The traditional methods for breast reduction involve incisions that leave scars on the breasts. For most patients, these scars heal well with proper postoperative care, but in other patients, especially those with darker skin, such as African-American women, the scars resulting from breast reduction may be seen as a significant barrier to getting the procedure. Using liposuction-only breast reduction surgery may provide an alternative for these patients that is effective and results in less scarring, according to some studies.
Breast reduction is often a medically-necessary procedure. In addition to the self-consciousness that some women with hypertrophic (large) breasts feel, they may present with a number of significant secondary effects, including:
- Back, neck, and shoulder pain
- Shoulder ruts
- Breathing difficulties
- Intertrigo (skin inflammation and/or infection) of the breast crease
For these women, a breast reduction will represent significant relief. However, many of them are prevented from having the procedure by fear of scarring.
A recent study suggests that for these women liposuction can be used as a primary modality for breast reduction, if the hypertrophy is primarily the result of fatty tissue and not glandular tissue, the same circumstances under which gynecomastia may be treated with liposuction only. The study, published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, showed that all patients who underwent liposuction breast reduction saw a significant improvement in breast-related symptoms. The study was small, however, and, although suggestive, does not constitute definitive proof of a clinical technique. Other studies of liposuction-only breast reduction have been similarly small, and the technique is not generally practiced.