For thousands of women, excessively large breasts can take a physical and emotional toll. Breast reduction surgery, also called a reduction mammaplasty, is one way women can alleviate pain and feel more at ease in their own bodies. Last year, more than 41,000 patients had breast reduction surgery, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Here are some common questions women may have when considering breast reduction surgery.
Q: Why would someone have breast reduction surgery?
A: Women with excessively large breasts can suffer from chronic pain in their backs, necks and shoulders, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Large breasts can also cause poor posture and nerve problems. Bra straps can leave deep grooves in the shoulders. The skin underneath the breasts can be chronically irritated. Some women have difficulty sleeping or fitting into clothing. Certain physical activities might also be impaired. Emotionally, large breasts can cause self-consciousness and poor self-image.
Q: Who is a good candidate for breast reduction surgery?
A: Ideally, patients should wait until their breasts are finished growing, according to the Mayo Clinic. Younger women who have surgery too soon can sometimes see tissue growth afterward; the same thing also can happen occasionally to women who experience pregnancy after the procedure.
Q: What is the best cup size for my body?
A: The best cup size for your body will vary depending on a number of different considerations. Most women have some idea of their “perfect size” and during the consultation process we will work together to narrow down the most realistic and feasible size for their body.
Q: Can I lose weight to shrink my breasts?
A: Weight loss can reduce breast size for most women. However, weight loss might not be an option for women who have a healthy body mass index. Also, weight loss might not reduce breast size enough to eliminate associated pain and limited activity.
Q: Can I breastfeed my child after breast reduction surgery?
A: Possibly. Some women cannot, but some research suggests that breastfeeding is possible after a breast reduction for some women. Be sure to discuss your options with your doctor before undergoing any procedures.
Q: Will my health insurance pay for my surgery?
A: Sometimes. The answer depends on your health insurance coverage. Some insurance companies will cover the procedure if you have symptoms such as pain. Insurers will also want to know specifics of your situation, like how much tissue your doctor expects to remove from each breast. Some companies use a formula called the Schnur Sliding Scale to determine how much tissue must be removed for the operation to be deemed medically necessary. For many policies, the reduction must remove about 500 grams from each breast, or about 1 pound. You can request a precertification from your insurance company with the help of your doctor. When demonstrating medical necessity for the procedure, submit documentation from other medical professionals, such as chiropractors or internists. A decision by your insurance company will likely take several weeks, so plan accordingly. If your insurance company denies your request, you can appeal.
Q: What options do I have besides surgery?
A: Strengthening your back and shoulder muscles can reduce pain, and losing excess weight can reduce breast size for some women. Wearing supportive bras can also alleviate some problems, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Q: How will my surgeon prepare me for the procedure?
A: Your doctor will first evaluate your health to determine if you are healthy enough for surgery. Your surgeon will also examine, measure and photograph your breasts and then discuss expectations with you. Before surgery, your doctor may ask you to have a mammogram. You may also have to take new medicine or adjust your current medicine regiment, avoid aspirin and stop smoking.
Q: What does a plastic surgeon do during breast reduction surgery?
A: Each surgeon has his or her own techniques, but some commonalities exist. Anesthesia is needed. The surgeon will then make an incision or incisions in each the breast and remove tissue, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The breast is then reshaped. The nipple usually remains attached; for very large, drooping breasts, the nipple may be removed and transplanted to another location. All incisions are then closed.
Q: What are the risks of surgery?
A: Breast reduction surgery has risks that are the same for any surgery, such as bleeding and infection. Risks specific to the procedure include scarring, a loss of sensation, an asymmetry between breasts or the loss of the nipple, according to American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Q: What is recovery like after surgery?
A: Some women are able to go home the same day as the procedure, while other women stay the night in the hospital, according to the Mayo Clinic. You will most likely be prescribed pain medication and antibiotics to head off infection. Your breasts will most likely be tender for several days after surgery, and your doctor will likely limit your physical activity for a few weeks. If you have non-dissolving stitches, you will return to your doctor’s office to have them removed. Swelling can last for several weeks.
Are you interested in discussing what breast reduction surgery would look like for you? Contact us today and we’ll schedule your consultation with Dr. Sawan!