2017 Sees a Spike in Breast Reductions: Bryn Mawr, PA, Plastic Surgeon Laura Gowen, MD Explains

breast reduction

While breast augmentation continues to hold the top spot amongst the most frequently performed cosmetic surgeries in the United States, annual statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) show that another procedure on the opposite end of the spectrum has seen a sharp increase this past year: reduction mammoplasty, commonly known as breast reduction. Bryn Mawr, PA, plastic surgeon Laura A. Gowen, MD explains that the procedure can hold both functional and aesthetic appeal to patients, depending on their goals.

After experiencing a moderate dip in 2016, the number of breast reductions performed across the country has dramatically spiked by 11 percent in 2017, reports ASPS. Part of this trend may be attributed to celebrities such as Ariel Winter (who went from an F- to a D-cup) and Amber Rose (who reduced her H- to a D-cup), who have been quite open with their fans on social media about their breast reduction journey.

Women who have macromastia or mammary hypertrophy – the clinical terms for overly large breasts (usually a D-cup or larger) – often choose to receive a breast reduction for functional reasons. Breast weight can add excess strain on the back, shoulders, and neck, contributing to chronic pain and stiffness in those areas. Chafing from skin-to-skin or skin-to-clothing friction can also result in uncomfortable rashes and sweat in the breast creases.

There are also many others who undergo the procedure for aesthetic reasons, noting that large breasts can make them feel self-conscious and pose a challenge when shopping for clothing and undergarments that make them look and feel comfortable and confident. This concern also extends to men who present with gynecomastia, or the development of noticeable male breasts.

Breast reduction surgery, or reduction mammoplasty, is a surgical procedure aimed at reducing the size of the breasts through the removal of fat, glandular tissue, and/or skin. In cases of patients who present with asymmetrical breasts, reduction may only be performed on one breast, or may be performed in different amounts on each breast to even out their size.

Depending on individual patient characteristics and the type of correction performed, a breast reduction may be accompanied by complementary procedures, such as a mastopexy or breast lift to elevate the breasts to a better projected, more youthful position.

The incisions for breast reduction typically resemble an anchor or inverted “T” shape, running from around the lower portion of the areola, down the breast in a straight line, and then in a curve hidden in the breast crease. The nipple may be elevated to a better position on the breast, and the areola may be made smaller if necessary.

If there is a significant amount of fat reduction required, liposuction may be incorporated into the breast reduction process.

Depending on individual case factors, a surgeon may either recommend the breast reduction be an outpatient procedure or require one overnight stay. For about three to four weeks, patients will be required to wear a soft post-operative bra and avoid any high-impact activities that may impede the healing process.

While insurance may cover most health-related procedures, the case for breast reduction may be a bit more complex as it may be for cosmetic or functional reasons – or both. In order to receive coverage, patients are typically required to provide their insurer with a certain amount of documented proof that there is a link between their functional concerns and large breasts, and that they have first attempted a number of less expensive treatments – such as chiropractic or orthopedic care, or even physical therapy – before considering surgery.

Because there is no standardization in coverage requirements for breast reduction surgery across insurance providers – and those requirements can often change from year to year – patients must keep themselves informed of the documents they need to submit to make a successful insurance claim.

When handled by an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon, breast reduction can yield very satisfying physical and psychological benefits long term. If you would like to learn about whether a breast reduction or another procedure is appropriate for you, you may request a consultation with Dr. Gowen online or by calling Cirillo Center for Plastic Surgery at 610.525.0500.