Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Reductions

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A breast reduction is also called Reduction Mammaplasty. It is an operation that studies have shown to improve the quality of life in individuals suffering from breast hypertrophy. The psychological benefits of a breast reduction usually include increase in self-esteem and less depression. The functional (physical) improvements show to be less headaches, backaches, less musculoskeletal pain and improved ease breathing ability. The quality of life improvements spanning from psychological to physical provide immense benefits to those who go through the surgery.  Does insurance cover breast reductions?

The million dollar question is "does insurance cover breast reductions?". The simple answer is, it depends. It depends on your insurance and your medical history. Many people have made cases for themselves by showing chiropractic and physical therapy bills to insurance, essentially proving a long-standing medical need.

However, when insurance gets involved, your surgeon is working under insurance policies. This may be fine for you and if you are able to get your insurance to pay for it reimburse you, and it's the difference in you getting the surgery or not, go for it! The benefit in having insurance NOT involved is that when a surgeon is working under their own discretion and creating what they think will look best, without having to work under insurance guidelines, it is a bit more freeing and one can imagine the results may be better.

What is the scar like for a breast reduction?

The scaring for a breast reduction will depend on your body type, how you heal and other things unfortunately out of control for the patient. Also, the type of incision the surgeon does will influence this as well. To read more about types of incisions, wikipedia actually has a really great resource, here.

There is scar therapy that is available, one is called Embrace. See if your doctor offers if it this is something that is important to you. The scar is around the nipple and for some people who have more tissue removed, they do go horizontally as well. Even with that scar it isn't visible to the public in most cases. (Though we do all remember when Ariel Winter was on the red carpet at let her scar show proudly!)

What is the recovery like for a breast reduction?

For a standard breast reduction without an implant, the recovery is typically fairly "easy" and straightforward since all of the surgery is superficial and doesn't quite get into muscles. Expect to be in bed for approximately 4 to 7 days afterwards. By the way, this is basically a vacation compared to many other surgeries! Heavy lifting is not recommended for the first month after surgery.

Can you breastfeed after a breast reduction? 

Every individual is different and the circumstances surrounding each surgery is different. That being said, many women have been able to breastfeed at least somewhat after a breast reduction. The most sought after resource for this is the Breastfeeding After Reduction website and their Facebook group and Kelly Mom's list of resources, here. The nipple graft technique reduces lactational ability, while the lollipop incision keeps nerves and functionality intact.

Will my nipples loose sensitivity after a breast reduction? 

With the lollipop incision all nerves are left in tact, rather than with a nipple graft. Though for all techniques, sensitivity in nipples may decrease after the surgery. There may also be a chance for hypersensitivity, and a chance that one nipple will loose sensitivity and the other one still has it. Be prepared for all of these outcomes.

Will my breast be susceptible to size increases and decreases after a breast reduction?

Yes. A breast reduction is not permanent. Even after a breast reduction, the breasts can be susceptible to size increases and decreases with fluctuating weight gain and loss.

Conclusion

Breast reduction surgery, also called breast mammaplasty, is a surgery that should be considered when weighing the risks and benefits. The surgery itself is actually pretty simple and easy, and uncomplicated. The healing time isn't that bad, and the improvement in quality of life is immediate. Speak to your board certified plastic surgeon about your unique needs when considering this surgery.

References

Chao JD, Memmel HC, Redding JF, Egan L, Odom LC, Casas LA. Reduction mammaplasty is a functional operation, improving quality of life in symptomatic women: a prospective, single-center breast reduction outcome study. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2002 Dec;110(7) 1644-52; discussion 1653-4. doi:10.1097/00006534-200212000-00003. PMID: 12447043.

Kerrigan CL, Slezak SS. Evidence-based medicine: reduction mammaplasty. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2013 Dec;132(6) 1670-1683. doi:10.1097/prs.0b013e3182a807ec. PMID: 24281593.

Singh KA, Losken A. Additional benefits of reduction mammaplasty: a systematic review of the literature. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2012 Mar;129(3) 562-570. doi:10.1097/prs.0b013e31824129ee. PMID: 22090252.

This blog post is not intended to be medical advice and does not replace speaking to your own doctor about your health.