What is a breast reduction procedure and why is it
A breast reduction procedure can help women of all ages to
overcome the discomfort caused by large and heavy pendulous
breasts. The procedure involves the surgical removal of breast fat,
glandular tissue and skin, under general anaesthetic and usually
involves a one to two night stay in hospital to recover. The
objectives of breast reduction surgery is to produce a smaller,
lighter, improved breast shape, complimentery and proportionate to
the rest of an individual’s figure. This can also reduce the
problem of back pain that heavy breasts may cause.
What kind of women request this procedure?
- Women who suffer with uneven (asymmetrical) breasts
- Women who have suffered with back, neck or shoulder pain as a
result of their heavy breasts
- Women who do not like their large breasts as they can interfere
with their normal daily activities and ability to exercise in
- Women who suffer from skin irritation due to their heavy
breasts, particularly in hot weather
- Women who feel limited by the fashion restrictions large
- Women who feel that their self esteem, confidence or
relationships are affected by concerns and feelings about their
What are the results like?
This particular procedure can provide a better quality of life,
freeing women from the considerable physical and practical
difficulties caused by overly large breasts.
Women who have had breast reduction surgery frequently report
that their self confidence and feeling of well being is boosted
This advanced corrective procedure needs to be performed by a
Consultant Plastic Surgeon who is fully qualified and well
experienced to skillfully perform this type of surgery. However, it
is important to note that no matter how high the surgical
standards, this procedure cannot be performed without the
introduction of visible surgical scars on the operated area.
How is a breast reduction procedure performed?
A breast reduction procedure involves the surgical reduction of
breast tissue and the restoration of contour through a series of
carefully planned and measured excisions.
This restoration normally involves the removal of reasonably
large volumes of breast tissue and the relocation of the nipple and
the surrounding skin back into the centre of the newly created
breast shape. Patients are fully anaesthetised throughout this
procedure, which can take an average of two to three hours to
Techniques for breast reduction vary slightly between surgeons
and according to the individual needs of each case. The incision
methods are shaped in an ‘anchor-like’ or ‘midline’ appearance,
leaving a scar which extends around the darker tissue surrounding
the nipple (areola) and extending down the midline of the lower
segment of the breast and then following the natural crease
line beneath the breast. Another technique involves an
S-shaped incision, leaving a scar which extends around the areola
and across the lower outside aspect of the breast, which finishes
in the natural crease line beneath the breast (single scar).
The breast reduction operation is a relatively major procedure
so the operated area is usually quite numb following surgery.
Patients often express that they experience a surprising lack of
post-operative pain, however, analgesic tablets (pain killers) are
provided for any discomfort experienced.
The return of nipple sensitivity following surgery is entirely
variable from patient to patient. Nipple sensation may be reduced
whilst surgical wounds heal, although occasionally patients will
permanently lose some or all of the feeling in one or both
Breast feeding capability after reduction surgery may be
In the early days following discharge, patients are strongly
advised to stay at home and to avoid any level of activity that
would put undue strain on the new wounds. Patients are also advised
to wear a soft, supportive bra, which does not have an underwire
and to keep their post-operative dressings clean and dry until they
return to hospital. Suture glue is applied to all wounds.
Patients will be advised to take a specific amount of recovery
time away from work, dependent on the type of work they perform,
but it is usual to take around two to three weeks off from work and
to refrain from any strenuous upper body exercise for at least six
weeks following surgery.
Are there any risks involved in breast reduction surgery?
All surgery involves an element of risk from developing
complications. However, cosmetic surgery is usually undertaken
voluntarily and only when the presenting patient is in good health.
Therefore the probability of experiencing complications following
this type of surgery are substantially lower than those undergoing
surgery for ill health.
Smoking may adversely affect wound healing and heavy smokers may
be precluded from having this type of surgery as a result.
Risks such as wound healing, nipple necrosis (lack of blood
supply to the nipple), infection, asymmetry, alteration in
sensitivity and scarring will all be discussed openly at
consultation, as well as our scrupulous efforts to manage and
minimise these risks to their lowest possible potential.
The appearance of surgical scars, which generally fade
progressively after surgery, are a highly individual matter.
Usually, scars mature, soften and fade to a cosmetically
acceptable level at around 12 months following surgery.
Occasionally, patients can develop red, unsightly, firm scars,
known as hypertrophic scarring or keloids, which may require
further corrective treatment.
The process of healing and risk of scarring will be explained to
you by your surgeon at consultation as results from scarring can
never be guaranteed.
The importance of a thorough pre-operative consultation with the
Consultant Plastic or Specialist Surgeon who will actually perform
your operation cannot be over stressed. You need time to consider
all the benefits and risks of breast reduction surgery and the
opportunity to reflect and consider all the information the surgeon
offers you at consultation before you make a decision regarding
With Vive, each consultation is tailored to an individual’s
needs. However, the process will always involve a thorough
evaluation of your present and past medical history and a physical
examination of the problem area. Your surgeon will take time to
listen to your concerns regarding your present breast size, and
will take care to ensure that you have a thorough understanding of
what can be done to help, the procedure itself, the recovery stages
and a clear explanation of the risks involved.
You are positively encouraged to ask any questions that you may
have and to look at photographs of others who have had the same
type of surgery that you are considering. If you would find it
helpful, our advisory team may be able to arrange for you to speak
with a previous patient who is willing to discuss their experience
with you over the telephone.