Large breasts may be cosmetically desirable for some women, but they often result in unwanted side effects, such as chronic neck, back and shoulder pain, poor posture, or a skin rash below and between the breasts. Many large-breasted women develop deep grooves on their shoulders from bra straps. Physical activities may be restricted, and fitting and wearing comfortable clothes may be difficult. For women dissatisfied with these side effects, breast reduction can be the answer.
Breast reduction surgery can be conducted on an inpatient or outpatient basis. General anesthesia is most commonly used. The surgeon makes an anchor-shaped incision around the areola, vertically from the areola to the natural crease below the breast, and horizontally across the crease below the breast. Excess skin, fat and breast tissue is removed to reach the desired size. Sutures are used to close the incision. If the reduction is dramatic, the areola may need to be removed and repositioned on the breast. The surgery generally lasts about 3 hours.
Drainage tubes may be inserted in the breasts to help remove excess liquid the first day or two after the surgery. A dressing will also cover the area. Swelling, bruising and sensitivity are normal the first few weeks and will dissipate over time. Generally, sutures are removed in 7 to 10 days and patients return to work within 2 to 3 weeks. However, no heavy lifting or strenuous activity is permitted for 4 to 6 weeks.