What many don’t fully understand about the need for a breast reduction is how heavy large breasts weigh on women. A heavy chest can stress the neck and back, affecting posture and making it difficult to exercise. Large breasts can also lead to rashes in spots where skin repeatedly rubs against skin, as well as painful indentations where bra straps dig into shoulders. Add to that the attention that can accompany an oversized chest and many women find themselves feeling both uncomfortable and self-conscious.
Sometimes excess breast tissue begins to be a problem right after puberty. In other cases, pregnancy and weight gain contribute to the development of larger breasts later in life. “There is a very broad age range,” says board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Richard J. Restifo of Connecticut, whose breast reduction patients range in age from 18 to those well into their 80’s.
Do you struggle with any these symptoms due to the size of your breasts? If so, you can add a great deal of comfort, freedom and confidence to your life with a breast reduction.
Lighter & Perkier: A Win-Win
While relief from discomfort is a big reason patients decide to pursue breast reduction surgery, Dr. Restifo points out that surgery provides women with a double benefit: patients not only feel better without the added weight, they also look better thanks to the breast lift that is included as part of every breast reduction.
It’s All About Proportion
The appearance of a woman’s breasts after surgery is often just as important in the big picture as the relief from physical symptoms. “Even though we’re taking this weight off, they still really want the breasts to look good,” explains Restifo. “Most of these women, their breasts are too large for their frame. Part of the aesthetic ideal is being in proportion to the rest of your frame.”
Formulating a Plan for a Successful Surgery
Prior to surgery, Dr. Restifo spends time with each patient, discussing their goals and taking careful measurements. These measurements help him determine how much tissue will be removed, where the tissue will be removed from, where the nipples will be repositioned to and what type of incision he will use.
“In order to reshape the breast you take tissue from certain areas and you leave it in other areas. It’s a planned, artistic removal of tissue.” – Richard Restifo, MD
The Incision Decision
When it comes to determining which breast reduction incisions will be used, the two main options are known as a lollipop incision and an anchor incision. For both, a circular incision is made around the areola and a vertical line incision travels from the nipple area downward to the crease below the breast. The circular incision allows for the nipple to be repositioned into a more attractive position on the breast and the vertical incision allows for the removal of excess skin below the nipple. In an anchor incision, an additional incision is also made along the crease below the breast tissue.
“It boils down to how much smaller the woman wants to be,” explains Restifo. “Typically an anchor incision will allow you to take more skin, remove more tissue, and get more of a lift, so it depends on where the patient is starting from.”
What Does Breast Reduction Surgery Involve?
On the day of surgery, the patient is put to sleep with a general anesthetic. In the operating room, careful incisions are made according to plan, and the excess breast tissue and skin are removed. Next, the nipple is repositioned. The remaining skin is positioned around the remaining breast tissue, where it acts like a bra – lifting and supporting the new, smaller breast. The entire surgery typically takes somewhere between one and three hours from beginning to completion.
Breast Reduction Process:
- Remove Excess Skin, Fat and Glandular Breast Tissue
- Move the Nipple to Its New Position
- Reshape the Remaining Breast Tissue
Minimizing Breast Reduction Scars
For most women, the benefits of a breast reduction outweigh the appearance of any scars after surgery. Immediately following breast reduction surgery the scars are red, swollen and very visible on the bare chest. These scars are easily hidden beneath clothing and underwear and they fade with time.
“We spend a lot of effort in the operating room using small sutures and very careful technique to make the scar as good as possible,” explains Restifo. “Afterwards, there’s a protocol to minimize the scar. Ultimately, a patient’s biology will kick in. Usually, they heal pretty well.”
For women with oversized breasts, breast reduction surgery can be a life changing experience. “Its nice to do,” says Restifo,” Because I know that the patient is going to be happy.”