Breast Reduction

breastslarge-300x205Breast reduction is a procedure designed to achieve a more manageable and comfortable breast size according to your unique body proportions. This is accomplished by removing excess skin, fat, and glandular breast tissue, thereby alleviating many of the inconveniences and physical symptoms of excessive, heavy breasts. The procedure is much more common than you might think and many individuals in Huntsville come to our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. David L. Durst, to consider breast reduction. These patients often experience years of discomfort or self-consciousness as a result of their breasts being too big. When Dr. Durst examines you, he will take measurements and determine whether your current bra size is out of proportion with your ideal size based on your body frame. He will ask you about, and catalogue, your symptoms. At that time, he can make a recommendation about whether breast reduction would be most beneficial to you.

What are Common Reasons for Breast Reduction?

Large breasts often cause a range of symptoms that can make even minor tasks very taxing. In addition to the reality that some activities are simply difficult or impossible with the weight of overly large breasts, common reasons why many individuals consider breast reduction include:

  • Pain in the back, shoulders, and neck
  • Rashes and skin irritation underneath the breasts
  • Shoulder grooves and difficulty finding bras that fit
  • Difficulty exercising
  • Shortness of breath

Another frequent symptom of excessive breasts is some degree of breast droop, which often interferes with the ability to perform simple daily tasks. If these issues speak accurately to your concerns, you may be able to achieve significant improvement with the breast reduction procedure. Depending on your unique needs, some patients may need a breast lift in lieu of, or in addition to, a breast reduction to achieve their cosmetic goals.

How is the Breast Reduction Procedure Performed?

The operation involves a surgical procedure performed at the hospital or surgery center, typically with an overnight stay. Incisions will be designed on the breasts to allow lifting and tightening at the same time as a reduction in size. Many patients need reduction of at least 50% to get down to a “normal” size. The surgical techniques used in breast reduction surgery vary according to a patient’s needs and anatomical structure, but some of the different approaches available include:

Vertical or “Lollipop” Breast Reduction

Vertical breast reductions can be beneficial for women with a mild amount of breast sagging and excess skin. This technique involves making a lollipop-shaped incision that encircles the areola – the dark-pigmented area surrounding the nipple – and extends down the center of the breast, through which excess skin and breast tissue can be removed for more shapely and proportionate breasts. While this can be an effective technique for those with a moderate amount of excess breast tissue, if you have a substantial amount of excess breast tissue or are experiencing severe breast and nipple droopiness, a full breast reduction may be more appropriate. The vertical technique is more commonly performed for a “lift” rather than a true breast reduction.

Full or T-Pattern Breast Reduction

A full breast reduction best serves women with more significant amounts of excess skin and breast tissue. Typically reserved for cases of severe breast droopiness, this approach requires an anchor-shaped incision that encircles the areola, extends down to the breast crease, and continues horizontally under the breast crease for an upside-down “T” pattern. This will allow a substantial amount of skin and breast tissue to be removed so that the breasts will appear tighter and higher on the chest wall.

What is the Breast Reduction Recovery Period Like?

After surgery, a special bra will be worn for about six weeks, and most patients take about two weeks off work. Daily activities can generally be resumed after a couple of days, but patients should avoid strenuous exercise for about three weeks. The final results should reveal themselves gradually over time and, while the breasts may appear larger at first, the swelling should slowly dissipate. The soreness generally will be mild and easily controlled with prescriptions that Dr. Durst will provide for you.

How Long Do Breast Reduction Results Last?

Breast reduction is meant to be a lifetime solution to the issues caused by excessive breasts. While the breasts will continue to be influenced by the aging process, weight fluctuation, sun exposure, and other factors that may cause additional laxity, patients generally enjoy their more proportional and aesthetic breast size indefinitely. Breast reduction is often considered one of the most gratifying cosmetic surgeries available, as the reduced strain that the breasts pose on the body typically encourages patients to lead a healthier, more active lifestyle. This generally allows breast reduction to provide long-term benefits, both physically and aesthetically, to those who pursue the procedure.

Will I Have Breast Reduction Scars?

Any surgical procedure will leave scars to some degree; however, Dr. Durst is very careful to mask incisions within the natural contours of the breasts whenever possible to minimize visible scarring. The extent of your scars will depend on which breast reduction technique was used during your procedure, with the vertical or “lollipop” incision typically resulting in less post-surgical scarring than the full “T-pattern” procedure. In either case, a bra or bikini top can easily conceal any breast reduction scars. What’s more, most patients report that their scars from breast surgery tend to fade somewhat as the years go by.

How Much Does Breast Reduction Cost?

Breast reduction is often life-changing for patients who have struggled with years of pain and discomfort from a disproportionate breast size. The cost of the procedure is calculated according to the amount of reduction necessary to achieve your goals, as well as whether you qualify for insurance coverage. The price will also include expenses for the anesthesia, surgical facility, post-operative care, and other related fees. All in all, the average cost of breast reduction nationwide (without insurance coverage) ranges from $7,000 to $7,500.

