While many women are concerned with having breasts that are too small, other women have the opposite problem. Breasts that are disproportionately large and heavy can be both embarrassing and physically challenging, keeping you from participating in a variety of activities. Many women have difficulty finding clothing that fits correctly and avoid certain types of garments because they are worried the styles draw too much attention to their breasts. Massive, pendulous breasts can also create discomfort and strain in the neck, back and shoulders, or skin irritation due to the skin underneath the breasts rubbing and causing friction. Bra straps can create grooving into the shoulders on some patients.
There is no doubt that excessively large breasts can be a pain in the neck quite literally, as well as a significant cosmetic concern. Women with large breasts often think others focus on that feature and fail to notice the rest of their looks or personality. It can be difficult both in social and professional situations to wonder whether you are taken seriously despite your appearance.
Breast reduction, also called reduction mammoplasty when performed for medical reasons, is designed to bring balance and proportion back to the body profile, creating a more attractive, manageable size and shape to the breasts. Dr. Barrett tailors his breast reduction procedures to each patient to ensure the results are both natural and beautiful. Whether your breasts have always been larger than you like, or you have seen an increase in size due to pregnancy and breastfeeding, Dr. Barrett can help you achieve the curves that make you more comfortable with your body.
From Dr. Barrett: “My breast reduction patients are my happiest patients! While numerous plastic surgery procedures emphasize fuller, bustier physiques, our practice also caters to women interested in acquiring a more modest perky and natural breast result. Unfortunately, I am one of the few breast reduction specialists who uses a vertical incision (lollipop pattern) breast reduction technique instead of the anchor scar pattern, which reduces the amount of noticeable scarring after surgery. Every surgeon should use this technique for breast reductions. Each incision is also closed in five precise layers without using reactive sutures that can cause scarring. Lastly, I frequently use a SAFE liposuction technique to reduce additional fat around the stubborn axilla area and bra line.”
What is Breast Reduction Surgery?
Breast reduction is surgery that produces smaller, more shapely breasts by removing fat and glandular tissue while tightening skin around the new contour. The primary aim of breast reduction is to achieve a healthier proportion to the rest of the body, giving patients greater confidence in their appearance. The effects of this procedure can be quite dramatic and will last a lifetime in most cases. Patients may also enjoy almost instant relief from pain in the back, neck or shoulders while finding they can breathe easier without the additional weight on their front.
While breast reduction is usually performed under general anesthesia, it is done on an outpatient basis. This means you are comfortably asleep throughout your procedure and you will be able to return home several hours later to recover in the comfort of your own home. Recovery is often more comfortable than patients expect, and most are back to their daily routines within a week or less. Whether you choose breast reduction as a stand-alone procedure or prefer to combine it with a breast lift or another body contouring option, rest assured the results of your procedure will be both satisfying and long-lasting.
Is Breast Reduction Right for You?
Women who suffer from physical symptoms associated with their breast size or those who are unhappy with their appearance could benefit from this surgery. Physical symptoms might include:
- Neck, back and shoulder pain from the strain of the additional weight
- Numbness in the breasts, arms or fingers, due to compression on nerves
- Breathing problems because of heaviness on the chest wall
- Poor posture due to the excess weight in front
- Skin irritation underneath the breasts that includes rashes
- Skin indentations in the shoulders from weighted bra straps
- Persistent migraine headaches, as massive breasts have been linked to this condition
In some cases, the pain associated with large breasts can be severe enough to keep women from activities they would otherwise enjoy and impact their quality of life overall. In addition to the physical discomfort and medical problems caused by large breasts, this concern could also lead to social discomfort and low self-esteem. Women may also avoid activities or adopt a sedentary lifestyle due to embarrassment over their breast size or pain associated with these activities. The lack of exercise can lead to weight gain and a host of additional health concerns.
For optimal satisfaction with their surgery, it is essential for patients to understand the details and risks associated with the procedure and to have realistic expectations of what breast reduction can do for them. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are not candidates for breast reduction. Smokers will be asked to stop using cigarettes for six weeks before and after surgery to avoid nicotine-related complications. Smoking is particularly detrimental to incision healing, which is why you will need to refrain from cigarettes during your recovery process as well. Dr. Barrett will also consider the following factors when determining your candidacy for breast reduction include:
- Good general health without severe medical conditions or concerns
- Healthy reasons for wanting breast reduction (should be done for you and not to please someone else)
- A desire to participate in activities that are difficult due to the size of the breasts
- Willingness to combine reduction with a breast lift if that is recommended for best results
- Ability to take sufficient time off work and other activities for a safe and healthy recovery
Candidates for breast reduction are usually 18 or older since this is the time when the breasts are fully developed in most women. However, there may be some exceptions to that guideline that can be assessed by Dr. Barrett if the need arises. Your safety is Dr. Barrett’s top concern, and he will take ample time at your initial consultation to determine whether this surgery is appropriate for you and will meet your expectations and your aesthetic goals.
