During breast reduction surgery, the surgeon makes an incision and that incision will scar as it heals. How visible it remains depends on many factors, from the technique used for the reduction, to the post-surgical instructions and how well the patient follows them. Scars fade over time and, in many cases, the patient may be the only one who notices the scars after a few years.
Planning Ahead to Reduce Breast Reduction Surgery Scars
Lessening the visibility of breast reduction scarring starts before the procedure has even begun. At the time of your consultation, our surgical team can help with a customized plan.
Here are some of the steps most plans include:
- Ensure you have a week or two of time off work to recover from your surgery.
- Have someone available to drive you home after your breast reduction procedure.
- Obtain the after-care instructions from your plastic surgeon and have any questions answered.
- Make sure you have a comfortable place to stay during your recovery with music, books, television… whatever entertainment will help you just relax during your recovery.
During a breast reduction procedure, the plastic surgeon makes incisions on your breast to surgically remove excess fat, glandular tissue, and skin.
In some cases, if minimal reduction is desired, breast size is largely due to fatty tissue and excess skin is not a factor, liposuction alone may be used to reduce breast size. When a patient needs a full breast reduction procedure, incisions will be made around the areola, with a second incision running vertically from the bottom of your areola to the crease underneath the breast. The third, and last, incision will follow the crease under the breast.
How Long Do Breast Reduction Scars Last?
By strictly following your plastic surgeon’s after-care instructions and keeping all appointments, your scars should heal into thin, flat lines over the course of about a year. After a year, the scars can be difficult to see, unless you’re looking for them.
The final appearance of scars can vary depending on factors such as skin color. Darker skin tones are more prone to developing hypertrophic scars or keloids (keloids are smooth, hard growths that sometimes form when scar tissue grows excessively). They are not harmful but may be larger than other scars.
Hyperpigmentation, a condition in which patches of skin become darker in color than the surrounding skin, may also occur.
With proper care, scars fade significantly over the course of time. Just make sure you follow all of your surgeon’s instructions exactly, keep incisions clean to avoid infection, and avoid exposing the incisions to sunlight.
How to Minimize Scarring and Help Yourself Heal?
The patient can help minimize their own breast reduction scarring by following exactly the instructions given to them by their plastic surgeon. When you do precisely as has been explained to you, you can help yourself heal more quickly and reduce scarring.
In general, the patient will be asked to do everything possible to reduce any tension or stress on her breasts.
Here are ways to avoid excess tension:
- Wear the surgical support bra you have received – typically, this will need to be worn 24 hours a day for a few weeks.
- If you are given a prescription for antibiotics, take them as directed and for the full number of days. Any infection or significant swelling may increase the size or visibility of the scar.
- After this period, switch to a sports bra. This type of bra is ideal, as there is no underwire digging into the breast crease incision and there is no other irritating material.
- Sleep with your upper body propped up – a recliner is an excellent option if the patient has one available.
- Have someone available to help you for the first few days after surgery.
- Limit alcohol intake and no smoking during the healing process, as these can both interfere with and cause a more prominent breast reduction scar. Smoking and other nicotine products can cause severe skin damage.
- Ultraviolet rays from the sun can contribute to a darker scar than would otherwise occur so, ideally, the patient should keep her breasts completely covered up from the sun for the first year after surgery.
- Keep the surgical tape on the incisions for as long as instructed, usually a week or two.
- Once cleared to shower, do so regularly and keep the area clean. Do not rub or put pressure on the incisions.
- Avoid strenuous activity until told you are ready by your surgical team. Picking up anything, pulling items, or even driving can cause problems.
- Take a week or more off at work to have the best chance of minimizing breast reduction scars.
- Give yourself time. Scars fade and lighten significantly in the years following the breast reduction procedure.
Reducing the Visibility of Breast Reduction Scars
In addition to conscientious after-care, there are a few more things you can do yourself to help reduce the visibility of breast reduction scars. Ask your surgeon which of these he recommends for you.
Silicone Scar Sheets
Medical grade silicone can help flatten and fade scars by supporting and hydrating the area of the incision while treating the area with restorative silicone.
Natural Formulas for Scar Reduction
Natural creams and gels can be used to replenish skin oils, and nutrients to help fade scars and improve the appearance of the area. The products usually contain vitamins, various oils such as emu oil, safflower, and jojoba, and other natural skin healers.
Breast Reduction Scar Cream
A variety of over-the-counter scar creams and gels can be found at your local pharmacy. (Ask your surgeon which of these is best for you to try.)
Breast Reduction Scar Removal
If you don’t like how the marks look on your skin once it settles, you can work with your surgeon to get steroid injections to break down the scars or use a laser treatment that minimizes their appearance.
Steroids injected directly into the scar are often the first treatment used for keloids. Injections are used rather than topical steroid creams because the tissue cannot absorb the medication through the skin well enough to be effective in most situations. However, topical application may be used in some cases.
The development of laser technology has enabled us to offer non-invasive scar revision. Lasers can be used to target skin imperfections while leaving healthy skin intact, minimizing downtime and aiding in the generation of new skin.
While scars cannot be completely removed, they can be treated to make them blend in with the texture and tone of the surrounding skin.
During laser scar revision treatment the operator moves the laser device along the length of the scar, removing the top layer of the skin and stimulating the growth of collagen in the deeper dermal layers, reducing the appearance of the scar from the inside out.
If you’re concerned about the appearance of your scars after breast reduction surgery, you should schedule a consultation with Dr. Ganchi. Whether your procedure was performed by us or not, we can help you minimize your post-surgical scarring and look your absolute best after your breast reduction.
To see some of Dr. Ganchi’s work please visit our Breast Reduction Before and After Gallery.