By Dr. Constance M Chen
Many women with very large, heavy breasts suffer years of physical and social discomfort – neck, back, and shoulder pain, rashes under the breasts, difficulty finding clothes that fit, unwanted attention. Breast reduction surgery, or reduction mammoplasty, effectively addresses these problems and improves appearance. Breast tissue and breast skin is resected and the nipple-areola complex is repositioned higher on the chest wall, creating a smaller and more youthful breast.
Traditional reduction mammoplasty is performed using an “anchor incision,” which involves three distinct scars. One incision is made around the border of the areola, the second extends down vertically from the areola to the inframammary fold, and the third is a long horizontal incision along the bottom of the breast at the inframammary fold. The horizontal scar may extend beyond a bathing suit or bra and be visible. It is susceptible to complications while healing as well as to widening and becoming hypertrophic, or raised. These issues can be avoided by performing a short-scar or limited-scar reduction, which eliminates the horizontal scar.
Short-scar reduction uses a “lollipop incision” – around the areola and down to the inframammary fold. This technique eliminates the horizontal scar. The best technique for each woman is determined by the size and shape of her breasts and by the amount of reduction desired. Consideration may also be given to whether the woman will want to have children after surgery, as any surgery on the breast can compromise the ability to breast-feed.
Most patients who undergo a breast reduction leave the hospital the same day; some stay for one night. They should plan to recover at home for two weeks before returning to work and expect that it will be several additional weeks before returning to a fully active lifestyle.
A breast reduction can be performed on healthy women after the breasts are fully developed. Short-scar breast reduction minimizes scarring on the breast after surgery. Women don't have to endure the discomfort and emotional distress of large breasts that are out of proportion to their bodies.