Liposuction in Breast Reduction: The "No-Scalpel Breast Reduction"
Breast liposuction is a great alternative to surgical breast reduction for many people. After liposuction, the breast usually takes on the same shape as it had before, only smaller. With a skillful, experienced surgeon, the skin and all the breast tissue will shrink to some degree, and the nipple will elevate on average one inch or a bit more from the original position (this has been shown in scientific studies and you can see it in our photos). Younger women in particular often get beautiful skin shrinkage.
With surgical breast reduction, on the other hand, you customarily end up with a scar shaped like an anchor of a ship. There's a scar all around the nipple, a scar that goes down from the nipple to the fold under the breast, and a scar that extends all the way out to the sides of the breast on the fold underneath — more than a foot long total in some cases. In a few patients these scars may look reasonably satisfactory; most often they are considered pretty extreme. Liposuction scars, however, are usually minimal, especially compared to this. Each breast might require four incisions to liposuction the breast properly. Each one of these little scars may be about 1/8th of an inch long if you have a skilled surgeon. And they ultimately fade pretty well in most cases. You can generally remove enough fat with liposuction to reduce as much as with surgical breast reduction.
Surgical breast reduction may produce a better-shaped breast, if you have a very skilled and experienced surgeon. But as with everything else in life, there are tradeoffs. The scarring with breast reductions usually outweighs this advantage. While you can always go back and get a breast reduction if you want an improved shape after breast liposuction, after surgical breast reduction, you can't erase your scars.
There are no known effects of breast reduction or breast liposuction on breast cancer. Both may change mammogram appearance (although we have a case where no scarring was seen on the mammogram a year after breast liposuction), but an experienced radiologist can tell the difference in most breasts between the surgical changes and cancer. You may need to have a mammogram before the surgery to establish a baseline, and then continue on the routine schedule for your age and risk group.
Recovery is usually much easier with breast liposuction. I believe that chances of complications — bleeding, nipple death, infection, and other things - are much smaller with breast liposuction. Each person must be counseled individually about these procedures, taking into account their special needs and body type. Thus, if you are considering breast reduction surgery, be sure to consult an experienced liposuction surgeon as well.
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