Breast reduction is a wonderful surgery for patients who have breasts out of proportion to their body size. When breasts are too big they put excessive strain on the back, neck and shoulders causing pain and limitation of activity/mobility. They also cause postural changes, headaches and even rashes. Decreasing the size of the breast surgically is the only treatment that corrects these problems. Excess breast tissue and skin are removed and the tissue is rearranged and reshaped into a smaller, perkier breast in the right position on the chest wall. This reduces stress on the back and shoulders and makes it easier to be active. Most patients feel so much better and their only complaint is they wish they had the surgery sooner. Even if there is trouble healing, the benefits of the surgery still far outweigh the risks.
There are many different reasons patients can have trouble healing after surgery. Some are related to how the surgery is performed, so make sure your plastic surgeon is properly trained and credentialed (being a member of ASPS and Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery in plastic surgery is best). Your anatomy also plays a big role in how things heal. If you are extremely large or excessively droopy, then the risk of healing problems are higher. Also, what you do after surgery greatly influences how you heal. Make sure and follow your surgeon’s instructions faithfully to get the best results (and if you don’t understand why they recommend something ask for an explanation…there usually are very important reasons they recommend the things they do!)
Being too active too soon can pop stitches and make things swell and take longer to heal along with worsening scars. Smoking reduces blood flow to the healing tissue and can cause portions to die that otherwise would have survived. Support garments that are too tight or too loose can also impair healing. Exposing yourself to dusty or dirty environments can increase the risk of infection. We recommend clean sheets and towels after surgery and definitely avoid allowing your pets in your bed or around your healing incisions. Good hygiene and hand washing policies also help to avoid the spread of germs and infection. Attention to all of these details will help to decrease the chance of complications after breast reduction, but there is no way to avoid risks altogether. The best advice is to have an open line of communication with your plastic surgeon’s office and report any problems if they should arise. The vast majority of patients undergoing breast reduction heal uneventfully, but remember even if you do experience problems that these can be worked through and treated, and you will end up with the benefits that were the reason you considered the surgery to begin with.