Vertical Scar Breast Reduction: Does Gathering the Incision Matter?

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The vertical scar bilateral breast reduction is a highly effective technique to reduce breast volume and create long-lasting aesthetic improvements. A cited disadvantage is the inability to adequately shorten the vertical scar, leading to chest wall scars or inframammary puckers. Gathering or cinching sutures have been described as a strategy to confront this issue. This article aims to determine if suture gathering is an effective methods to (1) reduce the incision length, (2) shorten the areola-to-inframammary fold (IMF) distance, and (3) reduce the pucker revision rate.


All patients undergoing vertical breast reduction performed by the senior author (E.H.F.) from 2001 to 2007 were included. The patient population was divided into “gather” and “no gather” groups depending on how the vertical incision was closed.


There were 203 patients in the “no gather” group and 193 in the “gather” group. Age, body mass index, and resection weight were statistically but not clinically different. The percent reduction in vertical incision length was significantly greater in the “gather” group (34.2 ± 9.9% vs. 12.2 ± 5.9%). Both groups showed a gradual lengthening of areola-to-IMF distance postoperatively. Suture gathering had no impact on the pucker revision rate but increased healing complications.


Gathering sutures significantly reduce the incision length in the operating room but do not change the areola-to-IMF distance or pucker revision rate. Gathering negatively influences skin vascularity and wound healing. It is acceptable and necessary to have a longer areola-to-IMF distance in a vertical reduction to accommodate increased projection.

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