Making Your Choice in a Plastic Surgeon
When it comes to breast enhancement in Beverly Hills, you have many plastic surgeons that you could enlist for your surgery. However, if you want to ensure your surgeon takes the time necessary to provide you with a positive experience and the best possible results, Dr. Barrett stands out from the crowd. He chooses to see fewer patients each day so that he can get to know each woman’s concerns, desires and aesthetic goals.
Dr. Barrett will make sure you are comfortable with your decision to move forward with surgery and the techniques that will be used during your procedure. He is board-certified and brings extensive experience in plastic and reconstructive surgery to the operating table. His work in breast reconstruction qualifies him to tailor procedures to the unique desires and body proportions of each patient for an outcome that is distinctly yours and highly satisfying. After your procedure, Dr. Barrett will see you personally at regular intervals in his office to monitor your recovery process, answer questions and ensure no problems arise as you heal.
Benefits of Breast Reduction
Breast reduction is about more than just decreasing the size of the breasts. This procedure is designed to produce balance and proportion throughout the body, creating an upper body profile that is natural, youthful and beautiful. Some of the benefits you might see with your breast reduction include:
- Breasts that are a more proportionate size and shape to the rest of the body
- Symmetry between breasts that had different sizes, shapes or positions on the chest wall
- Nipples and areolas that have a natural size and location to the rest of the breast
- Better fit in clothing and ability to wear a wider variety of clothing styles
- Increased confidence in your appearance
- Ability to participate in exercise programs or other activities
Although breast reduction does offer a myriad of benefits to the right patient, it is essential to know that this is the proper procedure for you before moving forward with surgery. Dr. Barrett will carefully assess your issues, physical symptoms and desires for your appearance to determine whether breast reduction is the optimal choice for you.
Breast Reduction Options
Dr. Barrett begins his breast reduction procedures with an incision that encircles the areola, just inside the pigmented area so visible scarring with be minimal. A second incision can be added down the lower portion of the breast, which is known as a lollipop incision due to its shape. Dr. Barrett can perform nearly all his breast reductions through this lollipop technique without the need for additional incisions to access the breast skin and tissue. In addition to creating a more comfortable recovery process, fewer incisions also mean less scarring after surgery, ensuring a more desirable aesthetic result. The alternative is the anchor pattern reduction that can leave the breasts looking boxy and adds an additional horizontal scar component.
Adding a Breast Lift
If your breasts also droop and sag significantly, Dr. Barrett may recommend that you combine your breast reduction with a surgical lift. This procedure raises the breasts to a perkier, more youthful position on the chest wall, improving the projection of the breast at the same time. During a breast lift, Dr. Barrett may also reduce the size of the areola and nipple or raise their position to create a more natural, proportionate look to the overall breast. Because the incisions used for these two procedures are similar, you can reap the full benefits of both procedures without additional scarring or recovery time.
Rest assured that Dr. Barrett has a variety of techniques that will allow him to customize your surgical plan to your precise needs. His desire for each patient is to create a natural appearance that you are happy with for many years to come. No two women are precisely the same, and no two breast reductions will be performed in the exact same way to produce an individualized look and a natural body contour with each surgery.
Preparing for Your Surgery
The success of your breast reduction begins before your procedure even takes place. At your initial consultation, Dr. Barrett will provide you with the information necessary to prepare for your upcoming surgery. While the measurements and planning for this procedure can be extensive, Dr. Barrett will take all the time needed to create the surgical plan that will produce an optimal outcome for you. He will also provide you with a set of pre-operative instructions to make your surgery safe and your recovery process as comfortable as possible. These directions might include:
- Quit smoking a minimum of six weeks before your procedure to prevent potential complications
- Refrain from medications that could interfere with bleeding or your body’s ability to heal (this could include aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as some supplements and herbal remedies)
- Line up a friend or family member to drive you home from your surgery and remain with you for a day or two to care for you during the early part of the recovery process when you will likely want to rest much of the time
- Recruit help with your children and house for the first week or two so you can focus primarily on your recuperation process
- Fill prescriptions issued by Dr. Barrett before your surgery, so the medications are ready for you when you get home afterward
These basic steps can make a tremendous difference in your comfort level during the first few days after surgery, as well as ensuring a safer, smoother recovery process. Of course, if you have any questions as you get ready for your procedure, our staff welcomes your calls and are happy to provide you with any information you might need. We want you to come to your surgery feeling comfortable and confident of your decision and what lies ahead.
