What Is Breast Reduction?
Women who are born with large pendulous breasts, or who have developed them over time due to pregnancy or other factors, can have substantial health concerns. Large breasts can result in neck, back, or shoulder pain, as well as skin irritation. In addition, grooves from bra straps can develop. For these women, breast reduction surgery can help eliminate the associated pain, improve breast shape and size, and make the breasts more proportionate in relation to the body.
A reduction mammoplasty (i.e. breast reduction) is performed by removing the excess glandular breast tissue and skin as well as relocating the nipple to a higher position. There are a number of plastic surgeons who perform breast reductions; however, not all breast reduction techniques are the same. Some of the traditional techniques for breast reduction can result in a boxy shape or a “bottoming out” of the breast with time, and they can create large scars or lead to the loss of nipple sensation. Our plastic surgeons at Florida Plastic Surgery Group have experience with the latest techniques that can minimize scarring, allow the breasts to have more projection, last longer without bottoming out, have a natural shape, and maintain nipple sensation.
Our cosmetic surgery team will guide you through the process. At Florida Plastic Surgery Group, we believe that patients, their desires, and anatomies are all unique. Therefore, our doctors evaluate each patient and create a customized surgical plan for all individuals who undergo this treatment.
What Are the Benefits of Breast Reduction?
Breast reduction surgery offers many advantages for women who have breasts that are too large for their body frames. Breast reduction is capable of:
- Decreasing the size of the breasts for results that are more balanced and proportionate to the body
- Relieving physical discomfort due to overly large breasts
- Reducing pain in areas such as the neck, back, and shoulders
- Diminishing skin rashes under the breasts
- Reducing breast ptosis (sagging)
- Minimizing the likelihood of bra-strap indentations
- Improving the chances of comfortably fitting into desired clothing
- Reducing self-consciousness about the appearance of the breasts
This procedure has helped many women address a very common concern and achieve improved breast shape and symmetry. Breast reduction can also yield certain benefits of a breast lift for many patients, diminishing signs of sagginess and giving the breasts a firmer, more youthful appearance.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Breast Reduction?
Women who suffer with back, neck, and/or shoulder pain as a result of large pendulous breasts are often excellent candidates for breast reduction surgery, as well as those who simply want an effective solution for breasts that are excessively large for their bodies. Individuals who are in relatively good overall health and have reasonable expectations for the outcome of breast reduction surgery are typically good candidates for the procedure. Patients should also be at their ideal weight (or close to their ideal weight) at the time of surgery since weight loss after the treatment can negatively affect the aesthetic results.
It is important to note that smoking can result in significant complications, including loss of the nipple-areola complex as well as wound-healing problems due to the decrease in circulation to the skin. Therefore, we ask all patients undergoing breast reduction surgery to quit smoking for one month prior to surgery and at least one month after surgery.
Breast Reduction and Breastfeeding
While there is a substantial number of women who are not naturally able to breastfeed regardless of whether they have breast surgery, individuals who have that ability before a breast reduction procedure should have it afterward, as well. However, this will ultimately depend on the particular breast reduction technique that is utilized. For those who would like to retain their ability to breastfeed, the surgical technique should be one that does not modify the milk ducts or other anatomical areas that may affect future breastfeeding. It is important to discuss your wishes in this regard with our plastic surgeon during the initial consultation. He will talk with you about your options and create a treatment plan with your goals in mind.
How Is the Breast Reduction Procedure Performed?
Breast reduction surgery is performed by making incisions around the nipple-areola complex and below in a vertical direction. The nipple is left attached to the breast tissue so that the blood vessels and nerves going to the nipple are preserved. The excess skin and breast tissue is removed, and the breasts are contoured to create a natural shape that is proportionate with the rest of your body. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia.
What Can I Expect During Breast Reduction Recovery?
Patients should wear a supportive bra for three to four weeks after the operation. Under most circumstances, no drains are used after surgery and all the sutures are dissolvable. Many patients are able to resume normal daily routines approximately two weeks following surgery; however, this will depend on each patient’s unique needs during the recovery process. Lifting of heavy objects and strenuous exercise/activities should be avoided for several weeks after surgery, or until our surgeon recommends otherwise.
Will I Have Breast Reduction Scars?
