Thousands of women each year report looking and feeling better and having more confidence as the result of breast surgery. Whether you want a cosmetic change to improve feelings about your personal appearance, you want the size of your breasts reduced to address back pain and other medical concerns, or you want breast reconstruction to address a birth defect or the results of breast cancer treatment, breast surgery can help you reach these goals.
There are five main types of breast surgery:
Breast augmentation: Uses gel or saline implants to increase breast size
Breast correction: Addresses asymmetry of the breasts or differences in size, shape or nipple position
Breast reduction: Decreases the amount of excess skin and breast tissue in women whose breasts are disproportionate to their body structure. In men, it addresses gynecomastia, a condition characterized by excess localized fat or glandular tissue development, or a combination of the two.
Breast lift: Restores the youthful look and fullness of your breasts
Breast reconstruction: Reconstructs the breast after it has been removed or disfigured due to cancer
As you talk to a plastic surgeon during the initial consultation, the first step toward achieving your new look, you may discover that a combination of surgeries are required to achieve the look and feel you want.
The surgeon will help you determine a breast size and shape that will complement the rest of your body. You also will talk about how weight loss, smoking cessation and other steps prior to your surgery could impact your outcome.
The surgeon also will talk to you about possible risks of breast surgery including:
Difficulties with wound healing;
Scars and asymmetries;
After a first consultation, a breast surgery candidate receives information to read over and think about before scheduling a second consultation before the surgery.
Many patients are surprised to learn that breast surgery is outpatient. Augmentation surgery generally is performed through short unobtrusive incisions under the breasts, and with breast reduction the surgeon uses the shortest incision possible around the areola continuing in a vertical fashion to the lower part of the breast and sometimes under the breast.
While many can return to work within a week or two of the procedure, healing continues for three to six months.
Based on risk factors and age, some women are encouraged to have a mammogram prior to surgery. For women choosing gel implants, the FDA recommends periodic MRIs to evaluate the implants.
As the breasts change naturally over time, additional surgery may be required. This typically is considered around the 10- to 12-year mark.
Breast surgery can help you get back to exercising, reduce back and neck pain, help you feel more confident about your appearance and even give you a brighter outlook about your future after illness.
Some breast reduction and most reconstruction surgeries are covered by insurance. Find out how breast surgery can benefit you by talking to an experienced plastic surgeon.
Lavallee is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Susquehanna Health.