Breast reduction is usually performed for enlarged breasts (macromastia), but may also be indicated by:
cystic breast infections (polycystic mastitis)
back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, breast pain, or headaches
loss of sensation in the breasts, arms, or fingers
sleeping problems or poor posture resulting from large breasts
pigmented bra-strap groove
striae (scarlike lines) on the breasts
Mammograms (breast X-rays) and a routine breast exam are required before surgery.
Breast-revision surgery is performed while you are deep asleep and pain-free (using general anesthesia), in either an outpatient facility or in the hospital.
Incisions are made along the natural creases in the breast and around the dark pink skin surrounding the nipple (areola). A keyhole-shaped incision above the areola is also made to define the new location of the nipple. Skin is then removed from the lower section of the breast. The areola, nipple, and underlying breast tissue are moved up to a higher position. The nipple is moved and incisions are closed with stitches (sutures).
For a reduction in breast-size, some of the breast tissue is removed and the nipples are relocated higher on the breasts for cosmetic reasons. After surgery, a bulky gauze dressing is wrapped around the breasts and chest. Sometimes a surgical bra is used. Pain is controlled by medication, and usually subsides in a day or two. Most patients stay in the hospital for two days.
The dressing is replaced by a soft bra within the first week, and it must be worn for several weeks. Generally, the swelling and discoloration around the incisions subside within a few days. There may be temporary loss of sensation in the breast skin and nipples after surgery. This condition improves with time. Within two weeks of surgery, stitches (sutures) are removed.
David A. Lickstein, MD, FACS, specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, Palm Beach Gardnes, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.