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Breast Reduction

Large and heavy breasts are one of the most common complaints that bring women to our plastic surgeon at Plastic Surgery of the Carolinas. Oversized breasts force women to carry excess weight that may cause neck, shoulder, and back pain, as well as soreness from bra straps digging into their shoulders, skin irritation or fungal infections beneath their breasts, and other general discomforts. Women with large breasts may feel insecure and awkward, and often find it hard to be physically active—not to mention the occasional wardrobe restrictions. By offering breast reduction surgery, Dr. Ram Kalus and Dr. Craig Rowin have helped countless women improve both the symptoms and appearance of overly large breasts for attractive and proportionate results.

What is Breast Reduction?

Breast reduction, or reduction mammaplasty, can be characterized as both a reconstructive and cosmetic surgery procedure; therefore, insurance will often cover breast reduction surgery. The procedure almost always includes a breast lift component, which can elevate the nipples to a more ideal, youthful, and attractive location. One valuable added benefit is that women who undergo breast reduction surgery often report that friends and family always seem to remark how they appear to have lost weight. This is not only factually correct, but a smaller and more proportionate breast size will visually suggest that a woman is more slender overall .

Who is a Candidate for Breast Reduction Surgery?

If you experience pain, musculoskeletal strain and discomfort, skin irritation, or restriction from physical activities due to excessive breast size, you may be a good candidate for breast reduction surgery. You may also be a good candidate if your breasts are asymmetrical, disproportionate to your body size, or are heavy and pendulous with nipples and areolas (the dark-pigmented skin encircling the nipple) that are either well below the inframammary fold (where the breast meets the upper tummy) or point downward.

For these concerns, breast reduction aims to make large breasts more manageable and proportionate to an individual’s body contour. The physical symptoms caused by large breasts can typically be reduced or largely eliminated by removing excess breast tissue, and/or skin for a beautiful result that is functional and aesthetic. During your consultation, Dr. Kalus or Dr. Rowin will carefully evaluate you and determine if you are a good candidate for surgery. He will then thoroughly explain all aspects of your surgery and recovery.

Should I Get a Breast Lift or Breast Reduction?

Because the benefits of both surgeries overlap in certain ways, many women inquire whether a breast lift or breast reduction would be ideal for their respective needs. While a breast reduction does include all of the benefits of a breast lift—such as elevated nipple and areola-complexes—women who are happy with their breast size and are primarily concerned with sagginess may be more ideal candidates for breast lift surgery. In contrast, individuals dissatisfied with their large and heavy breasts—who may also experience the associated physical stressors—should consider breast reduction, as this surgery usually involves components of a breast lift to some extent. After a consultation and physical examination, Dr. Kalus or Dr. Rowin can help you determine which procedure (or combination of procedures) will provide you with the most optimal results, according to your surgical goals.

What are the Benefits of a Breast Reduction?

Breast reduction surgery generally allows women to:

  • Obtain a breast size more proportional to their body
  • Find relief from the common physical burdens of overly large breasts, such as neck, back, and shoulder pain, and even trouble breathing during exercise
  • Achieve a rounder and more youthful, symmetrical breast shape
  • Elevate the position of the nipples and areolas
  • Reduce the size of the areolas, if necessary

Additional benefits of breast reduction typically include improved posture and the ability to engage in physical activities with less difficulty. This surgery can also allow women to find more form-fitting clothing as a result of improved body proportions.

How is the Breast Reduction Procedure Performed?

Breast reduction surgery begins with an incision that encircles the areola and continues below to the lower crease of the breast. After removing the tissue, skin, and unnecessary fat (sometimes with the addition of liposuction), one of our plastic surgeons will tighten the remaining skin around the newly reduced and contoured breast. Breast reduction surgery, which is usually performed on an outpatient basis, generally takes approximately three hours. A light general anesthesia is utilized from which you recover quickly and easily.

What is Recovery From Breast Reduction Like?

