Scarring is inevitable after any type of surgery involving incisions. This goes for breast reduction surgery as well as other common breast procedures such as breast augmentation surgery and breast lift surgery.
Fortunately, there are many things patients can do to help minimize the appearance of scarring after their breast reduction surgery. Choosing an experienced surgeon is the first wise decision patients can make in this regard.
You can find out more about breast reduction in general (and see breast reduction before and after photos) by heading here. In the following article, we’ll go over several of the most frequently asked questions regarding scarring after breast reduction surgery.
Q: What do scars look like after breast reduction?
A: The overall appearance of your breast reduction scars depends on multiple factors. The most important factor is what incisions were made during surgery.
There are basically three incisions made during a traditional breast reduction surgery (also called the inferior pedicle technique, anchor pattern, inverted-T incision, or Wise pattern). The first incision goes around each areola. The second incision goes from the bottom of each areola to the breast crease (where the breast meets the chest wall). And the final incision goes right along each breast crease.
In some cases, only two of these incisions are necessary. This is called the vertical incision method, the lollipop reduction, or the keyhole reduction. With this surgery, the first two Wise pattern incisions are made (one around the perimeter of the areola and one from the bottom of the areola to the breast crease). In this case, the bottom incision along the breast crease is not needed.
Finally, in some rare cases, patients who desire smaller breasts will qualify for a breast reduction surgery that only involves liposuction. If this is the case, only very small incisions are needed around the breast area.
These incisions only need to be small enough for a cannula (thin metal tube) to be inserted. This technique for breast reduction is rare, however, because in order to eliminate a patient’s symptoms, most breast reduction patients need to have at least 500 GM of tissue in each breast removed, which requires a more invasive technique.
Q: Are breast reduction scars noticeable?
A: At first, your breast reduction scars will certainly be noticeable. You’ll see a bright red or pink line where the incisions were made. Right away after surgery, you’ll also have sutures or tapes on your incisions to hold them together. After a few weeks, the sutures will dissolve or be removed, and the pigmentation of the scars should lighten up a bit. Once the incisions have fully healed together, the scars that were once slightly raised will begin to flatten out.
One thing to keep in mind in terms of how noticeable your breast reduction scars are is that any clothing you wear will automatically hide your scars. Even the majority of bathing suits will cover your scars. Therefore, it is only in intimate situations that your scars will likely be noticeable by others. And even then, after one to two years, you’re going to see a drastic reduction in their appearance. They will be flatter, less pigmented, and you should not feel unpleasant sensations when you touch them.
Q: How long does it take for breast reduction scars to flatten?
A: Scars will begin to flatten after several months.
During the initial period of recovery, however, your scars will be quite apparent. They will be pink or red, slightly raised, and even tender to the touch. Inflammation will still be present around the incision areas, so, in general, your scars will be very noticeable.
As those first few weeks of recovery go by, you’ll notice the swelling has gone down, your scars have become flatter and less inflamed, the pigmentation has become lighter, and the area is less tender and sore. After two to three months, the color should begin to fade. After six months, they should begin to flatten out.
After 12 months, you’ll notice a significant reduction in the appearance of your scars. They should only become less apparent from here. However, note that smoking, sun exposure, weight fluctuations, and other lifestyle choices may change the appearance of your scars.
As the years go by, your scars will flatten so that they become flush with the rest of the surrounding skin. The pigment will take on a whitish appearance. Of course, all of these factors will also depend on the patient’s skin tone and skin elasticity, in general. For example, breast reduction scars on black skin may appear darker in color than breast reduction scars on lighter skin tones.
Q: How do you get rid of breast reduction scars?
A: Although you cannot permanently get rid of breast reduction scars, there are steps you can take to minimize them.
This starts by choosing a well-qualified plastic surgeon. Good plastic surgeons are able to conceal incisions so that even if there is scarring, it’s not noticeable after healing. Good surgeons are also able to close up incisions carefully enough so that the scarring itself is minimal to start with.
Incision care after surgery is also critical to achieving near-invisible scars. Be sure that you are not straining or over-exerting yourself after surgery, especially during the first few weeks of recovery. Reaching high up in the air, stretching your arms out in front of you, bending over repeatedly, exercising to exertion, lifting heavy objects, and other similar actions are to be avoided during recovery. Strain is the number one reason that incisions open up, continue to bleed, or scar badly.
Staying hydrated, consuming a healthy diet, getting plenty of rest, avoiding sun exposure, not smoking, and waiting until your surgeon says it’s okay to return to exercise and other activities are the best ways to ensure optimal scar healing.
In addition, some patients will employ the use of self massage, scar creams or serums, silicone scar patches, and other techniques to help flatten and diminish the appearance of their scars. While these techniques can often help, you must ensure you wait until your incisions are fully closed before attempting them. As always, talk with your surgeon beforehand as well.
Learn More About Breast Reduction Scars
Whether you have more questions about breast reduction scars or simply want to find out if you’d make a good candidate for this surgery, Dr. Raja Mohan is always here to help. Call our office today to book a consultation appointment with Dr. Mohan and get started on your path to a new you!