The problem of large breasts are extensive and debilitating; back ache, neck pain, discomfort from bras, rashes under the breasts, unwanted attention to name a few. A breast reduction, whilst not a procedure to enter into lightly, is a measure which can combat all of these issues, allowing you to evade those feelings of discomfort and self-consciousness and indulge in buying off-the-peg underwear or wearing strappy summer clothing.
What does the procedure involve?
This procedure is performed under a general anaesthetic, and most patients stay overnight. Excess skin and breast tissue are removed, and the remaining breast tissue may be reduced further by liposuction. The nipple is not removed from the breast but is sutured in a higher position. The breast shape is reconstructed and the skin is stitched leaving either a ‘lollipop’ shaped scar or an anchor shaped scar (for the larger breasts). Some discomfort will last for two to three days and a three to four day stay in hospital is necessary. Recovery time can vary between two and six weeks, dependant on age and general fitness and stitches will be removed within 14 days.
A well-fitting bra will need to be worn following surgery, but because of the post-operative swelling the final size of your breasts may not be obvious for several weeks. There is likely to be some tenderness and lumpiness of the breasts for several weeks, or even months, following surgery, but there is no reason why you cannot sunbathe and go swimming once the scars have fully healed.
Is this treatment right for you?
The size of women’s breasts are be determined by several factors, such as genes, body weight and hormonal influences. A breast reduction can be considered for all ages, beginning in early adolescence, right through until middle age where factors such as the menopause or the use of HRT can affect a woman’s breasts.
Your surgeon will discuss thoroughly with you the end result that you desire and which size breasts you wish to have. Many women wish for a very radical reduction but in order to achieve this, the shape and aesthetic quality of the breasts may be compromised, but for most this is a modest exchange for the discomfort of extremely large breasts.
It is here that women with breasts only slightly larger than normal, must give very careful thought to the scarring and the potential shape and size as the outcome of the surgery might not be as aesthetically pleasing as a normal breast appearance.
What are the limitations?
A reduction mammoplasty may leave women with a degree of asymmetry of the breast but it will often be less than existed before surgery. After surgery, your breasts should not redevelop unless the procedure was undertaken in early adolescence. They will, increase in size if you put on weight or become pregnant and decrease in size if you lose weight. Even normal breasts have a tendency to droop with time and you can expect some change in shape to occur after a reduction mammaplasty; you can delay this tendency by supporting your breasts in well-fitting bras.
As with any major operation, general anaesthetic carries risks and patients will be advised to cease smoking and to stop taking the contraceptive pill for a number of weeks prior to the procedure.
What are the consequences?
Scarring occurs with this procedure, but your surgeon will position them so that they lie underneath normal clothing and under the average bra or bikini top. The scars will fade gradually to become much paler and less obvious but they will vary in appearance from one woman to another and in the most severe cases, your surgeon will revise the scars should they have failed to heal sufficiently. In most women, however, the scars are acceptable and a small inconvenience compared to dealing with the problems of large breasts.
Breast reduction has no effect on pregnancy but young women must understand that it is unlikely they will be able to breast feed. At the time of pregnancy the milk supply usually dries up on its own, but sometimes women may require some hormone treatment to help.
The nipples are likely to be less-sensitive following surgery due to the nature of the cuts to the nerve supply, and it is possible that numbness could extend over parts of the breast as well.
There is no evidence that a breast reduction can contribute to breast cancer in any way, and the procedure does not affect the results of a mammogram.
As with all major surgery, complications could arise from infection which in turn could delay the healing process but good general health will ensure that this risk is minimised. Any issues that arise from the surgery, as well as any other concerns you may have will be handled by your surgeon and his experienced team of nurses.