Breast Reduction

Will insurance cover breast reduction?

Breast reduction may be covered under medical insurance, and each policy has its own guidelines as to when/if the procedure is covered. In general there must be evidence of neck/back/shoulder pain that is related to the breasts, grooving in the shoulders that is not improved by custom bras, as well as rashes/wounds beneath the breasts. In addition, most insurance companies use a scale based on height and weight to determine the minimal amount of breast tissue to be removed to qualify.

How small can I make my breasts?

The blood supply to the nipple and breast tissue comes through the breast. In order to keep the breast and nipple alive, some portion of the breast needs to be preserved. In general this allows us to remove one-half to two-thirds of the excess breast tissue, which can vary patient to patient.

What is the recovery like?

Breast reduction is performed as a day surgery, meaning patients are able to go home the same day after surgery. There are generally no drains needed with breast reduction. Most patients only have mild to moderate soreness and are able to return to work in 5-7 days.

What are the scars with breast reduction?

The scars can depend on the size of the breast before the reduction and how much skin needs to be removed after the gland is reduced. In general every patient will have a circular scar around the areola and a vertical scar underneath (“lollipop”). If additional skin needs to be removed, then a curved scar is added beneath the crease of the breast (“anchor”). These scars are necessary to reposition the nipple as well as narrow and lift the breast. The scar around the nipple and vertical scar generally heal very well, fading and blending in over the course of a year. The horizontal scar in the crease of the breast can sometimes heal thicker and wider, but is often hidden beneath the breast. Also, sometimes there can be loss of pigment at times from the areola initially, but this often improves over the next 6-12 months.

Can I breast feed after breast reduction?

There are a number of research papers that show that the success rate of breast feeding with and without breast reduction is equivalent. Basically, the ducts leading to the nipple are not severed, so the milk produced by the remaining glandular tissue is able to be expressed. The only circumstance where this is not possible is in a particular type of breast reduction in which the nipple is removed and grafted back in place (“free nipple graft”). In this case the ducts have been severed, so there is no way for the gland to pass the milk to the nipple.

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