After you meet with Dr. Durst, our patient care coordinator will provide you with a personalized quote based on your unique needs. We accept a number of plastic surgery financing plans for patients seeking a more affordable payment option, including those offered by CareCredit® and Prosper® Healthcare Lending. With different payment plans to choose from, these trusted lending institutions can help qualified patients pay for their breast reduction in more manageable installments, rather than a lump sum. If you have any questions about the price of breast reduction, or if you would like to speak to a member of our office, please reach out to our practice today.

Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction

In general, if you were able to breastfeed prior to surgery, breast reduction should not affect your ability to nurse; however, it is essential to communicate your plans for future breastfeeding with Dr. Durst. While it is certainly possible to perform breast reduction so that the nerves, blood vessels, and milk ducts around the nipples remain intact, some women do not have the ability to breastfeed to begin with— therefore, breast reduction will not change this outcome.

Some patients seek breast reduction even in their teenage years simply because they are too big. Even in this group, future childbearing is certainly possible, but whether breastfeeding would be possible in the future can be difficult to determine. However, for patients who have previously breastfed and wish to preserve nursing function, Dr. Durst can use the pedicle technique during your breast reduction. This technique can reposition the nipple while minimizing damage to the milk ducts, often increasing the likelihood of successful breastfeeding after surgery.

Dr. Durst generally recommends postponing breast reduction until plans for future nursing are complete. From an aesthetic standpoint, breastfeeding can cause increased skin laxity in conjunction with diminished breast volume, often resulting in the look of sag. This may affect the shape of the breasts and generally alter the cosmetic outcome achieved with breast reduction.

Should I Get a Breast Reduction or a Breast Lift?

If you experience physical symptoms, emotional discomfort, or limitations during certain activities due to the size of your breasts, a breast reduction is likely more appropriate for your needs. However, if you are happy with your current breast size but would like a more lifted, rejuvenated appearance, a cosmetic breast lift may be better suited to achieve your goals. Dr. Durst will be able to recommend the best treatment option for you during a consultation.

Additional Breast Reduction FAQs

Will my insurance cover breast reduction?

Often, breast reduction is covered by insurance. Many people now know that insurance companies are becoming stricter with the approval process for various procedures. It is important for patients to have documentation in their medical record to assist with the insurance approval process. This basically means that you should ask your primary doctor to catalogue your symptoms in their medical records and make recommendations of non-surgical treatment that might be helpful. After a period of time when these symptoms have not been alleviated by conservative methods, the approval from insurance is often not difficult to obtain. It is important though, to specifically ask your doctor to write down your symptoms in their record and then refer you to Dr. Durst for a surgical evaluation.

When can I wear a bra after breast reduction?

During recovery, you will wear a surgical bra—which Dr. Durst will provide—for around six weeks while your breasts settle. This support is necessary for many reasons, including to protect your incisions, to reduce swelling, and to shape your new breast contours. Every patient has their own unique rate of healing and Dr. Durst will inform you of when you can safely switch to a normal bra of your choosing. In general, our team recommends sticking to a comfortable, non-underwire bra that allows you to remove it/put it on without lifting your arms.

How painful is breast reduction?

The discomfort experienced after breast reduction is often described as mild by most patients, with the usual feelings of tenderness, swelling, and bruising experienced after surgery resolving as the body continues to heal. Over-the-counter pain relievers should be able to manage these reactions until they subside, and Dr. Durst will also prescribe pain medication to assuage any early discomfort. In most cases, patients feel well enough to return to work and their normal routines after one to two weeks of recovery.

Does breast reduction make you lose weight?

Breast reduction is not performed for weight loss purposes and does not usually lead to a significant change in a patient’s weight. However, the procedure may create the illusion of weight loss for some individuals due to their breasts appearing more proportionately to the rest of their body. Many patients also find that the surgery makes it easier to be more physically active in general, which can certainly lead to a future reduction in one’s weight. That said, Dr. Durst recommends consulting with a bariatric surgeon if your goals are solely encapsulated by losing weight.

How old do I have to be to get a breast reduction?

Given the pain and physical stressors often caused by overly large breasts, the breast reduction procedure is one of the only cosmetic surgeries that may be performed on teenage patients if medically necessary. Those who experience decreased health or wellness due to their breast size, but who are not yet of age, may still be able to get breast reduction with consent from their parent or legal guardian. A doctor’s recommendation is also sometimes necessary for the procedure. Dr. Durst will consult with you and your legal guardians to help ensure a full understanding of the risks and benefits of breast reduction before a decision is made about the procedure.

Can liposuction achieve breast reduction?

Fat removal via liposuction alone cannot effectively reduce and reshape the breasts. While it is true that isolated fat deposits can contribute to an excessive breast size, overly large breasts are also caused by glandular tissue, which liposuction cannot address. In turn, there is usually some degree of skin and/or breast tissue removal, as well as nipple resizing/repositioning, necessary to achieve an aesthetic result.

Dr. Durst frequently hears that the only thing that his patients wished that they could do differently about their breast reduction was to have had it years earlier. Consistently one of the most satisfying procedures in plastic surgery, Dr. Durst would be happy to talk with you about breast reduction and evaluate your situation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.