As with all surgical procedures, bleeding is a risk both during and after surgery. You should receive a long list of medications to avoid for two weeks before surgery and it is important to take that list seriously. This list includes many over the counter products such as aspirin, vitamin E, fish oil and ibuprofen as well as certain prescription drugs. If you are taking prescribed medication that is on the list to avoid, be sure to discuss this with your primary care physician before stopping it.
Infection is a concern as well so most patients will receive intravenous antibiotics just prior to surgery and sometimes oral antibiotics as well. Please follow your prescription instructions closely and notify your doctor of any side effects such as a rash, itching or yeast infection.
Because a breast reduction involves removing a lot of excess skin, scarring is a risk with the procedure. While most of the scars heal as relatively fine lines, thick, raised or wide scars are possible. To reduce the amount of scarring, Dr. McMahan prefers to use all absorbable sutures under the skin to avoid the marks that can be created by skin sutures. We find it very helpful to religiously tape over your incisions for at least two to three months after surgery.
Loss of Sensation
Statistically, 35% of patients who undergo reduction mammaplasty lose sensation to one or both nipples. This is somewhat dependent not only on the technique that is used, but also on the size of the reduction that is performed. The larger the surgery, the bigger the chance of permanent numbness to the nipples.
Loss of skin, including the nipple and areola areas, can also happen during a breast reduction. This can happen because of excessive swelling, such as from excessive bleeding or from loss of blood supply to the tissue. The latter can happen from exposure to cigarette smoke. If you are a smoker, you MUST quit completely for at least 3-4 weeks before surgery and for a month after surgery. This also includes secondary smoke. This loss of tissue cannot be fully corrected if it happens and results in worse scarring! DON’T SMOKE!!!!
Blood clots in the legs can occur as a result of surgery and inactivity. You will typically receive an injection of a blood thinner just before surgery, have stockings on your legs during surgery and in the recovery room and you are encouraged to move your feet and legs as well as get up and walk around frequently starting the day of surgery. If you get pain in your calf or swelling in one or both ankles after surgery, notify your doctor immediately. These blood clots can be very serious and even lethal if they break off and travel to the heart and lungs. Prevention is most important. You are at higher risk if you have a history of blood clots, a family history of clots, cancer, are significantly over weight, are taking birth control pills or if you do not get up and walk frequently after surgery.