Breast Reduction

breastslarge-300x205Many patients come to our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. David L. Durst, to consider breast reduction. This procedure is much more common than you might think. Patients who consider breast reduction often experience years of discomfort or self-consciousness as a result of their breasts being too big. Pain from excessive breasts often affects the back, shoulders, and neck. Symptoms may also include problems with rashes underneath the breasts, difficulty finding bras that fit, and the reality that some activities simply are not possible when the breasts are too big. If this speaks accurately to your concerns, you may be able to achieve significant improvement with the breast reduction procedure.

Another component of overly large breasts is often some degree of breast droop, which may interfere with your ability to perform simple daily tasks. 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 frame. He will ask you about, and catalogue, your symptoms. At that time, he will make a recommendation about whether breast reduction would be most beneficial to you. Some patients may need a breast lift in lieu of, or in addition to, a breast reduction to achieve their cosmetic goals.

Breast Reduction Procedure

The operation involves a surgical procedure performed at the hospital or Surgery Center, typically with an overnight stay. Incisions will be designed on the breast to allow the breast to be lifted and tightened at the same time as being reduced 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.

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.

Breast Reduction Recovery

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. Some patients seek breast reduction even in their teenage years just because they are simply way too big. Even in this group, future childbearing is certainly possible, but whether breast-feeding would be possible in the future can be difficult to determine.

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.

Will My Insurance Cover Breast Reduction?

Often breast reduction is covered by insurance. Many people now know that the insurance companies are getting tighter 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 the medical record and make recommendations of nonsurgical treatment that might be helpful. After a period of time when these symptoms have not been alleviated by conservative methods, the approval from insurance often will not be difficult to obtain. It is important though, to specifically ask your doctor to write down your symptoms in their record, then refer you to Dr. Durst for a surgical evaluation.

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. 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. That said, 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.

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.