Scars after Breast Reduction Surgery

Where Are the Scars Located and How to Minimise Them

Breast reduction surgery is a complex procedure, offering significant relief from physical discomforts such as back pain, shoulder pain, and skin irritation caused by overly large breasts. However, it’s important to remember that, like any surgical procedure, it leaves scars. These scars are a natural part of the healing process, but understanding where they will be located and how to care for them is important in helping you set realistic expectations. Proper scar care can improve the appearance of scars after breast reduction over time, helping you to feel more comfortable and confident in your skin.

Consultant Plastic Surgeon Anthony MacQuillan  will walk you through the different scar patterns, explain why they’re necessary, and provide you with practical tips on how to minimise their appearance.

Scarring after Surgery

Before we look at the specifics of breast reduction scars, it’s helpful to understand why they happen. When your skin is cut during surgery, your body immediately begins a complex healing process. This process involves:

  • Blood clotting: This stops the bleeding and forms a protective layer over the wound.
  • Inflammation: Your body sends white blood cells to the area to fight infection and clear away damaged tissue. This can cause the area to become red, swollen, and tender.
  • New tissue growth: Your body produces collagen, a protein that helps build new tissue and close the wound. This new tissue is what eventually forms the scar.

Scars are a natural part of this healing process. While your body works hard to make the scar as inconspicuous as possible, its appearance can be influenced by several factors, including:

  • Genetics: Some people are genetically predisposed to form more prominent scars.
  • Location and size of the incision: Larger incisions and those in areas of high tension, like the chest, tend to leave more noticeable scars.
  • Surgical technique: Anthony will use techniques to minimise tension on the wound and promote optimal healing.
  • Post-operative care: Following Anthony’s instructions for wound care is essential for minimising scarring.

Scarring Patterns in Breast Reduction Surgery

There are several techniques used in breast reduction surgery, each with its own scarring pattern. Anthony will recommend the most appropriate method based on your individual needs and goals. The three main techniques are:

Inverted-T or Anchor Incision Technique

The inverted-T or anchor incision technique is the most commonly used method for breast reduction surgery. This technique involves three distinct incisions: one around the areola (the pigmented skin surrounding the nipple), another vertically from the bottom of the areola to the breast crease, and a final incision horizontally along the breast crease.

The incision around the areola allows Anthony to resize and reposition the nipple-areola complex to match the new, reduced breast size. The vertical incision from the areola to the breast crease enables the removal of excess breast tissue, fat, and skin, while also providing access for reshaping the remaining breast tissue to create a more lifted and youthful appearance.

Although the inverted-T technique results in the most extensive scarring compared to other breast reduction methods, it also provides the most comprehensive reshaping and reduction possibilities. This technique is particularly well-suited for women with very large breasts or those requiring a significant reduction in size.

Scars from the inverted-T technique will be present around the areola, vertically down the front of the breast, and horizontally along the breast crease. While these scars may be more noticeable initially, they typically fade and become less apparent over time. Most women find that the benefits of the surgery, such as reduced pain and improved body proportions, far outweigh any concerns about scarring.

2009 - Breast Reduction by Anthony MacQuillan Front

Vertical or Lollipop Incision Technique

The vertical or lollipop incision technique is an alternative to the inverted-T method, offering a less extensive scarring pattern. This technique involves two incisions: one around the areola and another vertically from the bottom of the areola to the breast crease.

Like the inverted-T technique, the incision around the areola allows for resizing and repositioning of the nipple-areola complex. The vertical incision enables the removal of excess breast tissue, fat, and skin while also providing access for reshaping the remaining breast tissue.

Scars from the vertical technique will be present around the areola and vertically down the front of the breast, resembling a lollipop shape. These scars may be more visible initially but will typically fade and become less noticeable over time.

The vertical technique may not be suitable for women with very large breasts or those requiring a significant reduction in size, as it may not allow for sufficient tissue removal and reshaping. In these cases, the inverted-T technique may be more appropriate.

Periareolar or Donut Incision Technique

The periareolar or donut incision technique involves a single incision made around the areola. This method results in the least amount of visible scarring compared to the inverted-T and vertical techniques.

During this procedure, Anthony creates a circular incision around the areola and removes a donut-shaped portion of skin, breast tissue, and fat. The remaining skin is then sutured together, and the areola is resized to match the new, reduced breast size.

Scars from the periareolar technique will be confined to the area around the areola and may be less noticeable than scars from other techniques, as they blend more easily with the natural pigmentation of the areola. However, the scar may still be visible, particularly in women with lighter skin tones.

It’s important to note that the periareolar technique may not be suitable for all patients, particularly those with very large breasts or those requiring a more substantial reduction. In these cases, the inverted-T or vertical techniques may be more appropriate to achieve the desired results.

How to Reduce Scars after Breast Reduction Surgery

While you can’t completely erase scars, you can take steps to help them fade and become less noticeable. Here are some tips for optimising your scar healing process:

Follow Post-Operative Care Instructions

Anthony will provide specific post-operative care instructions that are designed to promote healing and minimise scarring. These may include:

  • Keeping the Incisions Clean and Dry: Proper hygiene is essential to prevent infection, which can worsen scarring.
  • Wearing a Supportive Bra: A well-fitting bra can reduce strain on the incisions and support the breasts as they heal.
  • Avoiding Strenuous Activity: Heavy lifting and intense exercise can stress the incisions and affect healing.

Use Silicone Sheets or Gels

Silicone sheets and gels are commonly recommended for scar treatment. They work by hydrating the scar tissue, which can flatten and soften the scars over time. These products are usually applied once the incisions have fully closed and any scabs have fallen off.

