Large breasts aren’t for everyone. They can, in some cases, cause backaches, neck pain, and shoulder pains, and excess tissues can make them sag prematurely, pulling the nipples downwards.

A surgical breast reduction is suitable for patients desiring smaller, more manageable breasts for aesthetic or functional purposes. A breast reduction, as the name suggests, focuses on removing excess breast tissues to reduce their overall size.

This article provides an overview of breast reduction surgeries, including the techniques used, preparation, post-treatment process, and potential risks.

How do I prepare for breast reduction?

In most cases, patients need to start preparing for breast reduction surgeries a few weeks in advance. During your consultation with the surgeon, you should be honest and upfront about your ongoing medications, drug use, and lifestyle. This will allow the surgeon to provide accurate preparation guidelines.

The following are some general pre-surgery tips to improve the outcome:

  • Don’t take blood-thinning medications for 2 weeks before the procedure.
  • Quit smoking at least 6 weeks before the procedure.
  • Avoid alcohol for at least 1 week before the procedure.
  • Don’t go for cosmetic treatments or apply self-tanning products.
  • Reveal all your medications to your surgeon — they may ask you to discontinue some medications for a few days or weeks.

Smoking, alcohol, and blood-thinning medications increase the risk of bleeding and reduce your body’s ability to heal itself. As such, you must follow the surgeon’s recommendations to ensure a smooth recovery process.

 What are the available methods of breast reduction?

A breast reduction surgery can be performed using three possible incision styles — periareolar, vertical, or inverted. After making the incision, the surgeon removes excess skin tissues, fat tissues, and glandular tissues to help you achieve the optimal breast proportions and size.

Your plastic surgeon will select the ideal incision based on your specific needs. However, the following is an overview of the incisions used for breast reduction:

  • Periareolar Incision: Also known as the “donut lift,” this incision is suitable for individuals requiring mild reduction. The surgeon makes a circular incision around the areola and a bigger circular around the breast. The skin between the two circles will be removed to reduce the breast and areola size.
  • Vertical Incision: Also known as the “lollipop” or “short scar” breast reduction, this technique is suitable for individuals requiring moderate reduction. The surgeon makes an incision around the areola, and another incision runs from the bottom of the areola to the breast fold. This technique facilitates the excision of significant breast tissues while minimizing the scar’s appearance.
  • Inverted-T Incision: Also known as the “anchor” reduction, this technique is suitable for individuals with severe sagging. The surgeon makes an incision around the areola, another incision from the areola to the breast fold, and a final incision along the breast fold. This technique produces a fairly visible scar after the breast tissues are removed.

Out of all the incision styles described above, the lollipop or short-scar incision is considered the best. That’s because it facilitates significant correction, almost as much as the anchor reduction while minimizing the visible scar.

In most cases, there’s no need to remove and graft nipples during a breast reduction. However, if you have extremely large nipples that hang downwards, your surgeon may discuss nipple reduction techniques, as well.

What’s the recovery process like after breast reduction?

Immediately after the surgery, you will experience bruising, swelling, and tightness in your breasts for a few days. The swelling and bruising will persist for up to 2 weeks, during which you’ll have to wear compression garments for 24 hours a day. However, your specific recovery journey will depend on your lifestyle, surgical technique, and healing capacity.

The following is a general overview of the recovery timeline after a breast reduction:

  • You must wear post-operative compression garments 24 hours a day for up to 2 weeks.
  • After the first 2 weeks, you should continue wearing compression garments for a few hours a day for around 3 months.
  • You should avoid driving until you’ve recovered completely since you can’t wear a seatbelt.
  • You can resume work after 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the nature of your work and your specific recovery process.
  • You can resume exercises after 6 weeks.

Your plastic surgeon will provide a comprehensive list of postoperative guidelines to ensure a safe recovery process. You must also stay in touch with your surgeon and consult them whenever you increase your activity levels.

What are the potential risks of breast reduction?

When performed by highly trained and specialized plastic surgeons, breast reduction is a safe procedure with no long-term complications. However, if performed by an inexperienced surgeon, there may be some risks.

The following are the potential risks of breast reduction:

  • Infections
  • Hematoma
  • Seroma — watery fluids accumulated under the skin
  • Unwanted scarring
  • Unwanted aesthetic results
  • Allergic reactions to the anesthetic medicine
  • Reduction in the ability to breastfeed
  • Death of nipple tissues
  • Permanent loss of sensation in the nipples

If your breasts prevent you from leading a happy, comfortable life, you may be a suitable candidate for breast reduction. However, while pursuing this procedure, you must schedule an appointment with a reliable plastic surgeon with a proven track record.