The Question of Coverage
Insurance coverage is something our patients often ask about when they come in for a breast reduction consultation. While this is one of the few cosmetic surgeries that can also be considered reconstructive and eligible for insurance coverage, obtaining that coverage can be a complicated process. Insurance providers typically want proof that the procedure is medically necessary, which means documentation of physical symptoms like back and neck pain before surgery. Companies also have a complicated formula they use to determine whether the breasts are currently large enough to earn a legitimate medical concern, which is based on current breast measurements as well as the amount of tissue to be removed.
If you are interested in obtaining insurance coverage for your breast reduction, we encourage you to talk to your insurance provider before your consultation to determine whether that is an option for you. If your company does provide this benefit, you will need to learn the steps required to obtain coverage, which usually means some treatment plan for pain and other symptoms before resorting to surgery. It is best to work through that process with your insurance provider first to ensure you receive benefits you might be entitled to under your policy when the time comes to move forward with your procedure.
Dr. Barrett recommends general anesthesia for breast reduction surgery, and he injects a pain-numbing medication into the surgery site to ensure your comfort throughout the procedure and when you first wake up from the anesthesia. Your incisions will be precisely placed as discussed during your consultation, through which Dr. Barrett will remove tissue and excess skin to create the desired breast size and shape. He prefers to use the vertical breast reduction technique with liposuction to reach excess fat in the axilla or bra line area. The entire surgery is a process that is performed meticulously to ensure evenness, a smooth contour, and symmetry between the two breasts. Dr. Barrett takes all the time necessary to produce results you will be happy with now and well into the future.
Breast reduction usually takes three to four hours to complete. If a lift is performed with the reduction procedure, it will be done at the same time. Once the breast is shaped correctly, Dr. Barrett will use layered suturing techniques that reduce the tension on the incision. This method is critical to ensuring a smooth healing process and minimize post-operative scarring. An external tape is applied over the sutures, and a surgical bra is sometimes put in place to give the breasts necessary support during recovery.
After Your Breast Reduction Surgery
You will return home the same day as your breast reduction, after spending a few hours in recovery where attentive staff will monitor you while you wake up from the anesthesia. You will need to have someone drive you home, and it is best to have that person remain with you for at least a day or so as the recovery process begins. Dr. Barrett will also send you home with post-operative instructions that will help you care for your incisions and maintain a level of comfort during the first few days.
Swelling and soreness are to be expected for the first few days after breast reduction. Dr. Barrett will give you a prescription for pain medication and an antibiotic for you to take immediately upon arriving home. We will encourage you to walk soon after your procedure and at least three times daily to promote healthy blood flow and lower your risk for blood clots. While patients usually return to work within a week, more strenuous exercise will be restricted longer to give your breasts ample opportunity to heal.
Dr. Barrett meets with all patients once a week for six weeks. During the first two weeks, he will remove stitches and tape the incisions. After the taping period is done, the patient will be prescribed a patented silicone scar gel to apply twice daily for 3 months to continue the healing process. Dr. Barrett will also meet with you at 3 and 6 months to make sure you are healing properly. Driving is not allowed until you stop taking pain medication, which is usually within a few days. Some exercise can be resumed within two weeks, but activities that involve bouncing or heavy lifting will be restricted for longer – generally at least four weeks to give the breasts sufficient time to heal fully. Since you will see Dr. Barrett regularly after your surgery, he will be able to advise you more specifically on when to return to specific activities, based on your recovery progress.
Greater Comfort, Enhanced Appearance
Results of breast reduction are noticeable immediately after surgery and will continue to improve as post-operative swelling and bruising subside. Patients typically experience an immediate relief when they wake up. Scars will fade with time and can usually be concealed by a bra, bathing suit or low-cut top. Dr. Barrett will also start you on his 12-week silicone scar gel program to encourage healthy healing and minimize scarring. It will take up to one full year for the scar to resolve and during that time, it is essential to protect the area from direct sun exposure. UV rays can affect healing and cause discoloration.
Your new breast size is one you will be able to enjoy for many years after your surgery. The outcome should relieve you of physical discomfort and boost your confidence in your appearance. Dr. Barrett has performed hundreds of these procedures and is highly qualified to help you achieve your precise goals in your breast enhancement. To find out more about this procedure, schedule your consultation with Dr. Barrett today. We are ready to book your appointment in our office at 310-598-2648.