Some women are actually born with breasts that are too large. They can not only throw off the aesthetic contour of your torso, making you look heavier than you are, but having overly large breasts can be emotionally traumatizing. Most potential breast reduction patients developed their breasts early. They spent much of their youth, when kids can be so cruel, being teased and made to feel incredibly self-conscious. Heavy, pendulous breasts may also lead to significant physical issues such as back, neck and shoulder pain. A breast reduction is a surgical procedure to reduce the size of your breasts with a secondary benefit of improving their overall shape and contour. The result is a chest that is lifted and more proportional to the rest of your body.
Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Sean Doherty is an expert in all aspects of breast surgery. He loves his job, particularly breast reduction surgery, because it is one of those procedures that can totally transform a patient’s life. In fact, breast reduction surgery has one of the highest patient satisfaction ratings of any cosmetic procedure.
*Each patient is unique and individual results may vary
Breast Reduction Surgery Consultation
If you are bothered by the size and/or shape of your breasts, schedule a breast reduction consultation with Dr. Doherty at one of his Boston area offices to be assessed in person. Any cosmetic procedure must be tailored to the individual anatomy of the patient. This is crucial for a successful outcome. During your meeting, Dr. Doherty will listen carefully to what bothers you about your breasts. For some patients, it’s the overall size. For others who may have asymmetrical breasts, it’s the shape. For most, it’s a combination of the two. Next, he will perform a thorough physical exam to assess your nipple position in relation to the inframammary fold or crease beneath your breast, skin tone and elasticity as well as the “weight” of your breast tissue. Together, you will come up with a treatment plan that suits your body, your goals and your lifestyle.
Who is an Ideal Candidate for a Breast Reduction?
Any patient who is in good overall health, close to their ideal weight, doesn’t smoke and is self-conscious about the size and shape of her breasts may be a candidate for a breast reduction. Most breast reduction patients experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- persistent back, neck or shoulder pain
- frequent headaches
- shoulder grooving or indentations caused by tight bra straps
- skin irritation underneath your breasts
- redness or chaffing along your bra strap lines
- reluctance to participate in certain activities such as sports
- difficulty finding clothes that fit or flatter your chest
- debilitating self-consciousness
Breast Reduction Procedure
Dr. Doherty’s goal with any breast reduction surgery is to strategically excise the exact right amount of skin, breast tissue and fat in order to create your more appropriately sized breasts. He begins by making an anchor incision that goes around the areola, down the lower front of the breast, and along the inframammary fold or crease beneath your breast. He then removes your excess fat and breast tissue. This will often entail taking more from one side than the other in order to address any breast asymmetry.
Almost all women have one breast that is bigger than the other or one that sits a little higher than the other. One of the many advantages of a breast reduction is that it allows the surgeon to create a pair of breasts that are more evenly matched. Perfect symmetry can never be attained, but Dr. Doherty will try to come as close as he can to it. Once Dr. Doherty has achieved the right symmetry and size, he will tighten up your breast envelope. This lifts the breasts to a higher point on your chest wall. He will then remove all excess skin and reposition your nipple so that it is centered on your newly relocated breast mound. The nipple and areola stay attached to your body during this whole process. Last, he will close your incisions.
Breast Reduction Scars Totally Worth It
As with any surgery, the scars from a breast reduction will be permanent. This can sound worse than it actually is. For starters, the scar underneath the breast is hidden in the fold of your breast. In addition, scars on the breast heal incredibly well. Dr. Doherty is a perfectionist who utilizes precise surgical techniques to reduce any tension on the skin that can lead to a thick or heavy scar.
You will ultimately be able to wear your choice of lingerie, swimsuit, or low-cut gowns with tolerable scars. However, immediately following your surgery, your scars will be very dynamic. They may be slightly raised, and red or pink in color. Don’t panic. This will last for at least 4-6 weeks before beginning to fade. Generally, at three weeks post-surgery, Dr. Doherty has his breast reduction patients start using a silicone topical treatment such as Silagen or Biocorneum and consider starting an energy-based treatment like laser resurfacing or micro-needling to help make the best scar possible. His goal is for your incision lines to be as smooth and inconspicuous as possible. Many patients either don’t notice or aren’t even bothered by their incision lines a year out from their surgery.
