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Breast Surgery is Performed for Many Reasons

Breast augmentation, breast lift and breast reduction are common procedures in the United States.

Breast Augmentation

Augmentation mammoplasty, or breast augmentation, is performed to enhance the appearance, size and contour of a woman’s breasts.

Women consider breast augmentation for different reasons. Some women believe their breasts are too small or have lost shape after pregnancy and breastfeeding. Others want both breasts to be the same size and shape.

Surgery to increase breast size requires the use of implants that are placed over or under the chest (pectoralis) muscle. A breast implant is a soft silicone shell that is filled with either saline (salt water solution) or silicone gel. The size and type of the implant and the surgical insertion site are determined based on the desired outcome and after a thorough discussion with the surgeon. To insert the implant, the surgeon makes an incision in the crease under the breast or near the armpit. Most women receive general anesthesia for this surgery.

The procedure takes approximately 60 to 90 minutes and is often performed in an outpatient surgery center. Recovery time depends on the patient, but most patients return to normal, low-stress activity within a day or two and most are driving within four to five days, with a full recovery in a few weeks. Bruising and swelling are usually gone within one to two weeks.

Breast Lift

A variety of factors – pregnancy, breastfeeding, weight loss – may lead to the breasts looking deflated and saggy. In most cases, the skin is not strong enough or resilient enough to support the weight of the breasts, causing the breasts to sag. Breast lift surgery can help the breasts return to a more youthful position and appearance.

There are primarily three different incision patterns that may be used depending on the size of the breasts, personal preference and desired outcomes. After the incision is made, the underlying breast tissue is lifted and reshaped to improve shape and firmness. Sometimes, an implant is intended to replace lost volume or size. Excess skin is removed and the remaining skin is tightened. The nipple area is repositioned to a natural position.

The procedure takes two to three hours and is performed under general anesthesia. Recovery time is generally two to three days with limited activity, followed by a few weeks of low-stress activities.

Breast Reduction

Otherwise known as reduction mammoplasty, breast reduction surgery is a surgical option for women with large, heavy breasts who experience significant discomfort including neck and back pain, numbness or weakness because of the weight of the breasts. Some women, who do not have a medical reason for reducing the size of their breasts but want to improve their appearance, may opt for a cosmetic breast reduction. Men with conditions such as gynecomastia (in which male breasts are abnormally enlarged) may also get a breast reduction.

During the procedure, excess skin, fat and breast tissue are removed. After surgery, most women report relief from the pain and discomfort caused by having large breasts.

Breast reduction surgery takes about three to four hours. The surgeon makes a cut around the nipple then downward on the breast, in the shape of a keyhole, and then removes the excess skin, breast tissue and fat. The nipple is then repositioned in the correct position on the smaller-sized breast. The breasts are wrapped in a special gauze to begin healing; a post-surgical bra may be needed.

Depending on the personal situation, breast reduction surgery can be done in an outpatient facility or the patient may have to stay at least one night in the hospital. In either case, general anesthesia is used during the procedure. Recovery time is normally two to three weeks with limited activity.

Plastic Surgeons of Northern Arizona offers breast augmentation and other breast surgery options. Most procedures are performed on an outpatient basis at Northern Arizona SurgiCenter. The state-licensed and AAAHC-accredited ambulatory surgery center is located in the lower level of the Plastic Surgeons of Northern Arizona building in Flagstaff.

To learn more about breast augmentation and other breast surgery procedures, call 928-774-2300 or 800-962-1390 to schedule a free consultation at one of the eight Plastic Surgeons of Northern Arizona locations. To learn more about Plastic Surgeons of Northern Arizona and to schedule an appointment, visit PSNA.net. FBN

By Adam Boettcher, M.D.

Adam Boettcher, M.D., is board certified in plastic and reconstructive surgery. He joined Plastic Surgeons of Northern Arizona in 2012. Dr. Boettcher specializes in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery including facial cosmetic procedures and facial reconstruction following a traumatic injury or illness, breast augmentation and reconstruction and complex hand reconstruction surgery.


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