In an era where many women want a prominent bust and choose to breast implant surgeries, a special category is dealing with serious health problems caused by too large breasts: back pain, muscle pain, spinal deformity by improper posture, skin problems caused by sweating, unable to sleep on stomach and also a damaged appearance after a certain age.
Reduction mammaplasty represents the surgery procedure of breast reduction. The first breast reduction surgery has been described in the VIIth century, and today is one of the most common plastic surgeries. The breasts’ size and weight can be reduced through various surgical techniques that differ mainly in two aspects: the location of incisions (and the resulting scars) and the gland portion (pedicle) kept after the excess tissue is removed.
How much does breast reduction surgery cost?
The average cost of breast reduction surgery without insurance ranges between $9,700 to $12,800. In this price, several expenses will be included, like post-operatory care supplies, facility fees, surgeon’s fees, and anesthesiologist fees.
An average breast reduction cost – $11,000
- Surgeon’s average cost: $5,500 – $6,500
- Anesthesiologist average cost: $2,500 – $3,500
- Facility average cost: $2,000 – $2,500
Is breast reduction surgery covered by health insurance?
The reason why you choose to undergo breast reduction surgery will dictate whether or not you can use medical insurance to cover part of its cost. If you’re getting breast reduction surgery as a way of improving your aesthetics, then it will be considered a cosmetic procedure.
If this is the case, then you should know that most insurance providers won’t cover the costs of cosmetic surgery. According to data from 2021 provided by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average out-of-pocket breast reduction cost for surgery done for aesthetic reasons was around $6,800.
If instead, you will get a breast reduction to treat chronic pain or other physical conditions, depending on your health insurance plan, you might be covered for the procedure. Keep in mind that most insurance companies ask for proof that you’ve first attempted nonsurgical methods first without success before going for the surgery. A non-surgical approach example is physical therapy.
Also, there are insurance companies that won’t cover your surgery unless a minimum amount of breast tissue is removed, something that will be calculated based on your overall body weight.
What is the point of the surgery?
Breast Reduction aims to improve breast proportions, position, and appearance, contributing to local harmony. In addition, reducing excess breast tissue improves the quality of life, along with the elimination of macro mania symptoms – spine pain, shoulders, chest, etc. – and increases mobility.
Like any plastic surgery, it is important to know what the patient needs to change, and surgical remodeling possibilities, to be in concordance with their expectations.
Why people consider having breast reduction surgery
Most people will take the decision of undergoing breast reduction surgery due to a combination of factors. While some only have cosmetic reasons in mind, others want to reduce some types of physical discomfort, which can include:
- issues with how swimsuits, shirts, or other pieces of clothing fit their body
- problems with parts of the bra like the shoulder dents created from straps
- a hunched posture
- rashes that are persistent in areas like between and underneath the breasts
- breast pain during routine activities like exercise
- chronic back pain
If you don’t fall into any of these categories but you want to help soothe emotional distress caused by large breasts causing other types of physical discomfort, then you can still consider this procedure. These considerations should lead to an improvement in the quality of life you experience.
What’s a breast reduction procedure like?
In general, breast reduction is performed under general anesthesia. The surgery lasts about 3-4 hours but may be extended, if it is necessary, depending on the complexity of changes.
There are several surgical procedures for breast reduction, differentiated by the size and location of the incisions, as well as depending on the excision method for the excess breast tissue.
Also Read About The Cost of Liposuction
Most breast reduction surgeries can be done on an outpatient basis. The needed incisions will be made directly on your breasts and through them, the surgeon will remove any tissues, skin, and excess fat. Before the incisions are completely closed with sutures, your breasts will have to be reshaped so that the procedure looks as good as possible.
The most common incision describes an outline like “a keyhole”, which ensures access to breast tissue. The resulting scar is similar to an “anchor” or an “inverted T” formed by periareolar paths, which continues with a median vertical scar, perpendicular to a slightly curved scar, situated under the breast (in the inframammary fold).
Among the most common methods for the procedure that the surgeon can use are:
- Liposuction. When needing just a slight breast reduction, the surgeon might recommend that you get a liposuction. This procedure is less invasive and will only involve the removal of small amounts of fat. This method should be avoided if you have asymmetry or sagging breast issues or if you have large amounts of fatty tissues that have to be removed.
- Inverted-T (“anchor”) reduction. When using this method, surgeons will make incisions similar to those you’d find in lollipop reduction procedures, adding one more incision on the bottom crease of your breasts. This is the best surgery to be used on breasts that have noticeable asymmetry and sagging issues, as well as in the case of significant size reductions.
- Vertical (“lollipop”) reduction. During this method, the surgeon will make one vertical incision from the bottom of the areola, which is the circle of darker skin surrounding the nipple. The incision will go downwards until it reaches the bottom of the breast folds. Another incision is then made circumferential around the border of the areola. Surgeons will use this method when you have noticeable sagging and in the cases of moderate breast size reduction.
