Breast Reduction Surgery
Women with very large, heavy, and sagging breasts can have significant neck, back, and shoulder pain, as well as other symptoms. Such patients find that breast reduction surgery at our Minneapolis, Minnesota practice greatly benefits their lives. Breast reduction patients not only experience relief from their symptoms, but also gain the ability to exercise more freely, wear better-fitting clothes, and enjoy an improved self-image. Of all the surgeries that plastic surgeons perform, breast reduction ranks among the highest in patient satisfaction.
Candidates for Breast Reduction Surgery
Adult patients of any age may have breast reduction surgery performed by our Minneapolis, Minnesota plastic surgeons; however, our doctors recommend waiting until after the breasts have fully developed to undergo this procedure. Women who have sagging breasts or drooping nipples but would like their breasts lifted and rejuvenated rather than reduced in size may be excellent candidates for breast lift surgery, which often utilizes the same breast-shaping incisions.
You may be a good candidate for breast reduction if you have any of the following problems:
- Headache; Neck, back, or shoulder pain
- Shoulder notching / furrowing from your bra straps
- Numbness in some fingers from bra strap pressure on nerves in your neck/shoulder
- Heavy, sagging breasts
- Breasts that are too large for your body size
- Irritation and rash beneath your breasts
- Difficulty with exercise and physical activities due to large, heavy breasts
- One breast that is larger than the other, creating significant asymmetry
Some women may qualify for insurance coverage for breast reduction surgery, depending on their plan requirements and restrictions. Please schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our Minneapolis / St. Paul area plastic surgeons to see if your health care plan may cover part or all of this surgery. If you prefer breast reduction surgery at our office surgical facility, we can give you exact cost information, financing options, or discuss other options that may help you recover some of your out-of-network expense.
During breast reduction surgery, fatty tissue, glandular tissue, and excess skin in the breast are removed through carefully-designed incisions that shape, lift, and create smaller, more proportionate breasts. Depending on each individual woman’s breast anatomy, one of several breast reduction designs may be recommended. Incisions are usually made around the areolas and along the undersides of the breasts. Areola size can be reduced along with the breast volume if desired.
Plastic surgeons often debate about which breast reduction design (incision pattern) is “best.” Numerous breast reduction techniques have been introduced over the years; each “new” design purports to achieve more shapely, better outcome, or more long-lasting results with fewer incisions and resultant permanent scars. Suffice it to say that fewer incisions do indeed mean fewer scars, but also mean less skin removal and less effective shaping. Skin removal in one dimension only (as in vertical, lollipop, or circumvertical reductions) means there will be less shaping and more boxiness in the horizontal dimension. Donut (periareolar) reductions remove only a small amount of breast skin and tissue excess, and tend to flatten the breasts and create wide or unsightly scars around the areolas. Other designs are artistic and can yield reasonably good results with unusual scar patterns, but are not applicable for the majority of breast reduction patients.
Breast reduction surgery is performed under general anesthesia and usually takes between two to four hours to complete. After removing excess breast skin and tissue, the remaining skin is tailored into a new skin brassiere, and the nipple/areola complex is raised to a more youthful position, making the breasts lighter, smaller, firmer, and more youthful. Rarely, a drain may be placed to allow excess fluid and blood to be removed from the breasts, speeding healing. Careful and precise surgery has allowed our surgeons to avoid drains in the vast majority of our breast reduction patients.
After your surgery, you will be wrapped in an elastic bandage or surgical bra over gauze pads for two to three days. Although there is an incision around each areola, the nipple/areola complex remains attached to the breast ducts and tissue, which usually preserves nipple sensation as well as the ability to breast-feed. Nipple sensation can be lost in about 15% of patients who undergo breast reduction surgery. Depending on the breast lift design chosen for each woman’s specific anatomy and wishes, scars can also extend from the areola to the inframammary crease, and in the inframammary crease (under the breast).
When completely healed, the scars fade and are not visible with most bathing suits or clothing, including V or revealing necklines. When unclothed, the scars are usually minimally visible, but can widen or thicken in some patients. Since we use only dissolving sutures below the surface of the skin, no stitches need removal, and the breasts heal without crosshatch marks or unsightly railroad-track scars.
Recovery and Results
Patients can expect a recovery period of about two weeks, during which no strenuous activity or exercise is allowed. Gentle showering is allowed by the second or third day after surgery, but you should avoid vigorous scrubbing, baths, Jacuzzis, or swimming pools until three weeks from surgery. Some bruising and swelling may be noted after surgery, but in most cases this is minimal and will subside towards the end of this period. Women resume normal everyday activities within a day or so, and can usually return to work in several days provided that their occupation does not involve heavy lifting or other physically strenuous activity. Over time, the breasts will settle into their new position. Because of their smaller size and “perkier” appearance, the breasts often look better in clothes after breast reduction surgery than they did prior to treatment. Patients are also happy to be able to enjoy more active lifestyles than were possible with large, heavy breasts.
Although complications are possible with any surgery, breast reduction has one of the highest patient satisfaction rates, and most complications are uncommon and easily treated. Careful surgery, as well as patient compliance with post-operative instructions, reduces the likelihood of any complication. Every patient should avoid aspirin or ibuprofen-containing medications for two weeks before and after surgery, as these medications can increase the risk of bleeding and re-operation. Vitamin E and herbal medications or supplements should also be avoided as these too can cause bleeding or interfere with anesthesia.
Breast reduction patients must not smoke or use any kind of nicotine product (patches, spray, or nicotine gum) for two weeks before and after surgery, as nicotine can cause serious circulation problems in the tightened breast skin. If the circulation is impaired past a critical degree, breast skin or nipple/areolar skin can be lost, requiring prolonged dressing changes, skin graft, or additional revisionary surgery, as well as significantly increased scarring. Even one cigarette or exposure to second-hand smoke can increase these risks to as high as 15-20%. Increased scarring or poor healing can result from poor circulation even in non-smokers, though this is rare.
Infection following breast reduction surgery is exceedingly rare, but is possible with any operation. Antibiotics are given just before your surgery, and antibiotic/antiseptic irrigation is utilized during surgery. Oral antibiotics after surgery further reduce the risk of infection. Care of the incisions after surgery, and avoidance of contact with pets will be necessary, and you will be given detailed information during your follow-up visits to assist you in an uneventful recovery.
Most women with large breasts have some degree of breast asymmetry naturally, and absolute symmetry is both unrealistic and impossible after breast reduction surgery. If you have more noticeable asymmetry, each breast can be reduced appropriately to improve symmetry to a marked degree.
Cost for Breast Reduction Surgery
Total cost for breast reduction surgery in Minneapolis Plastic Surgery’s nationally-accredited (AAAASF) on-site office surgical facility, is around $9500. In some cases, women may qualify for insurance coverage for breast reduction surgery, depending on their plan requirements and restrictions. Please schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our American Board of Plastic Surgery-certified plastic surgeons to see if your health care plan may cover part or all of this surgery. If you prefer breast reduction surgery at our office surgical facility, we can give you exact cost information, financing options, or discuss other options that may help you recover some of your out-of-network expense.
Contact Minneapolis Plastic Surgery for Breast Reduction Surgery
At Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, LTD. Ltd. in Minnesota, breast reduction surgery is performed by our ABPS-certified plastic surgeons, Dr. Richard H. Tholen and Dr. Douglas L. Gervais. Both have received special training in breast surgery and have over 45 years of combined experience in breast reduction techniques. Please contact our practice, serving the Minneapolis / St. Paul area, to schedule a free consultation with our aesthetic plastic surgeons and learn more about how this procedure may be able to improve your appearance and quality of life.