After the procedure, patients will need to wear a surgical bra or similar non-underwire sports bra for four weeks after surgery to support the breasts, minimize swelling, and encourage proper healing. Post-operative bruising and swelling is common, but generally dissipate as recovery progresses. Most patients can easily manage their discomfort with oral pain medication, oftentimes just Tylenol within a few days after surgery. While light daily activities and household chores can usually be resumed within a few days, at least one week of downtime is typically required to allow the body to heal. Aerobic activity and exercise should be avoided until such activity is cleared by Dr. Kalus or Dr. Rowin, generally about four weeks. By following your surgeon’s personalized post-operative instructions and getting plenty of rest, the recovery process can often be accelerated. Most patients can return to light duties within a week or two, and a regular schedule without restrictions within four weeks.

Following surgery, patients typically experience immense satisfaction from the benefits afforded by breast reduction. To discover what breast reduction can do for you, please feel free to peruse our before-and-after gallery of cosmetic results from previous patients.

Will There Be Any Visible Scarring with Breast Reduction Surgery?

With all surgeries involving incision placement, there is a possibility of visible scarring. However, the extent of scarring often depends on the type of incision used, the proficiency of your plastic surgeon, and your own genetics and type of scar your body is destined to produce. Dr. Kalus and Dr. Rowin utilize a technique that will allow you to heal with the best possible scar, which is easily concealed underneath a bra or bikini. Generally, these scars fade with time and often become barely noticeable.

How Much Does Breast Reduction Cost?

In most cases the cost of breast reduction will be covered by insurance. The only exception to this is in the event that the amount of breast tissue to be removed is considered “not medically necessary” or below the cut-off for the insurance company, in which case it would be considered a “cosmetic” procedure. A member of our team will provide you with a complete price breakdown of your anticipated expenses after a consultation with Dr. Kalus or Dr. Rowin.

To make the cost of breast reduction more manageable, our practice accepts payment through CareCredit®— a highly reputable healthcare lending company. For those who wish to pay for their surgery over time, CareCredit® offers qualified applicants a variety of low- to no-interest payment plans that can be chosen to accommodate your budgetary concerns. Please reach out to our office to learn more about the cost of breast reduction or our accepted payment methods.  

Does Insurance Cover Breast Reduction?

In many cases, yes. If large breasts are causing you breast, neck, or shoulder pain and physical stress, medical insurance may provide partial or full coverage for the cost of breast reduction under the condition that the procedure is a medical necessity. However, this depends on the terms of your insurance plan and there are usually specific criteria that must be met to obtain coverage. You can speak to your insurance agent to learn whether you qualify to have your breast reduction expenses covered. If there are out-of-pocket fees, Dr. Kalus and Dr. Rowin also accept plastic surgery financing through CareCredit®.  

Can I Breastfeed After Breast Reduction Surgery?

Most likely, the answer is yes. About 50% of new mothers who choose to breastfeed are unsuccessful in doing so, even if they have never had prior breast surgery of any kind. The type of breast reduction technique that our surgeons perform preserves the normal breast anatomy, such that the likelihood of interfering with breastfeeding is minimal. If you have recently nursed, it is generally recommended to delay breast reduction surgery until three months after you are finished with nursing. In terms of the breasts’ aesthetic appearance, breastfeeding can also cause additional skin laxity, a loss in volume, and breast sag. For these reasons, it is generally (but not always) a good idea to undergo breast reduction after breastfeeding is complete. The exception may be young women or adolescents who have never had children, but still have larger than desirable breasts. Many of our patients are adolescents and young adults, so the indication for breast reduction surgery is independent of age.

Is it Possible to Get a Breast Reduction Without Surgery?

Since effectively reducing the breast size involves the removal of excess skin, fat, and breast tissue, there is currently no non-surgical treatment that can alleviate the burdens of large and heavy breasts with the same results as the breast reduction procedure. While certain trends in breast reduction exercises have become prominent, these workouts are designed to achieve weight loss and may only target fatty tissue. Consequently, they are typically ineffective in creating a more proportionate breast size in relation to one’s body frame.

Patients considering breast reduction surgery should contact us today for more information. Dr. Kalus, Dr. Rowin, and the staff at Plastic Surgery of the Carolinas will be happy to address all questions about the breast reduction procedure, as well as financial/insurance matters, during a consultation.

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