Myths and Misconceptions about Breast Reduction

Breast reduction is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures in the United States. Reduction of large breasts provides immediate and long-term improvement in back, shoulder, and neck pains that come from a woman having to carry around the equivalent of a rope around their neck with several pound bags hanging from them.  Despite the common performance of the breast reduction  operation, there are numerous misconceptions and misinformation that surround the procedure. Here are the top five breast reduction myths.

Breast reduction causes a lot of pain after surgery. Despite what many paients fear, breast reduction is not associated with much pain after surgery. There certainly is some soreness  and discomfort, but acute and unbearable pain just does not occur. Since breast reduction is about the removal of skin and breast tissue, not muscle or bone, pain is far less than what many women fear.

 My breasts will still sag after surgery even though they will weigh less. Breast reduction is a combination of a reduction AND a breast lift procedure. The surgical technique o f breast reduction involves an entire reshaping of the breast, upward nipple repositioning along with breast tissue removal. Beast lift procedures are essentially the same operation but without any breast tissue removal.

 My nipples are removed during the operation and are put back in place at the end. In general, this is rarely done.  In the most commonly performed method of breast reduction, known as the inferior pedicle technique, the nipples are left attached to a central mound of breast tissue. Breast tissue and skin is removed around it. Keeping the nipples attached keeps them alive and preserves feeling in them. In a less common breast reduction method, known as free nipple grafting, the nipples are in fact removed and put back later. But this method is only done in very large breasts in which the nipples are in danger of survival with the traditional inferior pedicle method of breast reduction.

 I won’t be able to breast feed or feel my nipples after a breast reduction.  In the inferior pedicle technique, the nipples (and their underlying glands and nerves) remain attached. Thus, the nerve supply to the nipple is maintained allowing for sensation, the ability of the nipple to get erect, and to be able to breast feed. There is always the risk that even with the nipples remaining attached, the nerve supply to the nipple will be injured from removing breast tissue from other areas, but this is not common. (although a possible risk)

 My insurance won’t cover my breast reduction. No one, patient or plastic surgeon, can predict with any accuracy what any insurance company may do. This is why the submission of a pre-determination letter from the plastic surgeon in absolutely necessary in all cases. Your insurance company has very specific criteria for what qualifies someone for breast reduction (they all do) and the pre-determination letter must have all your information (breast size, symptoms, amount of breast tissue to be removed) to see if you qualify. My experience has been that over 80% of patients get approved on the first submission.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Dr. Barry L. Eppley
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Board Certified Plastic Surgeon