Breast Reduction: When Plastic Surgery Becomes Medically Necessary
By Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists, on March 3, 2015
When most people think of cosmetic surgery as it relates to breasts, usually a breast augmentation is what comes to mind (and for good reason; over a quarter of a million people got breast implants in 2013). And while breast augmentation is certainly a highly desirable surgery that produces great results for those patients, a breast reduction is often a truly life-changing procedure, both physically and mentally.
Oversized Breasts Can Cause Health Problems
Although there is an aesthetic component, breast reductions are not always purely cosmetic in nature. Large, heavy breasts can cause physical problems and interfere with a woman’s daily functioning. This is technically known as symptomatic macromastia, and ailments include but are not limited to the following:
- Chronic pain in the back, neck, and shoulders
- Numbness in the arms and hands
- Shortness of breath
- Migraine headaches
- Sleep disturbances
- Limitations to activity such as aerobic exercise
Breast Reductions May Be Covered by Insurance
Since symptomatic macromastia causes physical problems that require treatment, a breast reduction can many times be considered a medically necessary procedure, and as such, may be covered by a patient’s health insurance. Every patient’s situation is different, and the coverage limits and requirements will differ according to the type of insurance. Additionally, some insurance companies require trials of non-surgical treatments prior to approving coverage for surgery. Non-surgical treatments may provide relief when mild symptoms occasionally occur, but are typically ineffective for chronic or severe symptoms. Physical therapy, a regimen of anti-inflammatory medications, visits to a chiropractor, and massage are all common non-surgical interventions.
A Smaller, More Functional Shape Through Surgery
A breast reduction procedure is a major surgery and performed under general anesthesia. During the procedure, the surgeon will remove excess fat, skin and glandular tissue, rendering the breasts smaller, lighter and more proportionate to the patient’s body size. The size of the areola will also be reduced to match the new breast size, and the nipple location will be adjusted as appropriate. At times, a small amount of liposuction in the surrounding areas is advisable to aid in shaping the entire breast and chest area. To aid in the minimization of visible scarring, incisions are typically placed around the areola, nipple, and vertically to the underside of the breast.
A breast reduction has everything to do with the patient’s health and the functioning of the body, and the success rate of breast reductions is extremely high. Once the surgery and healing is complete, patients can enjoy a newfound confidence in their appearance and abilities, as activities that were once difficult or uncomfortable are now possible.
Determination of medical necessity and the ensuing attempts to secure insurance coverage are often the most difficult part of a breast reduction surgery. While all plastic surgeons are trained in reductive mammaplasty, their experience is not equal. If you are experiencing issues with disproportionately large, heavy breasts, a consultation with a surgeon at Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists can help you discover your options.
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