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What's It Like: To get a breast reduction

What's It Like: A breast reduction, also known as a reduction mammaplasty, is generally performed to relieve symptoms caused by large breasts.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: May 27, 2012

Why get a breast reduction?

A breast reduction, also known as a reduction mammaplasty, is generally performed to relieve symptoms caused by large breasts.

Having large breasts can affect how a woman leads her day-to-day life. For example, some women experience headaches while others might suffer from chronic back, shoulder or neck pain. Others might have skin problems under their breasts. Women with large breasts sometimes report that their bra straps leave deep marks on their shoulders from the pressure and weight. Carrying the weight from large breasts can be debilitating.

Posture is often a challenge for women with large breasts. Also, these women might be restricted with what kind of activities they can participate in. It's also difficult to find clothes that fit properly.

A woman can get breast reductions at any age, pending what your doctor or surgeon says. Some organizations and surgeons recommend waiting until the breasts have finished developing.

Also, women who plan to nurse a child after a breast reduction should talk with their doctor about complications that might arise in regards to breast feeding.

Some insurance companies will cover breast reductions when they're found to be medically necessary. However, getting the surgery covered can be complicated. It usually involves working with a doctor to document your symptoms. Before being approved for surgery, some insurance companies might require you to try therapeutic measures. For example, you might be asked to try physical therapy or anti-inflammatory drugs to see whether those measures relieve symptoms.

Some companies will cover the surgery if a surgeon would be required to remove more than one pound of tissue from each breast. Also, some insurance companies have age restrictions on when the surgery can be performed.

What happens when you get a breast reduction?

Precisely how the surgery is performed will vary from surgeon to surgeon, for plastic surgeons have their own techniques. It's best to talk about this with your surgeon beforehand.

During the surgery, you will likely be put under. Most often, the surgeon will make a few cuts around and near the areola. After the incisions are made, the surgeon will reposition the nipple and remove and shape fat, skin and tissue.

The surgeon will relocate your nipples to a central location. For some women, the surgeon won't have to remove the nipples entirely. However, for women who are in the largest breasts categories, the surgeon might use a technique known as a free nipple graft to remove the nipples entirely and place them back on the reduced breast.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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