Breast reduction surgery removes excess tissue and fat from the breast, leaving the breast smaller and more shapely and lifted.
Large breasts can literally be a pain in the neck for many women.
The weight of the breasts can cause significant physical and social problems for many women. They often cause neck and upper back pain and discomfort from bra straps digging into the shoulders as they support the weight of the breasts. Very large breasts can make exercising difficult, if not painful, and even create heat rashes or infections under the breasts. Socially, large breasts can be embarrassing for many women, attracting unwanted attention. They even make it difficult to fit clothing as a woman’s size could vary for example from a size 18 top around the bust line, while the rest of her body is a size 8.
Breast Reduction surgery involves reducing the volume of breast tissue while repositioning the nipples in the center of the breast mound. As with Mastopexy, the incision circumnavigates the areola (pigmented skin surrounding the nipple) before passing vertically down to the crease beneath the breast. Depending on breast size the incision may also extend horizontally within the breast crease. Unlike Mastopexy, a large amount of breast tissue is removed. All excised breast tissue is sent to pathology for analysis. Pre-existing asymmetries can also be corrected at the same time.
Most patients experience a new lease of life after Breast Reduction. They feel so much lighter and look slimmer, while the associated pain of the breast weight is eliminated. Potential risks specific to the surgery include reduced or lost nipple sensitivity and loss of skin or the nipple. Roughly 1/3 will be able to breast feed unimpeded after Breast Reduction, 1/3 of women will need to supplement breast milk with formula, while 1/3 of women may not be able to breastfeed.
Breast reduction surgery does not cause breast cancer, however one in 100 patients will have an incidental cancer found in the excised breast tissue. For this reason all excised breast tissue should be sent for pathological analysis and all patients should have a mammogram and ultrasound prior to surgery to help detect any possible cancers before surgery. As some breast cancers are hard to detect through routine testing, the pathology will detect those that may have been missed in the prior testing.
Occasionally male patients require Breast Reduction surgery, either by way of liposuction or a more extensive surgical procedure. The same cosmetic principles apply to both males and females and the end results should look and feel natural and be in proportion to the size of the patient’s body.
After puberty and ideally after you have had your children and completed breast feeding, but it can be done at anytime. Breast reduction may interfere with your ability to breast feed. Also your body weight should be in the ideal range for your height and it should be stable. If you put weight on after your breast reduction, your breasts may increase in size again.
If your back and shoulder pain are due to having large breasts, then breast reduction surgery will alleviate your pain. Of course back and shoulder pain can be caused by many other problems.
Before surgery you should have achieved and maintained your ideal body weight as weight fluctuation will affect the final result. If you are a smoker then it is critically important that you have stopped smoking well before the surgery. I ask my patients to stop for 6 months prior to their operation date. Smoking can have devastating consequences on healing after breast reduction surgery leading to dead nipples, dead skin and open, infected wounds.
It is always difficult to accurately predict your final, post-operative cup size but, based on your expectations, I strive to achieve a good match for your body shape.
The amount of scarring with breast reduction surgery is related to the initial size of your breasts and the size you hope to be. Bigger reductions involve more scarring. Scars may be confined to the areola (peri-areolar breast reduction) for smaller breasts. Scars may pass around the areola and down the lower curve of the breast in a “lollipop” shape (vertical scar breast reduction). Finally scar may include the “lollipop” and also run along the fold under the breast (inverted-T breast reduction). The good news is that all scars fade with time, so over a period of 12 months they become increasingly difficult to see.
No, not everyone will require surgical drains. I tend to use them for large reductions and decide on a case by case basis.
Nipples sensitivity may be lost after breast reduction surgery but invariably returns to normal over several months.
I have my patient swear a supportive non-underwire bra after their breast reduction for a period of 6 weeks. Some patients choose to continue wearing the same sort of bra for a further 6 weeks.
For a fully insured patient with a nil excess policy the cost of the surgery is $11,000.