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At a Glance: The Evolution of Breast Reduction Surgery

The technology and techniques of plastic surgery continue to evolve; and breast reduction (“reduction mammaplasty”) is among its many procedures that continue to advance. Regarded as a reconstructive surgery, breast reduction is unique in that it not only is intended to provide physical relief for a woman; it is also known to aesthetically improve the appearance of the breasts. This procedure can effectively reduce the discomfort and pain associated with having overly large breasts, such as problems of the spine, shoulder, and neck.

Breast reduction has been performed on women for decades, with its popularity taking off notably in the 1980s. In addition to the use of liposuction, the inverted T-incision technique was the classic breast reduction method used for years by physicians. Also known as the “anchor-shaped incision,” the inverted T-incision method is offered by Dr. Shah at his plastic surgery practice due to its efficacy when performed on women who have extremely large breasts or an excessive amount of breast skin present. Also known as the “anchor-shaped incision,” this technique involves an incision made around the areola (darker skin surrounding the nipple), goes straight down in a vertical fashion, and then horizontally, or side to side, along the breast crease.

As compared to the more modern breast reduction technique – the short scar breast reduction – there is generally a greater risk of complication and scarring associated with the inverted T-incision. Also referred to as the “lollipop incision” or “vertical breast reduction,” the short scar breast reduction was developed years after the anchor-shaped incision method. The lollipop incision is designed to properly treat breasts that are not as large or did not need an extreme amount of excess skin removed. The lollipop incision is also made around the areola before extending vertically, straight down to the breast crease. But that is where it stops – this method does not entail a horizontal incision at the breast crease. A benefit to the lollipop incision is that the surgeon can create an uplifted shape at the same time. Dr. Shah also offers this type of breast reduction surgery at his practice.

As other variations have developed over the years, the two methods most commonly performed are the inverted T-incision method and the lollipop incision. Dr. Shah will determine the best breast reduction technique for you during your consultation, the inverted T-incision or the lollipop incision, during which he will assess your unique anatomy, breast size, and skin characteristics. He will also be able to learn about your goals and expectations at this time.

Although the lollipop incision method offers less scarring than the inverted T-incision technique, it is important to know that everyone’s scars heal differently and all scars will continue to improve for a year or two following breast surgery. Several factors will affect its visibility, such as the patient’s age, location on the body, genetics, lifestyle, smoking, and sun exposure.

To learn more about your options with breast reduction, please contact the practice of Dr. Shah at the Columbus Institute of Plastic Surgery. You may do so by calling (614) 482-2123.