How Does the Doctore Determine What to Remove in a Breast Reduction?

My back hurts all the time, I have tried pt with no luck so I was referred for a breast reduction. Based on my frame the doctor wanted to remove 543 grams my insurance denied it stating they wanted 840 grams removed. I could care less if the other 300 grams is removed but I am assuming there is some type of a formula the dr uses to determine how much to remove. Does anyone know what that is so I can try to lose weight to achieve that goal. Thank you

Doctor Answers 11

Determine what to remove in a breast reduction

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First of all we DO NOT operate upon a patient based on an insurance expectation. Plastic surgery has an artistic component. We wish to improve the appearance. And if I determine to remove only 500 gms but the insurance wants 501 gms to pay for the surgery and hospital and anesthesia, well to bad. What if I removed 1,000 gms and the insurance only wanted 500 gms, do I get paid double? OF course NOT!. I recommend you ask for a review and get 2 more PS letters to support the claim or predetermination letter.

In regards to where I remove the tissue, YES there is a standard pattern used but as PS we adapt to the exact individual patients' dimensions, appearance, and anatomic issues. This is the old McKissock "key hole" pattern, all recent ADAPTIONS ARE BASED ON THIS CONCEPT.

From MIAMI Dr. B

Breast Reduction and Tissue Removed?

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Congratulations on your decision to proceed with breast reduction surgery. It is one of the most patient pleasing operations we performed. It will likely be in your best interest to reach a long-term stable weight prior to proceeding with the surgery.

Unfortunately, there is no direct correlation between the amount of tissue removed and the ultimate cup size that a patient will wear after breast reduction surgery.

Before undergoing the breast reduction procedure it is very important to communicate your size goals with your surgeon.  In my practice, the use of photographs of “goal” pictures (and breasts that are too big or too small) is very helpful. I have found that the use of words such as “natural” or “C cup” or "fake looking" means different things to different people and therefore prove unhelpful.
Also, as you know, cup size varies depending on who makes the bra; therefore, discussing desired cup  size may also be inaccurate.

Best wishes.

Breast reduction formula

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There is no formula for volume removal. Much is dependent on what the patient wants to end up with. Some patients have been so disabled by large breast they they would even consent to a mastectomy just to get the weight and bulk off. We usually prefer to leave the patient with what she might consider to an attractive breast. It is nit so much what we take off but what we leave behind. The insurance companies like to quantify the volume removed because it indicates to them whether it was a significant volume to cause symptoms. They may have a "quota" but it is used only as a guide after the surgery, not as a mandate for surgeons.

As far a weight loss is concerned., I would recommend trying to lose what weight you want and get into the best fitness level possible before surgery.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Determination of Volume Reduction in Breast Reduction

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I think we can all agree that the actual weight of large breasts on a 5 foot 95 pound woman may not appear very large on a 6'1" 195 pound woman. And yet for years insurers insisted that for a breast reduction to be distinguished from a breast lift at least 500 grams had to be reduced from each breast. Totally illogical since in the petite woman that could represent a almost complete breast removal while in the large woman the volume may not be sufficient to correct the symptoms of large breasts.

In the 1990's many insurance company adopted Dr. P. Schnur's formula which related the patient's body surface area to the amount of breast weight that would need to be removed to provide relief. This made the weight request less arbitrary and more dependent on the size of the woman. I SUSPECT your surgeon picked his numbers from this scale. However, some insurers do not want to pay up on "breast benefits" and simply raise their required breast removal weights to levels which would greatly flatten the breasts to dissuade women from having the operation done. Before agreeing to lose over >800 grams from each breast make sure your Plastic surgeon feels the weight is reasonable and would not deform you (A or B cup breast).

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Breast reduction

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Breast Reduction is a complicated procedure that is best done by those with the most training and experience. It is very difficult to determine the resultant cup size and shape based solely on the number of grams that are removed from your breast to best match your ideal breast image without an examination by a board certified plastic surgeon. Not just any board certified plastic surgeon, but one with many years of frequently performing breast reduction and lift surgeries, including different approaches, techniques and even fat transfer and implant choices if you are lacking superior breast fullness.
This is because several measurements—not to mention breast characteristics such as density—are needed to determine how much and where to remove breast tissue to meet your goals. Without knowing your existing breast shape, dimensions, and the density of your breast tissue, it would be difficult to make this determination. For example, the same volume of breast tissue will weigh different amounts (measured in ounces or grams) in different people depending on its density. The existing base width of your breast and what you will ultimately want to look like will determine, in many cases, the maximal volume and weight that will need to be removed for the best result.

Please click on the link below for more information!

Determining breast reduction volume...

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Hi there-

There are really three issues here-

1. The amount of breast tissue your insurance company wants you to have removed in order for them to pay for it.

2. The maximum amount that a well-qualified and Board Certified Plastic Surgeon believes could be removed.

3. The amount that such a qualified surgeon RECOMMENDS you have removed in order for you to achieve both symptomatic improvement AND an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

It is unfortunately very rare nowadays for insurance companies to pay for breast reduction.

Breast reduction

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Unfortunately more and more insurance companies do not want to pay for breast reduction anymore whether or not patients have actual symptoms of very large breasts.

Breast reduction amounts

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It is disturbing that the insurance company is mandating a certain amount of tisse be removed based on your size, etc.  They used to have a minimum or 500 grams of tissue removed to be covered, but most insurance carriers did away with this since each patient is different with regards to how much weight makes a difference. 

Before surgery, during the planning, and then during surgery, the surgeon has three goals - remove excess tissue, reshape the breast to the appropriate size for the patient's frame, and do this all while being safe and keeping as much blood supply and sensation to the nipple.  This is what really determines how much gets removed.

How much breast tissue should be removed in a reduction

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There is actually no formula that we use to determine this. It is based on the patient's size, height, frame, weight, and on the surgeon's experience. We can guess how much we will be removing, but that is truly a guess. We can never really tell until we are in the operating room. A very important part of this is a long discussion with the patient to determine their wishes. However, it would be unwise to remove more breast tissue just to satisfy an insurance company. For that reason, and that reason alone, many surgeons and patients do the procedure outside of insurance and pay for it just like any other "cosmetic" procedure. Good luck. 

Sirish Maddali, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon

How much to remove in breast reduction

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The way a surgeon determines how much to remove in a breast is an art, not a science.  The art is to shape the breast down to a size than balances with the rest of your body.  This comes with experience and some have more sculpting talent than others.  You don't want to over-reduce the patient because it won't look right and you may lose too much blood supply to the tissues that they might not survive. 

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.