Breast reduction surgery

Large breasts can dominate a woman's appearance and make you look unbalanced and make exercise difficult or even impossible to do. Breast reduction surgery is a procedure for reshaping exceptionally large breasts surgically to increase your comfort and satisfaction. Overly large breasts frequently have a considerable affect on self-confidence and can even affect personal relationships. The aim of surgery is to give you smaller, shapelier breasts that are in proportion to the rest of your body.

Breast Reduction Surgery Procedure

The most common procedure involves an anchor-shaped incision that circles the areola and extends down in a vertical line it will then follow the natural curve of the crease beneath the breast. Excess breast tissue, fat and skin are then removed and the nipples and remaining underlying tissues are then moved to a new higher location. The skin from both sides of the breast is then brought down and around the areola shaping the new contour of the breast and sutured.

How long does breast reduction surgery take?

Breast reduction is performed under general anaesthesia and usually takes about 2 to 3.5 hours depending on each individual patient and the extent of surgery. The length of stay in hospital will be mainly determined by you, many patients are able to go home on the day of the surgery but some remain in the hospital for 1-2 days.

What can I expect from the surgery?

Your expectations need to be realistic. Most patients are pleased with the outcome and find they have smaller, lighter, and firmer breasts. You will be freed from the physical discomfort of large breasts and your body will be better proportioned therefore in most cases giving a new-found confidence.

Recovery after Breast Reduction Surgery

What will happen in the recovery period?

The breast will be bandaged for support and can be removed a day or two after surgery but you will have to continue wearing a surgical bra 24 hrs a day for 1-2 weeks while the swelling and bruising subside. There will be considerable swelling and bruising of the breasts which usually lasts 2-3 weeks. Almost all the stitches used will simply dissolve but if there are any clips they will be removed after 5 days of surgery. The scars are quite lengthy and may take many months or years to settle. You will have follow-up visits in the months after surgery to check on your progress.

What is the recovery time?

Depending on the individual patient recovery times will vary. You should be up and about in a day or two but your breasts may still ache occasionally for a couple of weeks. Most patients will return to work with 14 days but this is down to the individual. Avoid any strenuous activity for at least 6 weeks and limit your exercises to stretching and swimming.

What are the benefits of breast reduction surgery?

Having large breasts may determine a wide range of medical problems such as back and neck pain, skin irritation, breathing problems and other issues. But besides the physical issues there are also psychological problems related to the size of the breasts. A woman with large breasts may feel frustrated by the way she looks, diminishing her self confidence.

So, it appears that the benefits of breast reduction surgery can be both physical and psychological.

The goal of breast reduction is usually to achieve the following

* having smaller, lighter and firmer breasts
* relieving the pain associated with heavy breasts
* improving asthma
* re-establishing the breasts proportion with the rest of the body
* reducing the size of the areola
* equalizing different size breasts
* removing the physical discomfort in general

The psychological benefits are important as well. The breast reduction can improve the woman's self esteem and cure the psychological trauma.
How is breast reduction surgery performed?

Individual characteristics and personal preferences will determine the specific technique selected to reduce the breasts size. It is advisable to discuss the method with the surgeon before the operation.

The most common used technique of reducing the breasts involves three incisions. One incision is made around the areola. Another runs vertically from the bottom edge of the areola to the crease underneath the breast. The third incision follows the natural curve of the breast crease. The three incisions have an anchor shape. This is why the method is known as "the anchor shaped incision" technique.

After removing excess fat, skin and breast tissue, the surgeon shifts the nipple and areola to a higher position. The areola is reduced in size as well if the patient wishes.

Usually the nipples and areolas remain attached to their blood vessels and nerves, thus allowing for the sensation preservation. Breast feeding can also be preserved by using this method, though it is not guaranteed. In rare cases, due to the stretched skin and tissues that support the breasts, the nipples and areolas need to be entirely removed from the breasts. Afterwards they are grafted back into a higher position. The loss of sensation may occur if nipple and areola are moved in this way.

The incisions are closed with stitches. Small tubes are used for draining the blood and will be removed in a day or two.

The procedure is commonly performed under general anesthesia, meaning the patient will sleep through the entire operation.

What risks are associated with breast reduction surgery?

Serious complications due to breast reduction surgery are quite rare. This explains why thousands of women undergo this operation every year, being satisfied with the results. Breast reduction surgery is known to have the highest patient satisfaction rate of all cosmetic surgeries. However, as with any surgery procedure, patients need to be aware of the potential risks.

The complications that may occur can be the following:


This type of complication may occur after any surgery, although it is quite infrequent. Prior to the operation, the patient is given antibiotics.
Bleeding and Clot Formation

Some patients can lose blood after a breast reduction and the drains do not drain all of the blood. A collection of blood can collect under the breast (haematoma) that enlarges and can become painful.

If this occurs the patient has to undergo another operation in order to have the clot drained and the bleeding stopped.

However, bleeding can be avoided by injecting a mixture of salt water with adrenalin in the breasts before the actual surgery.


There may be several different scars and these scars will remain more or less visible, depending on each individual. They could also burst and require a new surgery for scar revision. Other methods used to better heal the scars are: using micro-pore tape, moisturising creams or steroid injections.

Nipple Necrosis

This complication is exceedingly rare. It means that the nipple or surrounding areola is lost and dies.

Altered Nipple Sensation

Some patients may experience loss of nipple sensitivity. On the other hand, a small minority of patients may develop nipple hypersensitivity.

Asymmetry (unevenness)

After the surgery, it is possible that the breasts be slightly asymmetric. If the unevenness is annoying for the patient, a new operation may be needed.

Breast Feeding Potential

Breast feeding may be possible after this surgery due to the modern techniques. If the patient wants to be able breast feed, it is advisable to mention this fact to the cosmetic surgeon.

Even if the patient already knows the whole range of complications, she should discuss it in detail with the cosmetic surgeon before the operation.