Breast reduction surgery, or mammaplasty, is a procedure that removes excess fat, skin and glandular tissue from breasts that appear over large or out of proportion with the rest of the body, or which cause back pain or shoulder pain. Many people with heavy breasts also have deep troughs in the shoulder tissue where bra straps have exerted significant pressure.
Breast reduction surgery uses an incision to access the tissue inside the breast so it can be removed. The incision is typically located on one of three areas:
The placement and shape of the incision will depend on the amount of tissue being removed, the anatomy of the breast and other factors. Once the incision has been made, excess tissue will be removed from the breast and the remaining tissue will be carefully reshaped. The areola will be reduced in size if necessary, and the nipple will be repositioned. The incision will be closed in layers using very small sutures or stitches to help the area heal properly and to stabilize the tissue in its new shape. Surgical tape or glue may be used to close the upper layers of skin, and a compression bandage may also be used to reduce swelling. Sometimes liposuction will be performed at the same time as a breast reduction to remove excessive amounts of fat. Either sedation or general anesthesia may be used for the procedure, which can be performed on an outpatient basis.
During recovery, there will be some discomfort and swelling as the tissue remodels itself in its new location. Wearing a form-fitting sports bra or compression garment can help reduce swelling and support tissues as they heal. Most women can resume many of their normal activities within a few days, with complete healing taking a few weeks.
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