Breast Reduction Recovery
Dr. Doherty performs his breast reduction surgeries under general anesthesia at a local hospital or accredited surgical facility. Some patients may wish to recover overnight in the hospital, but most go home that same day. Dr. Doherty likes to see his breast reduction patients within 48 hours after surgery to check that all is healing well. He will prescribe antibiotics and pain medicine for the first few days.
After your breast reduction procedure, your chest will be wrapped in gauze. You will have most likely have two drains, one on either side of your chest. These are typically removed at the first post-operative visit. You will be sore for the first few days after your surgery and will need to be conscious about limiting your upper body movement for the first 2-3 weeks so no reaching across the table for the salt or lifting anything heavier than a couple of pounds. Most patients describe their recovery as more uncomfortable than painful and manage this post-operative discomfort with over the counter medications. Patients will not be driving for at least the first 7-10 days and some require assistance with child-care.
There will be swelling and bruising for the first two weeks, but patients can typically return to most normal activities at 2 weeks after surgery. Breast reduction patients will need to wear a surgical bra for compression for the first week after the initial bandages are removed. Patients may begin light exercise and cardio at 2 weeks after surgery, and more aggressive workouts at 3 weeks. However, Dr. Doherty asks that his breast reduction patients wait at least 4-6 weeks before returning to upper body workouts.
While it may take anywhere from 3-6 months for your swelling to completely resolve, you will notice an improvement in your contour immediately.
To find out more about a breast reduction with Dr. Sean Doherty at his Boston or Brookline office, contact us today or call (617) 935-0801 to schedule a consultation.
It will depend on your goals and your anatomy. Most patients are so frustrated and bothered by their large breasts that they just want them to be small. However, it’s never a good idea to focus on a cup size. The important thing is to create breasts that are proportional to your body and your anatomy. This will help to rejuvenate your entire torso. Since Dr. Doherty takes a 360° approach with every cosmetic procedure that he performs, this is always his ultimate goal—smaller breasts that are proportional to your body.
If your weight remains stable, no. Once the excess breast tissue is gone, it’s gone for good. However, the remaining fat cells in your breasts can grow larger if you gain more than about 10 pounds. This may push you into a bigger bra size, but your actual breast volume will stay relatively stable. Patients that get pregnant after a breast reduction do report changes to their breasts.
Every patient is different. Most patients retain a majority of nipple sensation although generally, your nipples may not be as sensitive as they were before surgery. The heaviest scarring is in the bottom half of the breast so this area will feel numb for a while, but the nipple and top half of the breast do typically return to normal.
The former only addresses the shape of the breast, not the size. A breast reduction will also reduce your actual breast volume in addition to improving their shape. A breast reduction tends to have a medical indication with anticipated improved symptoms.
Again, it depends on the patient. Most patients can breastfeed after their surgery, but some may have a challenge. If you are dead set on breastfeeding, you may want to wait to have your breast reduction until after you finish having children.
While some insurance companies do cover a breast reduction procedure if you have demonstratable symptoms and enough breast volume removed to meet their criteria, Dr. Doherty does not participate in any insurance programs.
I am worried about the scars. Will they be really noticeable?
If you talk to any breast reduction patient, she will tell you that the scars are completely worth it. And even in those patients who are genetically inclined towards heavy scars, they are still happy that they had the procedure. The benefits far outweigh the scars. We do everything we can to minimize scar, but they are inevitable. For patients who are truly upset with the idea of scars, they are most likely not ready for breast surgery.
Is the recovery painful?
Not really. Most patients report more of an ache for the first week or so. Most patients don’t even need any prescription pain medications after the first few days. It is uncomfortable. But if you follow Dr. Doherty’s post-op instructions carefully and limit your upper body movements, you will be fine. The reduction in symptoms from the heavy breasts makes the recovery very tolerable to patients.