What Is a Breast Reduction?
West County Plastic Surgeons specializes in breast reduction and laser-assisted breast reduction surgery to help St. Louis women lift and reduce the size of their breasts. This procedure can minimize the most common complaints associated with large, heavy breasts: neck and back pain, shoulder-strap grooving, skin irritation and sweating on the undersurface of the breasts. Although we often perform breast reduction for functional reasons, our patients also enjoy a cosmetic benefit, as the standard breast-reduction operation lifts the breasts into a more youthful, attractive position.
All breast reductions include an incision around the areola (the pigmented circle that surrounds the nipple) and a vertical scar from the areola to the base of the breast. This is called a vertical breast reduction. For our patients with larger breasts, the procedure may include an incision along the base of the breast – often called a Weiss-pattern. These incisions are necessary to remove all of the loose skin that surrounds the extra breast tissue.
To schedule your consultation for breast reduction, contact our St. Louis office by phoning 314-996-8800, requesting your consultation online, or emailing us today.
A graphical illustration of breast reduction surgical styles
Breast Reduction: What You Should Know
When does insurance pay for this procedure? The exact criteria insurance companies use to determine whether to cover a breast reduction vary considerably. In general, however, insurance companies are more likely to cover breast reduction for our patients who have extremely large breasts for their body weight and who demonstrate symptoms related to their condition. Some companies require a supportive letter from a long-term primary care doctor to document that a physician who has known the patient believes that this procedure will help alleviate those symptoms.
Overweight patients often must demonstrate that they have made attempts to lose weight through adequate diet and exercise. Sometimes, a body mass index (BMI) restriction is imposed so that only women who are of normal body weight qualify for this procedure. In addition, some insurance companies will cover a breast reduction for our patients only if they can verify that one of our plastic surgeons will be able to remove a certain weight of breast tissue. Frequently, companies review photographs, the applicant’s height and weight, and specific breast measurements before they determine whether to cover a breast reduction. We also advise our Saint Louis patients to find out if their insurance company negotiates specific contracts with their employer because, on occasion, access may be excluded.
What if my insurance company denies my request for coverage? Denials can be sometimes be appealed. However, if insurance does not cover breast reduction, it can still be performed as a cosmetic procedure. Patients who want a breast lift and only a small reduction in volume are excellent candidates.
Click here to view a video on breast reduction surgery.
Length of procedure: 90 minutes to 4 hours, depending on the size of the breasts.
Estimated recovery time: Patients can expect to return to work after 2 to 3 weeks, and they should avoid vigorous activities for 4 to 6 weeks. Visible bruising should clear up within 2 to 3 weeks, and swelling begins to resolve within 3 to 4 weeks. Drain tubes may be used and may remain for a couple of days to 2 weeks, depending on the size of the reduction. To learn how to prepare for this procedure and what to expect afterwards, click here to download our patient instructions.
Side effects: Common side effects include bruising and swelling. The shape of the breast may change over time, and the final result may not be realized for a few months. Delayed wound healing may occur, especially in those with large reductions, diabetic patients, and patients who have undergone radiation. Infections and hard lumps in the breast called fat necrosis can develop, but usually resolve on their own. Click here to download a detailed consent form from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons that lists the risks and benefits of this surgery.
Before-and-after photos of breast reduction results: Click here
Associated Procedures to Complement Breast Reduction
Some of patients elect to combine breast reduction with the following kinds of procedures to achieve optimal results:
- Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty). Frequently, patients wishing to improve the contour of their abdomen choose to have an abdominoplasty, or “tummy tuck” surgery. This procedure is best for people who have lost a significant amount of weight and now have loose abdominal skin and lack of abdominal muscle tone. Women who are dissatisfied with their post-pregnancy shape often elect to have a tummy tuck procedure as a part of an overall “mommy makeover.” Our plastic surgeons can combine breast reduction and “mommy makeover” procedures safely and effectively.
- Liposuction. Removal of fat from the armpit region, sides, thighs, back, and buttocks with standard tumescent liposuction, ultrasonic-assisted liposuction, or SMART laser-assisted liposuction provides a nice complement to refining the breasts with a breast reduction.
Breast reduction and laser-assisted breast reduction can be performed with other procedures efficiently and safely in our Saint Louis surgical center. To schedule your consultation for breast reduction, or a combined reduction with tummy tuck or liposuction, contact our St. Louis office by phoning 314-996-8800, requesting your consultation online, or emailing us today.