Breast reduction surgery may be suitable for women with large breasts that are affecting their posture and self-confidence
Breast reduction surgery carries one of the highest satisfaction rates of any cosmetic procedure. It can help improve physical symptoms such as neck/ back pain, shoulder grooving and difficulty exercising and finding suitable clothing. Additionally, most women considering breast reduction feel self-conscious about their breasts, and many do not like the unwanted attention.
What is the best age to have a breast reduction?
Women of any age can have a breast reduction, if they are suitable, and feel that their symptoms are significantly affecting their lives. Most breasts are fully mature by the time you have reached 18 years of age. It is not uncommon to perform the procedure in younger women who have not had children. Many choose to have the operation later in life after completing their families. It is not unusual for older women who have had surgery, to say that they wished they had had the operation years ago.
Will a breast reduction lift my nipples and breast as well?
All breast reduction surgery involves an uplift and reshaping procedure to raise the height of the nipple and give a better shape to the breast. The operation can also be used to improve breast asymmetry when an overall reduction in size is desired. There are a large number of techniques available and these need to be tailored to your individual needs.
What if I am overweight?
You can expect better cosmetic results and fewer complications if you are at or near your ideal body weight. We do operate on women who are overweight as long as they understand the limitations. For some women, exercise is a problem with large breasts, and they find it easier to exercise and lose weight after the procedure.
Is breast reduction a long procedure?
Breast reduction surgery is a significant surgical operation, often taking 2-3 hours. It is essential that patients are aware of the potential complications and the surgical scars involved.
What about pregnancy and breastfeeding?
Breast reduction may be carried out before or after pregnancy. Some studies have suggested that the ability to breastfeed is similar in women who have had breast reductions compared to those who have not. You do, however, need to be prepared for the fact that you might not be able to breastfeed after breast reduction surgery.
What types of breast reduction are available?
There are many different techniques to reduce a breast. All techniques involve three basic principles:
- Moving the nipple-areola to a higher position
- Removing excess breast tissue
- Removal of skin to tighten the breast
The resultant scars following breast reduction surgery can either be “lollipop” (vertical) or “anchor” shaped in nature:
Vertical scar breast reduction
With a vertical scar reduction/ lift, the scar is described as a lollipop scar – around the nipple and vertically down below it towards the breast crease. This technique can be used for moderate breast reductions.
Anchor shaped breast reduction
An anchor-shaped reduction is the most common type of reduction in our practice. The scars are around the nipple, vertically and along the breast crease. This type of procedure allows for the correction of significant breast enlargement and droopiness and can give the most consistent results.
How long do breast reduction scars take to settle down?
The main downside to breast reduction surgery is the fact that it leaves scars. Most women are well prepared for scarring as they have researched the procedure beforehand and will have been shown several before and after photos. Scars can take up to 18 months to fully mature, sometimes longer. Most before and after photos show results at around six months when the scars can still be quite red. You can expect significant improvement and fading of the colour beyond six months, and there is considerable variability between patients.
How do you move the nipple up, do you have to detach it?
In order to move the nipples up to a higher position on the breast, a cut is made around them. The areola is reduced in size as it has usually been stretched. The nipple remains attached to the underlying breast tissue so that it can keep a blood supply. It is the underlying breast tissue that is repositioned with the nipple attached to it so that it can sit at a higher position on the breast.
What is the recovery like?
You will spend 1-2 nights in the hospital. You will be seen in the dressing clinic 1 week after surgery and then a few days later to have stitches removed. You should take at least 1-2 weeks off work to rest. The wounds should be fully healed by 2 weeks but small areas of delayed healing are common so full healing can take longer. Light exercise can usually be resumed at 4 weeks and you should be fully recovered by 6 weeks.
How long will it take for my breast shape to settle?
Initially, your breasts will be tight and can look a little “boxy” in shape. By 6 months they will look much more rounded and will continue to improve in shape for up to 18 months.
What are the risks?
What are the possible complications of breast reduction surgery?
Possible complications of breast reduction surgery include:
Bleeding which may require a return to theatre
Infection can occur and may require treatment with antibiotics
Delayed wound healing is not uncommon, especially small areas at the “T junction” of the scars. The T junction is where most of the tightness is after removing and closing the skin
Changes in nipple sensitivity are an expected outcome – nipples can sometimes be more sensitive or less sensitive, and sensitivity will change over time
Nipple loss is a very rare complication. There is a higher risk in smokers and where a substantial reduction is required
Breastfeeding – the possibility of reduced ability to breastfeed although several studies show women who have had breast reduction are just as likely to be able to breastfeed as those who have not had breast reduction surgery
Minor residual asymmetry is common as breasts are rarely perfectly symmetrical
The scars are permanent and may be unpredictable and red for some time – most women rarely complain about the nature of scars following breast reduction – scars usually stretch over time and fade in colour
Under or over correction – removing too much or too little breast tissue – final size can never be guaranteed – patients rarely ever mention that they feel too much tissue has been removed
Revision – a small number of patients <5% may require some minor revision which can usually be performed under local anaesthetic
How much does it cost?
Breast reduction from £5500
All inclusive costs for one year following surgery
Further reading on breast reduction