One of the cosmetic procedures that is growing in popularity is breast reduction. Breast reduction, technically known as a reduction mammoplasty, is a valuable option for women who struggle with having overly large breasts. There are a wide range of physical and emotional issues that can come with large breasts.
The weight of large, “pendulous” breasts can be a burden on posture as well as cause back and neck pain. Back pain is a result of the excessive curvature of the spine that comes from bearing the weight of large breasts. Large breasts can also make it difficult to find clothing that fits comfortably and can impede physical activity. Other issues that women with large breasts report are painful skin indentations from bra straps, skin irritation in the breast crease, stretched skin, stretched areolas, and breast ptosis.
The general area of concern for women with overly large breasts has to do with tissue problems of the nipple-areola complex. The nipple-areola complex (NAC) is an anatomical reference to the colored area (the areola) and nipple around the human breast. Women with heavy, enlarged breasts are categorized as having macromastia, which means a breast that weighs more than 500 grams. In more extreme cases where breasts are weighing in at more than 1,000 grams each, the condition is called gigantomastia. Large breasts typically develop during the beginning of puberty for girls, a phase called thelarche.
One of the most visibly striking issues associated with large breasts is ptosis. Breast ptosis, or sagging, is a condition that has been commonly linked to factors such as breastfeeding and lack of bra support. However, recent research suggests that breasts naturally sag due to gravity, which is a result of the skin’s natural loss of elasticity over time. Moreover, cigarette smoking has been shown to break down the skin’s protein elastin, which can worsen sagging. Ptosis is measured in four grades, from mild to severe, with the most severe cases having nipples that droop below the inframammary fold (where the breast meets the chest).
Pregnancy does have an effect on the size and shape of a woman’s breast. For women who experience multiple pregnancies, weight changes during pregnancy and the repeated engorgement of the milk glands change the size of the breasts. Many times, the experience permanently results in an enlargement in size of the breasts.
Breast reduction can reduce the size of a large breast with a few different strategies. The two main factors to consider are skin and fat. Reduction mammoplasty will generally require an incision around the breast to reduce excess skin and may be combined with liposuction to reduce fat. There are a number of incision types that are available for breast reduction. There is the circular pattern that can be made around the areola to hide scarring; a keyhole-shaped incision, which allows for excess skin to be removed; and an inverted-T-shaped incision for additional skin removal.
Women who are lactating or have recently undergone pregnancy should delay their procedure to ensure that the breast shape and size will no longer change. If you are concerned about maintaining breast sensitivity and the ability to breastfeed, both the keyhole incisions and inverted-T incisions are specifically designed to optimize breast functionality.
Each breast reduction is tailored for individual patient need and looks. Feel free to contact Dr. Berhane if you have any additional questions or concerns about breast reduction. During a consultation, you may also undergo an examination to determine what options are best suited for your needs. Contact us today for a consultation.