Thinking of undergoing a breast reduction?

Breast reduction (or reduction mammoplasty) is a surgical procedure that reduces, lifts and reshapes the breast.

The procedure is aimed at removing excessive breast and fatty tissue, leaving you with an overall smaller and better-shaped breast.

Why breast reduction?

The operation seeks to relieve symptoms and pains caused by very large breasts. Overly large breasts can cause health issues and emotional problems for some women. In addition to self-image issues, it can also cause physical pain and discomfort. This includes back pain, neck pain, breast tenderness, shoulder grooving (from bra straps), intertrigo (rash between folds of skin), and overall breast discomfort.

Breast reduction surgery is used to remove excess breast fat, glandular tissue and skin to achieve a breast size in proportion with your body. The procedure is designed to alleviate the discomfort associated with overly large breasts.

What does it involve?

Many breast reduction procedures usually call for just one vertical incision around the areola down to the breast crease, and in some cases along the crease as well. A portion of fat and excess tissue is then removed. The nipple and areola are then pertly repositioned and the skin under the breast is re-sculpted. This results in smaller breasts that have a more aesthetically pleasing shape and improved support, lift and overall fullness.

Breast reduction surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic. Women going in for a breast reduction should expect to spend one to three nights in hospital following the two to three hour operation, depending on the amount of tissue removed.

While you are healing, you may experience some pain, bruising, swelling and numbness around the operated site. The recuperation period lasts for around three weeks. Depending on the extent of your procedure, you may need to take a few days off work to rest. Avoid heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, swimming and strenuous sports until advised by your surgeon.

Scars are an inevitable part of any invasive surgery. The resulting scar can usually be seen from around the nipple down to the breast crease in a vertical line, and may fade over 12 – 18 months after the procedure. This scar generally takes longer than other types of scarring to settle.

It takes approximately three months for the breasts to relax into their new shape, as gravity takes effect and swelling begins to reduce.

Is it right for me?

Breast reduction surgery may not be suitable for everyone. Your surgeon will thoroughly assess your condition and general health, and plan the treatment that is best suited to you.

Breast reduction surgery may be a good option if:

  • You are physically healthy
  • You have realistic expectations
  • Your breasts are fully developed
  • You are bothered by the feeling that your breasts are too large
  • Your breasts limit your physical activity
  • You experience back, neck and shoulder pain caused by the weight of your breasts

Possible side effects

As with any type of surgery there is a potential for risks and complications to occur. Some possible side effects include:

  • Alteration of nipple sensation
  • Breakdown of nipple or areola
  • Reduced possibilities of breastfeeding
  • Infection or bleeding
  • Fat necrosis (hard and tender lumps around the breast)
  • Asymmetry of breasts