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What is Mammaplasty?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Jacquelyn Gilchrist

Mammaplasty is a cosmetic surgery procedure in which the size or shape of the breasts are changed. Reduction mammaplasty refers to a procedure in which the breast size is reduced. In augmentation mammaplasty, the breast size is increased. This procedure is also sometimes called mammoplasty.

Reduction mammaplasty may be performed for a number of reasons. The patient may experience back, neck, or shoulder pain from breasts that are too heavy. Large breasts may also restrict or prevent the patient from engaging in sports activities, as well as result in poor posture. The patient may also experience a chronic rash in that area. She may also suffer from poor self-esteem.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Breast augmentation surgery is often performed for the purpose of enhancing body image. Augmentation mammaplasty can also correct certain developmental defects, for example, when a patient has breasts of unequal sizes. Breast cancer patients may also choose to have reconstruction surgery following an operation to treat cancer.

Patients should ensure that they select a certified cosmetic surgeon with experience, who operates in an accredited medical facility. The surgeon should question the patient regarding any medications, medical conditions, and allergies, as well as lifestyle choices, such as alcohol, smoking, and drug use. These surgical procedures may require an overnight stay in the hospital, but often the patient can go home the day of the surgery. Mammaplasty patients should arrange to have someone drive them home following the procedure.

Reduction surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon will make the initial incision around the areola. Then he can make any additional incisions necessary, depending on the breast size. Excess fat, tissue, and skin are removed through the incision.

If the breasts are droopy and very large, the surgeon may need to take an extra step. He may remove the nipple and areola, and then re-attach them at a higher area. Since this step necessitates detaching the blood vessels and nerves, the patient will typically experience a permanent loss of sensation in the area. The patient will also be unable to breast-feed.

Augmentation mammaplasty can be performed under either local or general anesthesia. There are three possible locations for the surgeon to make an incision: the armpit, around the nipple, or at the crease underneath the breast. Following the incision, the surgeon will separate the tissues to create a pocket in which a breast implant can be inserted.

With either procedure, the patient should discuss recovery with their surgeon before the surgery. Patients should expect to rest for a period of time before they return to work or physical activities. The surgeon should instruct the patient to watch for signs of an infection, such as redness, warmth, and fever. In some cases, the patient may choose to have additional surgery if the desired results are not achieved.

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