Massage the Scars

Once Anthony gives the go-ahead, massaging your scars can help improve their appearance. Gentle massage can break down scar tissue and improve blood flow to the area, promoting better healing. Use a moisturiser or scar treatment cream to make the massage more effective.

Stay Out of the Sun

Sun exposure can darken scars and make them more noticeable. Protect your scars from the sun by wearing clothing that covers them or by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF. It’s important to continue protecting your scars from sun exposure for at least a year after surgery.

Professional Treatments for Scar Reduction

If you’re concerned about the appearance of your scars following breast reduction surgery, various professional treatments are available that can help. These treatments aim to reduce the visibility of scars, improve their texture, and make them blend more seamlessly with the surrounding skin. Below are some of the most effective professional treatments for scar reduction, including detailed explanations of how each treatment works, its benefits, and what you can expect during and after the procedure.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy is one of the most popular and effective treatments for reducing scar appearance. This technology uses focused light beams to target scar tissue and stimulate new, healthy skin growth. There are different types of lasers used in scar treatment, each designed for specific purposes.

Benefits of Laser Therapy

  • Reduces Redness: Laser therapy can effectively reduce the redness associated with scars by targeting blood vessels in the scar tissue.
  • Improves Texture: By stimulating collagen production, lasers can make the scar tissue smoother and more even.
  • Minimally Invasive: Laser treatments are generally minimally invasive, with little to no downtime required.

Laser therapy sessions typically last between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the size and number of scars being treated. Multiple sessions may be needed to achieve optimal results. After the treatment, you may experience some redness and swelling, similar to a sunburn, which usually subsides within a few days. It’s important to follow post-treatment care instructions, including avoiding sun exposure and using prescribed ointments to promote healing.

2004 - Breast Reduction by Anthony MacQuillan Front

Microneedling

Microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy, involves using a device with tiny needles to create controlled micro-injuries in the skin. These micro-injuries stimulate the body’s natural healing response, leading to increased collagen and elastin production, which are essential for healthy, smooth skin.

Benefits of Microneedling

  • Enhances Skin Texture: By promoting new collagen formation, microneedling can significantly improve the texture of scar tissue, making it less noticeable.
  • Minimally Invasive: The procedure involves minimal downtime, and most people can return to their normal activities within a day or two.
  • Versatile: Microneedling can be combined with other treatments, such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy or topical serums, to enhance results.

A typical microneedling session lasts about 30 to 45 minutes. A numbing cream is usually applied to the treatment area beforehand to minimise discomfort. After the procedure, your skin may appear red and slightly swollen, similar to a mild sunburn, for a few days. It’s crucial to keep the treated area clean and protected from the sun. Most people require multiple sessions spaced several weeks apart to achieve the best results.

Steroid Injections

Steroid injections are a common treatment for hypertrophic and keloid scars, which are thick, raised scars that can develop after surgery. These injections help to reduce the size and appearance of these types of scars by decreasing inflammation and flattening the scar tissue.

Benefits of Steroid Injections

  • Effective for Raised Scars: Steroid injections are particularly effective at reducing the height and thickness of hypertrophic and keloid scars.
  • Quick Results: Many people see an improvement in their scars after just one or two treatments.
  • Minimally Invasive: The procedure involves minimal discomfort and no downtime.

Steroid injections are usually administered in Anthony’s office. The number of injections and frequency of treatments will depend on the size and severity of your scars. Each session typically takes only a few minutes. You might experience some temporary redness and tenderness at the injection site, but these side effects usually subside quickly. Regular follow-up treatments may be necessary to maintain the results.

FAQs about Scars after Breast Reduction Surgery

How can my skin type affect the appearance of scars?

  • Your skin type can significantly influence how your scars heal and appear over time. For instance, individuals with darker skin tones may be more prone to developing hypertrophic or keloid scars, which are raised and can become more prominent. Conversely, those with fair skin might experience redness and prolonged healing. It’s essential to discuss your skin type with Anthony to understand what specific steps you can take to minimise scarring based on your unique characteristics.

Are there any preventative measures to reduce scarring before surgery?

  • Yes, there are steps you can take before surgery to help reduce the risk of noticeable scarring. Maintaining a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals can promote better skin health and healing. Additionally, avoiding smoking and staying well-hydrated can prepare your skin for better recovery post-surgery. Discussing pre-surgery skin care routines with Anthony can also provide personalised advice tailored to your skin type and health needs.

What role does genetics play in scar formation?

  • Genetics can play a significant role in how your body heals and forms scars. If you have a family history of problematic scarring, such as keloids or hypertrophic scars, you might be more predisposed to developing similar issues. It’s important to inform Anthony about any family history of unusual scarring so they can consider this in their surgical plan and post-operative care recommendations.

Can hormonal changes affect scar healing?

  • Hormonal changes, such as those occurring during pregnancy, menopause, or due to hormonal therapies, can affect how your body heals and scars. Hormones can influence skin elasticity, thickness, and overall healing capacity. Discussing any hormonal treatments or changes with Anthony before surgery can help them provide tailored advice and care to optimise your healing process and minimise scarring.

Are there natural remedies that can help improve scar appearance?

  • Several natural remedies can support the healing process and improve the appearance of scars. Ingredients like aloe vera, vitamin E, and coconut oil are commonly recommended for their moisturising and healing properties. While these natural treatments can be beneficial, it’s important to use them as part of a broader scar care regimen and to consult Anthony before trying any new remedies to ensure they are safe and suitable for your skin.

Further Reading about Breast Surgery with Consultant Plastic Surgeon Anthony MacQuillan

Medical References about Scars after Breast Reduction Surgery