Large breasts can cause a variety of problems for women of all
ages. Many put up with this inconvenience for years before deciding
to do something about it. Although losing weight through exercise
and dieting may help it is often not enough. Following reduction
surgery most patients are delighted with the results and are amazed
at the difference that it makes to their lives. They often comment
that they wish that they had got on with the surgery years ago!
Common complaints include:
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Bra strap marks and furrows
- Skin irritation and infection in the fold under the breast
- Problems with fitting into clothes particularly bras and
- Limiting activity in sport and social activities
- Social embarrassment
Breast reduction is frequently performed to deal with these
symptoms rather than purely for cosmetic reasons. The aim of
surgery is to make the breasts smaller and lighter.
At the initial consultation you will have a careful breast
examination. Measurements and photographs may be taken. If you are
over 30 years of age you will probably be advised to have a
mammogram to ensure that there are no underlying breast problems
prior to the surgery. You will need to discuss your preferred
breast size. Many women considering reduction are aiming to have a
B cup size.
You will require a general anaesthetic and the operation usually
takes about 3-4 hours.
There are a number of different surgical procedures available
depending on the size and shape of the breast, previous scars and
any medical conditions that may affect healing. The most common
operation involves an inferior pedicle procedure. The nipple is
preserved on an island of breast tissue with its blood supply
intact. Excess surrounding tissue is removed. The skin is brought
together and the nipple is stitched into place. All sutures are
placed under the skin and will dissolve in due course. A small
suction drain is left to remove any blood or fluid and this will be
taken out before you go home the next day.
You will spend one night in hospital. The incisions will heal in
10 - 14 days. You should avoid strenuous activity for 4-6 weeks to
avoid discomfort and to allow the tissue to recover
Most patients make a quick recovery and significant problems
related to the surgery are uncommon. You should be aware of the
1. Bruising: You may have some bruising that
will settle over a period of weeks.
2. Bleeding: There is a small chance of
bleeding following surgery. The drains will deal with small amounts
of blood. Very occasionally there may be more extensive bleeding
from a larger vessel. This will require returning to theatre to
deal with the problem effectively.
3. Infection: There is a small risk of
infection that may require antibiotics.
4. Scarring: It is important to understand that
there will be scarring. With the inferior pedicle technique this
will consist of a line around the areola and extending down to the
crease under the breast. The line will also run along the length of
the crease under the breast. These scars will initially be quite
red and lumpy. Over a period of months they will gradually fade and
become less obvious.
5. Sensation: Some patients may notice
decreased sensation or numbness in the skin over the breast or in
the nipple. This often settles down but may be permanent. There
will be some swelling of the breast tissue immediately after
surgery and you may experience occasional stabbing pains and
tingling during the recovery period.