The SPAIR Breast Reduction Technique

Written by Timothy McGee, MD, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on March 18, 2022 No Comments

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Breast reduction surgery reduces the size of the breasts, bringing them into proportion with the body’s frame size. Breast reduction surgery is not merely cosmetic in nature, but can provide relief from back pain or poor posture, and can make it easier to fit into clothes and participate in physical activity. While there are many different breast reduction techniques, the SPAIR Breast Reduction Technique is an improvement over traditional surgical practices for its ability to reduce scarring and enhance results.

What is the SPAIR Technique?

SPAIR, or Short-Scar Periareolar Inferior Pedicle Reduction, improves upon older methods of breast reduction by minimizing scarring while improving long-term results and speeding recovery.

Reduced Scarring: 

In the past, breast reduction surgery was performed with three incisions. One around the areola, one lateral incision underneath each breast, and a third vertical incision connecting the two. These three incisions are collectively referred to as an anchor-shaped incision.

The SPAIR method uses only one incision. The incision circumnavigates the areola then travels vertically toward the bottom crease of the breast.

Improved Shape: 

Traditional breast reduction incisions would often interfere with the natural curves of the breast. Additionally, glandular tissue tends to settle downward as incisions heal, creating what’s known as a bottomed-out look.

With the SPAIR method, the post-surgical shape of the breast is better maintained over time, as the integrity of the breast tissue is less disturbed.

Faster Recovery:

Fewer, shorter incisions lead to a quicker recovery, making SPAIR a preferred method for many patients.

How is SPAIR Breast Reduction Performed?

With a SPAIR breast reduction, excess skin and glandular tissue is removed using just one incision. During the procedure, the nipple remains attached to its pedicle, while excess skin and glandular tissue from the area around the nipple and areola complex are removed.

With the SPAIR procedure, breast tissue can be shaped as breast size is reduced, allowing for more upper breast fullness and less likelihood of bottoming out. Maintaining the integrity of tissue underneath the breast crease also results in a better-defined breast shape.

The SPAIR incision eliminates the need for a lateral incision underneath the breast crease. While a vertical scar below the areola is unavoidable, a skilled surgeon can minimize the appearance of this thin line.

What is Recovery Like Following SPAIR Breast Reduction?

Although the SPAIR method greatly reduces recovery time, patients undergoing breast reduction surgery should still plan to take 2 weeks off from work, school or other in-person commitments.

Days 1-2: Plan to have a family member or trusted friend drive you home and stay with you for the first few days. You’ll be sent home with compression bandages, pain medications and post-surgical care instructions.

Week 1: Get plenty of rest, drink water and eat healthy whole foods. Prioritize healing above all other activities. Follow your doctor’s advice regarding compression garments and wound care. During this time, you’ll be scheduled for a follow up appointment to have your stitches removed.

Week 2 and Beyond: Swelling will continue to decline. You’ll be cleared to return to work and light daily activity after 2 weeks. At this time, ask your doctor about when it’s ok to resume moderate exercise or lifting objects overhead. Full recovery may take anywhere from 4-6 weeks.

Who is a Good Candidate for SPAIR Breast Reduction?

Breast reduction surgery is for any woman who feels self-conscious about their breast size. You may have trouble fitting into clothes or undergarments, feel uncomfortable when running or exercising, or you may have back pain or poor posture as a result of large breasts. Click here to learn more about candidacy for breast reduction.

Men with enlarged breasts or gynecomastia may also benefit from SPAIR breast reduction in place of liposuction or other treatments.

With the SPAIR technique, breasts of any size can be successfully reduced. Speak with your surgeon about your expectations for the procedure itself, recovery and the outcome.

As with any surgical procedure, you should be physically healthy and if you smoke, willing to stop smoking in the weeks prior to surgery.

What are the Risks?

Side effects of breast reduction surgery include the following.

  • Infection
  • Excessive swelling, bruising or bleeding
  • Unexpected scarring
  • Loss of sensation in breast or nipple
  • Side effects related to anesthesia
  • Need for additional or revisional surgery

These side effects are minimized when the procedure is performed by an experienced, board-certified surgeon.

Benefits of SPAIR vs Traditional Breast Reduction

SPAIR breast reduction surgery offers potentially superior results to traditional breast reduction techniques. Benefits include the following:

  • Less Scarring: Fewer incisions are made, resulting in less risk of visible, hypertrophic scarring.
  • Improved Shape: Shaping, lifting or reconstructing the breasts is made easier, with results that last longer.
  • Quicker Recovery: Fewer, shorter incisions result in a quicker recovery and healing process.

If you think breast reduction surgery may be right for you, consulting with a professional is your next step.

Timothy McGee, MD

Dr. McGee has been practicing plastic surgery for more than 18 years in all areas of the field, including cosmetic surgery and reconstructive breast and facial surgery. Dr. McGee is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery. He has numerous hospital affiliations in the Round Rock and greater Austin areas and is a member of the American Society of plastic Surgeons, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, American College of Surgeons and Austin Smiles.

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