thing I ever did for myself!”, and “I wish I’d done this years ago!”
Categorized in: breast reduction
This post was written by Bryan Oslin, MD