Women suffer in silence for years- even decades, from the effects of what nature has endowed them with. In our culture, just mentioning the topic of overly large breasts, will often unleash a string of snickers and one-liners.
Imagine that is your anatomy, and being constantly aware of the talk and stares. Imagine being a young girl, always standing in a slouched position, or wearing large, baggy sweatshirts and blouses. You should understand that they fail to see the humor. Women with large breasts deal with emotional as well as physical problems.
The physical effects include back and neck pain, shoulder pain, grooving or indentations in the bra strap area over the shoulders, rashes and infections in the inframammary fold, beneath the breasts. It’s difficult to find suitable clothing, difficult and painful to exercise, and emotionally painful and embarrassing.
REDUCING BREAST SIZE
Breast Reduction Surgery, or Reduction Mammaplasty, are the names for the procedure. Basically, this surgery removes excess skin, fat, and glandular tissue from the breast. Typically, the breast is also lifted to a higher and more youthful position. The nipple, usually still attached to its blood supply, is repositioned. The overall goal, is to re-size the patient’s breasts in proportion to her body.
HOW MUCH CAN BE REMOVED?
Breast Reduction is different for each patient. Thin, petite women- and tall, athletic or heavy women may be equally burdened by the size and weight of their breasts. The amount of tissue removed varies, and the answer to “how much?” is this: the amount that will give you more suitable proportion, and is most likely to give you a safe, aesthetically pleasing result. I have removed pounds of tissue from a patient’s breasts, as well as much smaller amounts.
HOW IS IT DONE?
- This surgery most often requires general anesthesia. Usually, an incision is made around the areola.
- Another type of incision might be the so-called “keyhole” or lollipop technique, with the incision going around the areola, and down the center of the underside of the breast.
- The incision may be in the shape of an anchor, or “T.”
- Through the incision, the excess tissue and skin are removed, and then the nipple repositioned, and the areola reduced if needed.
- The newly reduced breast tissue is lifted and re-shaped. Sometimes a ‘free nipple graft’ will be performed, that is, the nipple and areola might be removed and placed in a new, higher position. This technique is most often seen in cases of very pendulous breasts.
WILL THE SCARS BE VISIBLE?
There will be scarring, as with all surgical incisions, but the lines will fade with time, to become almost invisible. There are no incisions on the upper part of the breast mound, other than around the areola, and therefore, no scarring at all in areas that are most likely to show.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AFTER MY SURGERY?
- Following your surgery, you will be wearing dressings over your incisions, and a special post-surgical garment (bra). You will probably be sent home with drains attached to the surgical site. These serve an important purpose, in collecting excess fluid that may be present for some days after your procedure. Your doctor will remove these at the appropriate time.
- You’ll also have a list of instructions to follow, which will include advisories on limiting a number of activities for a short time. Once again, it’s very important to follow these instructions, to minimize possible risks and complications.
- You will need some recovery time, but within a week or so following surgery, you’ll be able to resume many activities.
IF BREAST REDUCTION SOLVES A MEDICAL PROBLEM, IS IT COVERED BY INSURANCE?
Very often, yes. But while Breast Reduction is seen as Reconstructive surgery, many insurance companies consider it to be a cosmetic procedure. Depending on your insurance carrier, there may be a list of criteria established by the company (such as the amount of tissue to be removed) that may determine whether the surgery will be covered.
Most breast reduction patients are very happy with the results of their surgery, noting the great improvement in their physical symptoms, the new level of activity they can enjoy, and the added cosmetic benefits they see for a lifetime.
Dr. Vincent Lepore is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, performing Breast Reduction for patients in San Jose, Palo Alto, Los Gatos, and all over the Bay Area. His experienced staff will work with your insurance carrier, to determine what coverage might be possible for this procedure.