Breast reduction surgery also goes by the name of reduction mammoplasty. The purpose of the surgery is to resize and reshape the breasts to make them smaller and more manageable while retaining a natural and uplifted shape.
The reasons for choosing breast reduction surgery are usually due to discomfort and pain from the size and weight of the breast tissue. Perhaps your breast size is making you feel self-conscious or dictating the types of clothing you can wear. Or you may find that your posture is compromised, with recurring back problems or shoulder pain.
At your initial consultation, your surgeon will work with you to determine the best size and shape of breasts for your frame. You will have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the surgery, as it’s important that you feel completely comfortable with the procedure.
Just before your surgery, you will be given a general anaesthetic before being taken into the operating theatre. The surgeon will have discussed with you beforehand about where the incisions are to be made. The aim is to make them as discreet as possible, so the most common method is to keep incisions as much out of sight as possible, usually around the areola and under the crease below the breasts, although some vertical scarring on the lower part of the breast is inevitable.
The nipple is carefully repositioned, along with its nerves and blood supply, with the areola often being reduced at the same time. Your surgeon will then remove excess skin, fat and glandular tissue to reduce the overall size of your breasts. The supporting and underlying tissues of the breast are then carefully repositioned, reduced and shaped to create a natural look.
Where there is a lot of excess breast tissue to remove, the areola and nipple may need to be completely removed before repositioning, but if this is the case your surgeon will have discussed this with you during the preliminary consultation.
Finally, your surgeon will suture the underlying layers of breast tissue, finishing with sutures on the incision to close the wound, which is then covered with gauze. Sometimes the surgeon may insert a tube temporarily into each breast to drain away excess fluid to minimise post-operative bruising. You are then removed to the recovery area until the anaesthetic has begun to wear off, at which point you will be moved to a ward, usually for a couple of days, before being allowed home.
Straight after your surgery, your breasts will be enclosed in a supportive bandage or surgical bra. Any drainage tubes will be removed within a couple of days, and stitches are usually removed seven to fourteen days after your surgery.
Any initial pain quickly settles down, and most women say that they experience mild discomfort for a week or so after the operation, which can easily be treated with painkillers. Bruising and swelling usually take several weeks to disappear completely, but wearing a surgical bra continuously helps to minimise swelling and provides good support for your breasts as they continue to heal.
Most patients are ready to go back to work within a couple of weeks, but heavy lifting and vigorous activity should be avoided for at least four weeks.