There is also the possibility of getting a combination of breast lift and augmentation during the same procedure. This is most often used for aesthetic reasons and involves adding implants to get the desired shape, combined with traditional breast reduction to lower the risk of future sagging.
Breast reduction surgeries’ purpose:
- breast reduction volume;
- a breasts’ more natural positioning (ptosis breast correction);
- areola reduction size and thereof a more natural position;
- getting local symmetry.
When is surgery indicated?
Reduction mammoplasty surgery should never be done to copy or expect an ideal image or to meet the desires or expectations of someone else, as it is a strictly individualized procedure. The plastic surgeon will determine what is the most appropriate breast reduction procedure for you after taking into account your expectations, wishes, and issues.
This procedure has medical indications in a lot of cases, especially when macro mania leads to issues like chest, shoulder, or spine pain, or when excessive weight causes an imbalance of the breasts, leading to deformities of the spine. Still, many of these surgical procedures are only done for aesthetic purposes.
Good candidates for breast reduction surgery
The ideal patient for this procedure is a healthy non-smoking person that doesn’t present distinguishable weight fluctuations.
To determine whether you’re a good candidate for breast reduction surgery, you should talk to a plastic surgeon. The big majority of individuals to have this surgery are people suffering from chronic back pain.
Breast surgeries in general are done on people of adult age, although there are some teens that qualify for the breast reduction procedure. This is the case of people with significant discomfort that lasts more than a year, as well as people that keep the same breast size for more than a year.
Requirements for patients
- large and heavy breasts produce unpleasant symptoms like sore back, shoulders, chest, neck, and spine deformities, irritation in the submammary fold (inframammary intertrigo), difficulty in deeply breathing;
- difficulty in finding suitable clothes;
- patient’s health is good;
- patient’s expectations are realistic.
Recovery from breast reduction surgery
Breast reduction is nothing to treat lightly as it is considered major surgery. This is why it is vital to plan ahead so that you have enough time for recovery and guarantee proper healing. If the surgery involves the insertion of drainage tubes, you will have to care for them until they are removed.
These tubes have the job of keeping fluid from collecting inside the breast, in the surgical area. They will usually be kept in place for several days following the procedure.
You will probably be able to go home on the same day when you have your surgery, as it is most of the time an outpatient procedure, you should still take at least one full week off of your work or school schedule.
You will be instructed by a healthcare professional or a doctor as to what prescription pain medications you should take for the next few days. If it is deemed necessary, you will receive instructions on the over-the-counter pills you will have to take for a week or two after the procedure. To reduce swelling and bleeding, the breasts will be bandaged and you will probably have to wear a surgical bra for a set amount of time.
You should expect pain, soreness, and swelling at first. You will be restricted to light walking for several weeks after the breast reduction surgery, although you will be able to resume your normal life within 3 to 4 weeks.
You will also need time until you will be able to experience the full effects of the procedure. They will start to feel lighter within the first 2 months of the surgery, but at first, due to them being swollen as they heal, they will feel bigger than they should. The breasts will fully soften within the first year of the surgery.
Potential risks and side effects to consider
The risks of breast reduction aren’t very different from what you’d face with other major surgery. There is a risk of bleeding, scarring, and even infection. You should also consider the side effects of anesthesia on your body, like sore throat, dry mouth, or nausea.
Among the most common side effects and risks to be prepared for when it comes to this type of surgery are also:
- difficulty with breastfeeding
- nipple shape changes
- asymmetry between the breasts
- stitches won’t dissolve. Instead, they will come out
- incisions that open especially at the bottom
- bumpy texture due to internal scars
- puckered-looking scars
- numbness in your nipples
There are also some rare cases in which the nipple and areola will go through something called nipple necrosis, a condition in which they don’t have enough blood flow and can’t survive.
You should also talk to your surgeon about the effect on the size and shape of your breasts after a future pregnancy. There are doctors that advise that people wait until they have finished having children before going for this surgery.
Finding a qualified surgeon
You should never make a decision as important as breast reduction without talking to an experienced and qualified surgeon first.
You should make sure that the prospective surgery is at least board certified, although positive reviews should also be considered before you opt for someone. They should have a big portfolio of before and after pictures where they can show you their level of expertise and work.
You can also find a reputable surgeon around you using a tool like this.
Before going for a surgeon, ask them these questions:
- Are you board certified?
- What is your education and training?
- Which breast reduction method you’re best at and which is best for my case?
- Is the facility where the procedure takes place accredited?
- Are there any side effects or risks I should consider?
- Can I see your before and after portfolio?
- How much will the procedure cost?
- Do you take insurance?
- Do you offer payment plans?