Reducing Risks with Breast Reduction Surgery

As is true with many surgical procedures, the bigger the surgery, the greater the risks are.  This is true as well with breast reduction surgery (reduction mammoplasty).

General Risks

Larger, heavier patients tend to have higher risks of complications during and after surgery than smaller patients.  This includes bleeding, infection, scarring, blood clots, healing problems, anesthesia difficulty and more. As breast reduction surgery is not an urgent procedure, you have adequate time to lose excess weight before considering the procedure. Having large breasts is not an excuse to not be able to diet or perform some form of exercise.

Bleeding

To reduce the risk of bleeding, be sure to carefully avoid taking medication that can thin your blood for two weeks before surgery such as aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamin E, fish oil and many others. You will get a comprehensive list at the time of your consultation.

Infection

Infection is relatively rare but you can reduce your risk by taking your antibiotics as prescribed and it is advisable to scrub your breasts, especially underneath and in your arm pits, with an antibacterial soap before going to the surgery center.

Blood Clots - DVT

To reduce the risk of blood clots in your legs, move your feet and legs frequently while you are sitting or lying down.  More importantly, get up and walk around the room frequently starting the day of surgery.  Notify your surgeon ASAP if you get ankle swelling or calf pain after surgery.

Skin Loss

Skin loss, which can include the nipple and areola areas, can occur with breast reduction or breast lift surgery.  It is imperative that you not smoke for at least three weeks before surgery and for more than a month afterwards.  Secondary smoke can be just as bad so you can’t even be around someone else who is smoking for that same period of time.  This also includes nicotine gums and patches as well as e-cigarettes as some of them also contain certain quantities of nicotine.

Scarring

To reduce scarring, we recommend that you tape over your incisions for several months after surgery.  Do not pull the tape off every day as this will irritate your skin; let it come off by itself or wait until it is very loose.  If you cannot use the tape we recommend silicone sheeting, which can be found in most pharmacies or you can buy it online.

Anesthesia

If you have had problems with anesthesia in the past, it is important to notify both your surgeon and the anesthesiologist about these difficulties before surgery.  It is also recommended that you let them know if anyone in your family has had a serious reaction to anesthesia, especially something as severe as malignant hyperthermia.  Sleep apnea can cause problems with the airway; so it is advisable to discuss this with your surgical team prior to your procedure.  Smoking can significantly increase your risk of anesthesia, especially with respect to pneumonia.  You should not be smoking at the time of a breast reduction anyway.

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