Breast reduction

Breast reduction is one of the best cosmetic plastic surgery operations in terms of changing the lives of those who have it done. Many say after the operation that they ‘wish they’d had it done years ago’.

Large breasted women can experience considerable teasing, as well as physical and emotional distress. In addition to psychological trauma, large breasts are associated with neck, shoulder and back pain caused simply by their weight. Soreness and raw skin under the breasts is common. It is usual for those with larger breasts to wear loose clothing to disguise their figures.

Breast reduction surgery can be a solution to these issues as it involves removing excess tissue to reshape your breasts and achieve the smaller bust you desire.


Breast reduction: frequently asked questions 

Is a breast reduction suitable for me?
Breast reduction surgery is, as with any cosmetic procedure, a big decision you’ll want to think about carefully. If you are experiencing physical discomfort or emotional distress due to the size of your breasts then you could be a suitable candidate for this procedure. Additionally, if you are experiencing medical problems as a result of your chest size, a breast reduction could be appropriate for you.

It isn’t just women who can benefit from reduction surgery. Chest reductions are suitable for men with gynaecomastia (moobs), a condition typified by an excess of fatty tissue in the chest region.

Breast reduction surgery changes the size of your breasts, and will also lift them to the correct height of your chest making them more “pert”.

After breast reduction, it is not possible to breastfeed. If this is of concern to you then perhaps it may be wise to delay the operation until a more appropriate time.


How small will my breasts be after surgery?
Most women wish to be a size that provides a feminine bust lifted to the correct height without being unmanageable. Others may say that they want to be “as small as possible”, whilst those with a large frame may prefer to have larger than average breasts after surgery.

Your consultant will discuss the options with you and you will decide and agree on what size you want your breasts to become.

On examination, your consultant will document breast size, nipple height (distance from your nipple to the top of the breastbone) and the size of the areola. Any asymmetry will be noted. During the operation, your surgeon will try to make the breasts as symmetrical as possible.


What happens during the breast reduction operation?
Breast reduction is carried out under general anaesthetic and requires a one night stay in hospital. The procedure takes approximately two and a half hours.

Before the operation, your surgeon will draw lines to mark out and plan the incisions, where the scars will be and the proposed new site for the nipple.

During surgery, excess breast tissue and skin is removed. The nipple is kept alive on a stalk of tissue which carries its blood supply. The nipple is turned upwards and repositioned to a point approximately level with the middle of the upper arm.

The scar line on the new breast will go around the edge of the nipple in its new position and then down to the crease under the breast. In some cases, it is possible to leave just this single vertical scar.

Dissolving sutures will be used which will not need to be removed. A light dressing will be applied. Drains are used by some surgeons at the end of the operation to remove fluid after the operation.  If these are used, they will be removed on the first post-operative day. Long acting local anaesthetic is used along the stitch lines at the end of the operation so that when you wake up there is as little discomfort as possible.


What happens after breast reduction surgery?
Following surgery, your breasts will feel a bit uncomfortable, but not very painful. This pain is easily relieved by taking one or two mild pain killers which will be provided.

Bruising may be present and swelling may cause your new breasts to appear larger than anticipated. Bruising will be gone by 2 weeks. Swelling will take six weeks to settle down.

Immediately after surgery, your new breast size will be apparent but the final shape may take around three months to emerge. The wounds should be kept clean to allow sound healing to occur. Showering and getting the wounds wet is fine but you should not have a bath until the wounds have completely closed.

During this period wear a crop top or lycra vest. Wearing a bra will be too uncomfortable. A sports bra will be comfortable from about a month and underwire bras from about two months.

Numbness of the nipples and the surrounding skin is common after breast reduction. However, most people recover sensation up to a year after surgery.

You may drive after 10 days. Do not return to vigorous exercise for 6 weeks. Also, it is advisable not to make any travel plans for 6 weeks.

The scars will initially be hard, red, raised and lumpy and can take up to 12 months to become pale and flat, depending on the healing qualities of the individual. Firm pressure on these scars with a well-fitting bra will help if this is a problem.


What sort of scarring can I expect?
After surgery, you will have some scarring but this will not be visible in low-cut tops, bikini tops or bras. Over the next twelve months, you can also expect these scars to fade down to your natural skin tone.

The scar line on the new breast will go around the edge of the nipple in its new position and then down to the crease under the breast. In some cases, it is possible to leave just this single vertical scar.

However, if there is a large amount of breast tissue and loose skin to be removed then there will also be a scar line in the crease under the breast.

The outer part of the breast at the side of the chest is sometimes very full but too far away to correct without leaving a long scar. In this situation, it is possible to perform liposuction as part of the procedure to get the required result. In some cases, liposuction can also be used to reduce fullness in the armpit area.

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