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Breast Reduction Surgery

Breast reduction surgery is a procedure typically performed on women who desire to reduce the size of their breasts. In most cases, the procedure can reduce or eliminate the physical pain associated with large breasts such as back, shoulder and neck pain. Rashes and irritation under the breasts can be reduced or eliminated with surgery, and breast reduction can improve physical activities. In addition to the physical benefits of breast reduction, many women choose to have their bust minimized to improve their body image or reduce negative attention. Having a bust that is in proportion to the rest of the body and finding better fitting clothing often improves confidence in some women.

The procedure varies depending on the size and contour of each woman's breasts and how much tissue will be removed. In many cases, the nipple and areola are left intact while excess tissue and skin is removed. More invasive cases require the nipple and areola to be removed and reattached after the breasts are reduced. Women with large breasts that need to be reduced and lifted will usually need the nipple area removed and repositioned to achieve the desired effect. After the surgery, the entire chest area is bandaged and drainage tubes are inserted. Post-operative swelling may take months to subside, but at that time the final size and shape of the breasts can be observed. If the reduction in breast size can be accomplished by removal of only fat, liposuction can be performed. Recovery from breast reduction that only uses liposuction requires much less time.

Although breast reductions can be performed in teenagers, it is highly recommended to wait until adulthood. Around the age of 16, breast tissue is usually fully developed and surgery at this stage reduces the risk of damaging the breasts. Surgeons also recommend women wait until after they have finished having children and breastfeeding. Pregnancy can change the size of breasts and they may not return to their post-surgery size. Furthermore, some women that have breast reductions encounter problems with breastfeeding. Women must take both factors into account before proceeding with surgery.

The risks associated with breast reductions include bleeding, infection, decreased sensation, numbness and unsatisfactory appearance of the results. As with any surgical procedure, there are separate risk associated with the use of anesthesia. Scarring from the surgical incisions will occur, however various techniques are used to place incisions in discreet areas. Scars that remain after healing usually become less obvious over time, and are not noticeable while wearing undergarments or swimwear.

Breast reduction surgery can cost up to $10,000 or more. Costs vary depending on the surgeon and locality. In the rare instance of complications, the costs can further increase. Most insurance companies cover some or all of the costs associated with a breast reduction. However, the burden of proof is on the patient and surgeon to determine that it is a medically necessary procedure, not purely cosmetic. This often involves providing the insurance company with pictures of rashes and documentation of back, shoulder or neck pain attributed to large breasts.

The decision to have breast reduction surgery should be made after thoroughly considering the risks and benefits, and consulting an experienced surgeon. Many women find their quality of life is dramatically improved by alleviating the chronic pain that can be associated with large breasts.