The location and extent of scarring will ultimately depend on the specific breast reduction technique that is used in the procedure. As the incision begins to heal (i.e. after three weeks), there are a number of things you can do to help minimize the size and appearance of the scar. Massaging the scar with firm finger pressure can help it blend in and decrease the swelling. In addition, paper tape and silicone gel sheeting have both been shown to help minimize the scars with time. Some commercially available products such as Mederma® or vitamin E may also have some benefit. While it is not possible to have surgical breast reduction without scars resulting from the procedure, our plastic surgeons strive to place incisions in areas that allow residual scarring to be easily concealed under clothing (even bathing suits).
Is a Breast Reduction without Surgery Possible?
For some individuals, reducing the size of their breasts to some degree may be possible through diet and exercise alone. This can typically only be effective for those who have overly large breasts due to excess fat as opposed to glandular tissue. If the breasts are enlarged due to excess glandular tissue, diet and breast reduction exercises will likely not have an effect, and surgery may be the only option to significantly reduce breast size.
How Much Does Breast Reduction Cost?
Breast reduction surgery is a customized procedure that is different for each patient; therefore, the total cost of breast reduction surgery varies among individuals. Factors that are taken into account for the overall price of breast reduction surgery include the surgeon’s fee, the complexity of the surgery and the techniques that are used, fees for the operating facility and for anesthesia services, the geographic region for which the practice is located, and other components. The price of breast reduction surgery at our practice typically starts at about $7,999. A member of our team here at Florida Plastic Surgery Group will meet with you once your treatment plan is developed and produce a total cost estimate of the procedure.
Insurance and Financing Options
Breast reductions can often be covered by insurance, but pre-authorization from your insurance company is required. Our staff will talk with you about your options and act as your advocate to the insurance company; however, it’s important to remember that the final decision on coverage will rest with the insurance company. For patients who would like to explore other payment options, we accept a variety of payment methods and we work with plastic surgery financing companies such as CareCredit® and ALPHAEON™ CREDIT. These reputable lending agencies offer a range of flexible monthly payment plans for qualified applicants. Our office can help you find the way to pay for your breast reduction procedure that is most convenient for your budget.
Is Breast Reduction Covered By Insurance?
In some cases, insurance may offer coverage or partial coverage for breast reduction that is deemed medically necessary. Although insurance companies and policies vary, some of the symptoms of overly large breasts that may result in breast reduction surgery being designated a medically necessary treatment include:
- Chronic breast pain due to the excessive weight of the breasts
- Grooving in the shoulders from bra straps
- Severe impairment of physical activity
- Severe rashes that are unresponsive to medical care
- Kyphosis – A condition that creates a rounding of the spine, which can be due to breast weight
- Headache, neck, and back pain
It’s important to note that insurance coverage greatly varies depending on the company and the policy. We recommend contacting your insurance provider and inquiring as to whether breast reduction is covered under your plan. Many insurance companies have rules that require patients to attempt more conservative therapies for three months prior to breast reduction surgery in order to meet the guidelines for coverage. These therapies may include massage therapy, pain management, physical therapy, or others. It is also very important to retain your documentation throughout these processes so that it can be presented to the insurance company.
The Schnur Scale
Insurance companies may require a certain amount of breast tissue to be removed in order to determine that the procedure is medically necessary. The Schnur Sliding Scale is a metric tool that can help plastic surgeons calculate the amount of breast tissue that will need to be removed from each breast to successfully meet the patient’s needs. The scale can determine a ratio of breast tissue designated for removal in comparison to the individual’s weight, height, and skin surface. The body surface area is correlative to the patient’s body mass index (BMI). Essentially, patients who are classified as “overweight” based on their BMI may need more volume removed from the breasts. If the calculation of body surface area and the weight of breast tissue targeted for removal falls below a certain percentage, the surgery may be considered cosmetic rather than medically necessary. If it is higher than a certain percentage, the surgery may be deemed medically necessary if other criteria are met. The following link will take you to a calculator that can give you an idea as to what your body surface area is.
The grid below represents the Schnur Sliding Scale. For your reference, 500g (grams) is just over one pound of tissue. Once you have been evaluated in-person, we will be able to talk with you about your specific needs and provide you with more details about what you can expect from your customized breast surgery procedure.
Contact Us for More Information on Breast Reduction Surgery
If you are uncomfortable due to excessively large breasts, our doctors at Florida Plastic Surgery Group can help. To learn more about this very popular procedure – a procedure that can provide life-changing results – please contact our office today.