Breast reduction is a surgical procedure performed to reduce the size of your breasts and enhance their shape, leaving them more in proportion with your body. Breast size and shape can affect a woman’s health, well being, self-image, psyche and lifestyle. The operation is one of the most commonly performed, the results are predictable and the women who have this operation are amongst the happiest in any plastic surgeon’s practice.
If you are considering a breast reduction operation, this information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure – when it can help, how it is performed and the results you can expect.
Ideally you should be a normal weight for your height, and not overweight, when the operation is done. Any woman with large breasts may be a candidate for the operation, especially if your breasts are causing you to suffer from any of the following:
A breast reduction operation can improve your self-image, self-confidence and self-esteem.
Usually the operation is not performed until a woman’s breasts are fully developed, from late teens onwards. Occasionally, marked breast growth can occur in early puberty, warranting the performance of the operation in the teens.
At the initial consultation, I will discuss your thoughts and needs with you and elicit a past medical history. At this stage, I will assess whether breast reduction is suitable for you and whether the operation will meet your specific needs. Your breasts will then be examined and measured.
It is important to bring to my attention any previous breast problems that you may have had. Such problems would include breast lumps, nipple discharge, breast pain, breast cancer and any other surgery you might have had on the breasts. You should also inform your surgeon if you have any family history of breast cancer, particularly in your mother or sisters. Tell your surgeon if you are on any long-term medication, have any allergies, have a tendency to bleed or bruise easily, have had any previous surgery, have had any previous problems with local or general anaesthesia, or if you have any chronic medical ailments.
Smoking is NOT allowed in the pre-operative period – you should be off all cigarettes and nicotine patches for at least 2 weeks before your operation.
Depending on your age and past history I may well suggest a pre-operative mammogram and some basic blood tests.
The actual operation is performed under general anaesthetic and takes 2-3 hours. The usual scars form an anchor shape around the nipple, down to the crease under the breast and then along this crease out to the sides. For small reductions I will often use a vertical scar and combine this with some liposuction.
You will wake pretty much pain free, with dressings and drains in place. You will spend 1-2 nights in hospital and go home with oral painkillers and wearing a well-fitting sports bra, which you wear most of the time. As the dressings are shower-proof you may shower at will. You will need help at home for the first week or so, especially if you have young children, and you will not be able to drive until pain free and confident.
In general, breast reduction is associated with a high degree of patient satisfaction and the vast majority of women are very pleased with their results. Nevertheless, no surgery is without risk, and I will explain the risks and possible side effects of treatment with you at your consultation. Possible complications include:
Recovery can take up to three weeks and you are not advised to return to work during the recovery period. I will advise you about exercise and when to return to work. All your stitches will dissolve on their own.
Because this is a common plastic surgery procedure, the results are quite predictable. After the operation, many women report a feeling of increased self-esteem and self-confidence and reduced self-consciousness. Physical discomfort from having large breasts is also greatly reduced. You must remember that if you are planning on having more children, breast-feeding will almost certainly be inadequate.
Although much of the swelling and bruising will disappear in the first few weeks, it may be six months to a year before your breasts settle into their new shape. Even then, their shape may fluctuate in response to your hormonal shifts, weight changes and pregnancy. Although every effort will be made to ensure that your scars are as inconspicuous as possible, it is important to remember that breast reduction scars are extensive and permanent. They may remain red and slightly prominent for months, before fading to thin white lines.
I can discuss the exact nature of your treatment, including procedure details, recovery times and any possible side effects, at a consultation. This will reflect your exact circumstances and needs. The information included here is for general guidance only.