Best Breast Reduction Method for Women of Color

Lawrence N. Gray, MD

by Lawrence N. Gray, MD | August 9, 2010 @ 04:00PM

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The extensive scarring any women is left with from the conventional method of breast reduction is frightening enough, but for women of color, the problem is worsened by the tendency toward keloid scarring. The newer method, Breast Reduction Using Liposuction is a significant improvement over the conventional method because it avoids scarring altogether and relieves painful symptoms of oversized breasts. Most African American, Indian, and dark skinned Hispanic women are aware from their own experience that they are prone to this very noticeable and problematic type of scar.

Keloid or hypertrophic scars are wide, elevated, thick scars. They are often painful, itchy, and difficult to treat. Keloid scars occur in over 50 percent of patients of color when the traditional method of breast reduction is used, leaving a full 12 inches of scarring on each breast. For this reason, many women, particularly dark skinned women, avoid pursuing breast reduction surgery and continue suffering through the symptoms of oversized breasts.

Oversized breasts often cause back, neck, and shoulder pain, numbness of the hands and arms, headaches, rashes, and skin irritations under the breasts. Large breasts also make exercise difficult for some women. The self-consciousness many women have suffered their entire lives with oversized breast can also be a terrible burden.

The avoidance of surgery due to worries about scars and complications has lead to a higher rate of breast cancer. However, several studies have shown that women who have had breast reduction have a reduced risk of breast cancer. A smaller breast can be followed by mammograms more easily. Radiologists also report that mammograms are easier to read after the breast reduction using liposuction method than with the scarring of the conventional method.

Complications with the conventional method, not including scarring, occur in close to 50 percent of the cases. Possible complications are infection, bleeding, wound separation, and loss of the nipple or breast tissue. Numbness and the inability to breast feed are not commonly considered to be complications, but often occur with conventional surgery. With conventional surgery, the larger the amount of fat to be removed, the greater the risk of complications.

With Breast Reduction Using Liposuction there are virtually no complications. The surgery is less invasive. Liposuction removes only fat tissue. Since the breast is on the average greater than 50 percent fat, an average liposuction reduction reduces the breast by two cup sizes. There is no loss of sensation in the nipple and it does not interrupt the ability to breast feed.

There is a significant cost savings with liposuction breast reduction. Medical fees are lower because it is a shorter outpatient procedure. There is a quicker return to work, typically within one week. For some who are retricted to a desk with minimal physical activity, two to three days off is usually sufficient. Most women are amazed and happy with the "weekend" downtime. Insurance coverage for the conventional is become difficult to obtain because of the higher costs.

Dr. Gray, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is the originator of this procedure. He has been selected to teach a course on this procedure at the annual meeting of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in New York, May 4th-9th, 2001. He has performed more than 500 cases, published numerous articles, and has appeared on breast panels at national professional conferences. Dr. Gray is gaining international attention and has been asked to participate in a formal medical study of his procedure at Uppsala University in Sweden. Patients have come to him from other countries such as Turkey and Egypt. 

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