Preparing for Breast Reduction Surgery

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Breast augmentation is one of the most common types of plastic surgery, but on the other hand, breast reduction is another important procedure chosen by women. What exactly is this surgery and who makes a good candidate?

Known as reduction mammoplasty, breast reduction surgery is often a solution for women with two major concerns. First, this type of surgery is a viable resolution for those who experience a range of physical symptoms and discomfort caused by the size and weight of breast tissue and fat. For example, chronic neck and back pain are two of the most common reasons many women choose to undergo a reduction mammoplasty. Excessive breast tissue and fat can be an issue for women of any shape or size. This condition, known as macromastia, affects some women after puberty and results in breasts that are excessively large in proportion to the body structure.

Another goal for breast reduction may be the same as any other elective surgery, an aesthetic concern. A poorly fitting wardrobe, mental health symptoms related to dealing with disproportionately large breasts, and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle can be harder for someone who has excessive breast tissue.

Am I a Candidate?
Living with large breasts can create emotional and physical symptoms. Whether it’s hindering you from living an active lifestyle or the physical weight of breast tissue is causing back and shoulder pain, a breast reduction surgery is an ideal option to reduce tension on the body caused by excessive breast weight.

As breast reduction is considered a major surgery, it’s important that you are able to undergo the procedure. You must be in good physical health and should not smoke. Your skin should have adequate elasticity to return to a natural shape. During the consultation with the surgeon, your medical history will be reviewed to ensure you’re a good candidate. It’s important to be transparent with your surgeon about the reasons you want a breast reduction surgery so that the procedure is not only as successful as possible, but also safe. For that reason, you need to share any emotional, mental or physical concerns you experience due to breast size.

Preparing for the Surgery
During this stage of the process, having a thorough and experienced plastic surgeon is essential. In addition to medical history, the surgeon will do a complete exam of the breasts. Detailed measurements are key during this process, as well as examining the skin quality and nipple placement. This will help the surgeon take the best course of action possible in reducing the size of the breasts and ensuring symmetry during the healing process.

Make sure all your questions are answered before the breast reduction surgery. First and foremost, you should make sure the surgeon is certified and trained for plastic surgery and that they’ve had years of experience with breast reduction surgeries. Other questions to ask should be about potential risks and complications, as well as how those issues will be handled in the event anything happened. You will want to know about incisions and potential scarring. If you’re planning to have children in the future, ask about breastfeeding abilities as well as how the breasts might look after going through pregnancy and breastfeeding.

For any surgery, it’s important to have realistic expectations. Looking at before and after photos is a good option to get an idea of the surgeon’s skill, but keep in mind that each person is different. Your surgeon should be honest with you about your potential results regarding your own breast tissue, skin quality and how much you’re planning to reduce.

Completing the Healing Process
After the surgeon completes the breast reduction surgery in an accredited location, whether that’s a hospital setting or surgical facility, it’s important to follow all the post-care instructions to ensure a safe and complication-free recovery. You’ll need at least a week or two off work to complete the recovery process, but each person is different. Following a pain management schedule, in addition to proper hygiene and bandage changing, will help keep the healing process moving forward with as few risks as possible. Physical activity, such as going to the gym or lifting anything heavy, might be restricted by a month or more, although gently stretching and moving the arms and shoulders can promote healing.

The amount of pain or discomfort with a breast reduction surgery is also relative to the individual. Most often, patients experience a lack of energy and dull breast pain or heaviness for a few days after the procedure, which can be managed with a prescribed medication provided by the surgeon.

If breast reduction surgery is something you’re considering, talk with a plastic surgeon about options to learn more. ■

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