Breast Reduction and Breast Lift Questions

Serving Chattanooga, Tennessee

The Plastic Surgery Group, P.C., in Chattanooga, Tennessee offers the latest plastic surgery procedures, including breast reduction and breast lifts.

1. What is the difference in a breast reduction and a breast lift?

Breast reduction is a procedure performed for women with large breasts who are typically experiencing problems with back, neck, and shoulder pain. They are usually disproportionately large in the chest. A reduction will remove approximately 1-2 lbs. of tissue per breast.

Breast lift procedures are performed when gravity or the effect of aging and maturity have caused breasts to become droopy or ptotic. The nipple position in a youthful and shapely breast is typically above the breast crease when standing upright. With changes in breast tissue related to maturity, weight, childbirth, breast feeding, or genetics, women with C or greater cup size breasts will oftentimes experience significant droop. Breast lift procedures are performed to improve the aesthetics without changing the volume.

2. Will breast reduction help the pain in my neck, back and shoulders?

Women with macromastia (large breasts) often have had significant problems with neck, back, shoulder and breast pain, as well as postural low back pain since puberty or childbirth. The vast majority of women who undergo breast reduction will achieve immediate symptomatic relief of these discomforts.

3. At what age can breast reduction be performed and will my breasts grow again?

Breast reduction can be performed at any age where symptomatic macromastia becomes apparent. The majority of patients are between the ages of 20-40; however, young women who have very early and massive breast development may consider reduction in their teenage years. Most breast growth occurs after puberty and with childbirth. However, breasts may continue to grow as you become older and fat replaces breast tissue. Due to hormonal changes breasts can slowly enlarge even in the 50´s, 60´s and 70´s. A breast reduction is easily performed in older patients with no significant additional risks.

4. How do I determine the size I should be?

The amount of tissue removed in order to achieve symptomatic relief can be as little as a pound (approximately 400 grams). Your surgeon will discuss with you how much tissue should be removed in order to provide relief of symptoms yet allow your shape to be proportional with the rest of your body. The goal is to provide relief from symptoms but have an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

5. Will my insurance cover breast reduction surgery?

Breast reduction has been one of the more commonly performed procedures in plastic surgery due to the tremendous benefit patients receive; however, increasingly restrictive insurance guidelines have hurt some patient´s ability to receive financial help. Guidelines vary from insurance carrier to carrier, so, in each instance, supporting documentation with regard to problems you are experiencing will be sent to your insurance company asking for a predetermination of coverage. These problems may include back, neck, and shoulder pain, a rash under the breasts, grooving in the shoulder area, tension headaches or even numbness in the arms and hands. This information - along with an estimate of the amount of tissue to be removed and supporting documents from your primary care physician, orthopaedic surgeon or chiropractor - will be submitted for review. Some insurance carriers may require that you are within 20‰ of ideal body weight or that a specific amount of tissue be removed.

6. Where is the surgery performed and do I have to be put to sleep? Will I have sutures and dressings?

Breast reduction or breast lift surgery can be performed as an outpatient but may require a 23-hour observation period following surgery. However, some patients are sent home on the same day as surgery with appropriate precautions and medications. The procedure is somewhat uncomfortable due to the manipulation and rearranging of the skin, fat, and breast tissue on the chest and therefore requires either general or IV sedation. The procedure usually takes 2-4 hours. Patients usually tolerate breast procedures well.

The majority of breast reduction and breast lift patients will have multiple sutures; however, most, if not all, will be dissolvable. If this is the case, no sutures will be visible or need to be removed. Infrequently, there are several sutures that are not dissolvable and they will be removed during your follow-up visit to the office.

Steri-strips will cover all incisions followed by a fluffy gauze dressing and a protective surgery bra with Velcro in the front for easy removal. At 48 hours you will do the initial dressing change and first shower but you will leave the steri-strips in place and replace the bra without dressings. Steri-strips will make the incisions mature much faster and become less noticeable sooner. At any time any drainage occurs, a light dressing may be necessary to prevent staining of your undergarments.

7. When can I shower and wear my own bra?

You may usually shower 48 hours after the procedure; however, bathing or hot tubs are discouraged until healing is complete. In the shower, all incisions are protected with steri-strips and the breasts can be washed with a mild soap such as Dial without fear of causing harm, wound healing problems or infection.

You will be placed in a surgical bra immediately following surgery and will wear this bra for 1-2 weeks. At that time, you may change to a soft sports-type bra that will place even pressure throughout the operated breasts. Underwire or push-up bras are discouraged until directed by your physician.

8. What are my limitations after breast reduction or breast lift surgery; when do I return to the office; and when can I return to work?

You will return to the office for a follow-up visit one week after surgery. If healing is progressing as expected, then you will be seen again in approximately one month to six weeks.

Although breast procedures are fairly easily tolerated, pain medication will be necessary over the first 24-48 hours; however, rapid resolution of pain should be expected and a gradual resumption of normal activities during the first week or two following surgery. Depending on your level of activity and job requirements, you could return to work after approximately one week. Patients will need to avoid overexertion, repetitive rubbing or pressure on the breast area. Vigorous exercise such as aerobics or jogging is discouraged for approximately 3-4 weeks, but walking and lighter activity can be resumed within two weeks after surgery.

9. Can I return to the tanning bed after breast reduction or breast lift surgery?

Precautions will need to be taken with the use of a tanning bed. Your breasts are oftentimes anesthetic or numb during the postoperative period. This numbness or tingling may continue for weeks or even months and your sensitivity to temperature and heat will be altered in this area. You should not go to the tanning bed for at least one month following surgery. After that, incisions should be protected for 3-4 months with sunscreen, so that your healing scars do not become permanently darkened.

10. Can I breast feed after having breast reduction or breast lift surgery?

If breast reductions and breast lift procedures are performed using an inferior or central pedicle technique, then it is very likely that you will be able to breast feed after childbirth. With other reduction or mastopexy techniques, breast feeding may not be possible. You should discuss your desire to breast feed with your surgeon before you have the procedure performed.

The Plastic Surgery Group, P.C., in Chattanooga, Tennessee offers the latest plastic surgery procedures, including breast reductions and breast lifts . For more information on the plastic surgery procedures we offer, visit our plastic surgery procedures page or call our plastic surgery staff at (423) 756-7134 or (800) 634-3334. You can also e-mail us your questions and we will be in touch with you shortly.