Overly large or sagging breasts cause neck and shoulder pain, deep grooves in the shoulders from brassiere straps, skin rashes, and increased menstrual discomfort. Enlarged breasts are often the result of hereditary factors or weight gain. In some cases, hormones also cause the breast tissue to be more sensitive than normal.
Sagging breasts result from poor skin tone, stretching of ligaments during pregnancy and breast-feeding, weight changes, and the aging process. These conditions are correctable with the same basic operative procedure and thousands of women each year undergo successful surgical alteration of their breasts.
A physician measures the breast and torso to determine the amount of reduction required and draws a pattern on the breast. If necessary, the doctor molds the internal breast tissue into a normal size and shape. Surgeons also elevate the nipple to a more acceptable position to create a shapelier breast. Sometimes during uplift operations, a surgeon places a small implant to add extra support and shape to the breast. New techniques in plastic surgery aim to reduce the length of incisions and scars involved in breast lifts and reductions. In traditional techniques, doctors make incision lines around the areola, down the bottom center and horizontally under the breast and resulting in an "anchor scar." Modern methods limit the incisions to either just around the areola (small circular scar) or around the areola and down the center of the breast resulting in a "lollipop scar." Physicians close all incisions in multiple layers in order to minimize the widening of the scars.
After surgery, a doctor fits a comfortable bandage around the patient. The patient wears the bandage for 48 hours. Doctors recommend continued support of the breasts with a well-fitted, comfortable bra to prevent sagging.