Breast Reduction Surgery

Breast Reduction Surgery

Unlike many forms of cosmetic surgery, a breast reduction can have a significant impact on a patient’s overall health.  Breast size is not only a matter of appearance, but can affect other parts of the body and overly large breasts can provide discomfort or even pain on a daily basis.

Demand for this surgery has been increasing.  The most recent statistics indicate that breast reduction is the 6th most popular cosmetic surgery worldwide — over 400,000 women sought the procedure in 2010. More and more of these women are traveling to foreign countries to receive treatment. Clinics and hospitals all over the world now offer this procedure and have highly trained physicians with top of the line equipment comparable to that found in western hospitals.

Breast ReductionWhy Breast Reduction?

Women seek breast reduction surgery in order to eliminate discomfort, pain, and to help them feel better about their appearance.  In general there are three reasons to consider breast reduction:

1. Reduce or eliminate pain. Large breasts put a strain on the neck, shoulders, and back and can lead to chronic pain and posture or spinal problems over time.  They can also cause skin irritation. Surgery can free a patient of that pain.

2. Open up possibilities. Many women with large breasts encounter limitations as to what sports and other physical activities they can enjoy.  Reduction surgery removes those limitations.

3. Improve confidence and body image.  Contrary to popular belief, many women with large breasts are unhappy with their bodies, feeling self-conscious or even embarrassed. It is even difficult to find clothing that fits properly. Smaller breasts are less conspicuous and make it easier for women to find fashionable clothing in their new proportions.

Surgery & Post-Op

The medical term for the surgery is reduction mammaplasty.  It involves the removal of excess tissue, fat, and skin to reduce the size of the breast.  Patients can expect to be out of surgery in three to five hours depending on the specific surgery plan.  The surgery is done under general anesthesia in a clinic or hospital and is usually performed as an outpatient procedure.

The main surgery involves one or more incisions in each breast to permit the surgeon to remove tissue and fat. Depending on the size of the breasts, the doctor may perform liposuction to remove the fatty tissue.  Excess skin is also removed as part of the reshaping process.  In some cases a doctor may decide that liposuction is the only procedure required to achieve the necessary reduction in size.

In some cases the surgeon may need to remove and then reposition the areola and nipple in order to create a natural shape to the reduced breast. Some patients will have a smaller areola after surgery, to match the new breast proportion.

If the over-sized breasts are drooping or sagging the doctor may incorporate a breast lift or mastopexy as part of the surgery. This will increase the firmness of the breast and reduce or eliminate the skin irritation problem experienced by many patients.

Patients will leave the hospital with bandages or a surgical bra. Some doctors will leave a small drainage tube in each breast for a few days.  The breasts will likely hurt for the first few days after surgery and most patients will be prescribed pain medication.  Discomfort may last for a week or more and bruising and swelling can continue for several weeks.  Generally stitches are removed after one or two weeks, though some surgeons have begun to use dissolving stitches.

Most patients can resume normal activities after a few weeks, including returning to work.  It will probably take five to six weeks of healing before patients can attempt vigorous or strenuous exercise or heavy lifting.  Scars from the surgery will eventually fade but they will not completely disappear.

Where to Go

If numbers are to be trusted, the countries performing the most surgeries likely have a larger number of certified physicians and a good reputation for quality care. After the US, the most breast reductions are performed in Brazil, China, Japan, and Mexico. Other top countries include South Korea, India, Columbia, and Turkey.  Those seeking to travel within Western nations should investigate Italy, France, Germany and Spain as well as Canada and the UK.

Big Golden Buddha at Wat Sing Buri Province, thailandIn general, cosmetic surgery is the single most popular treatment sought by medical travelers. Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand are at the top of the charts in performing cosmetic procedures in Asia and one of the reasons is cost. Patients can expect to save 25-40% in Singapore, 65-85% in Malaysia and 50-75% in Thailand for the same procedures in the US.

In the Americas, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Costa Rica are popular destinations for cosmetic surgery such as breast reduction.  Surgeries in Mexico are 40-65% less than in the US while those traveling to Brazil can save 20-30% and patients in Costa Rica will save 45-65%.

Women seeking breast reduction in foreign countries should treat the surgery the same as at home. Research the procedure ahead of time and seek a qualified and certified doctor in an accredited facility.  Ask lots of questions before committing to the surgery and make sure that all preliminary testing and diagnosis is complete, such as blood and lab tests and getting a baseline mammogram. Follow all pre- and post-op instructions and follow up with the surgeon or primary doctor back home.

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