Breast Reduction: The Facts

A breast reduction, called a reduction mammaplasty, involves reducing the amounts of fat, skin and glandular tissue in and around the mammary glands. Many woman have excessively large breasts, which can cause back problems, shoulder pain, and an inhibition of daily activities. For this reason, among others, some women prefer to have a breast reduction in order to reduce the size of their breasts.

While much of a woman’s breast size is determined by her genetic make-up, weight and hormonal levels can also influence an enlargement of the breasts. Some women deal with large breasts from early adolescence, while others experience growth during pregnancy, menopause or HRT.

For the most part, breast reductions are performed for physical reasons rather than simple cosmetic changes. Breast reduction surgeries are most common in women who have large breasts that cause neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, circulation problems or difficulty breathing. Other popular causes include the desire to engage in a sporting activity that is made impossible because of breast size as well as the difficulty with finding clothing that will fit a mostly top-heavy woman.

During breast reduction surgery, not only are the breasts reduced in size, but the nipples are also repositioned so that the breast looks normal. In some cases, one breast will be significantly larger than the other, which can also be corrected during a breast reduction. Most doctors do not advise breast reduction surgery until the woman has reached an age at which the breasts have fully developed.

Many time, multiple breast reduction surgeries are required because a monumental reduction can result in an “off” appearance of the breasts, and gradual reductions are necessary for cosmetic purposes. Breast reductions can take from two-to-four hours, and are typically conducted as an inpatient procedure. Women who hope to have breast reduction surgery should count on a hospital stay of at least two days.

Following surgery, the patient will be required to wear a surgical bra for a period of at least fourteen days, as well as an elastic bandage that will hold dressings for a period of at least two days. For twenty-four hours, tubes will remain in each breast so that fluids can drain, and pain might be moderate to severe for the first seventy-two hours. Discomfort will remain for about a week, but will gradually lesson. Stitches either dissolve or are removed within two weeks.

Patients recovering from breast reduction surgery should refrain from heavy lifting or from strenuous activity for at least two weeks. Some patients take up to a year to fully adjust to this monumental change in their bodies, while others feel completely normal after one month.

Some insurance plans cover breast reduction surgery, although you’ll have to check with your insurance provider to make sure. Most breast reductions cost between five and ten thousand dollars.

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