Breast reduction, also known as reduction mammaplasty, is a procedure to remove excess breast fat, glandular tissue, and skin to achieve a breast size in proportion with your body and to alleviate the discomfort associated with overly large breasts.
If you have overly large breasts, breast reduction surgery can be a tremendously life-enhancing option. The procedure will give you far more than just smaller, firmer breasts. You will also get immense relief from many physical and emotional discomforts, a new sense of freedom in your exercise and physical activity and the ability to wear a greater variety of clothing styles.
You may be a good candidate for breast reduction if you have:
- Back, neck and shoulder pain due to the weight of your breasts
- Heavy sagging breasts with very low nipples
- Breasts that are too large to your body frame
- Skin irritation beneath your breasts
- Indentations in your shoulders due to tight bra straps
- Restriction of physical activity due to size and weight of your breasts
- Self-conscious about the large size of your breasts
- One breast is much larger than the other
How is breast reduction performed?
The procedure is performed in an operation theatre under general anaesthesia. Your surgeon will mark the areas and plan the surgery for you pre-operatively in the upright position.
A keyhole or racquet-shaped pattern is routinely used. In this method, the incisions are around the areola and vertically down to the breast crease. After the incision is made, the nipple (which remains tethered to its original blood and nerve supply) is then repositioned. The areola is reduced by excising skin at the perimeter, if necessary.
Underlying breast tissue is reduced, lifted and shaped. Occasionally, for extremely large pendulous breasts, the nipple and areola may need to be removed and transplanted to a higher position on the breast (free nipple graft).
Deep sutures are taken to create and support the newly shaped breasts. The skin is closed using self-dissolving sutures and a supportive dressing is applied.
You are likely to feel sore for a day or two but you can be up and about after 24 hours. The discomfort is controlled by oral medications. You will be advised to use a sports bra regularly for at least 4 weeks. You must avoid sudden excessive movements at your shoulder. Stitches and all dressings will be removed by 10th day. The scars will be firm and pink for at least 6 weeks after which they generally begin to soften and settle down.
Breast reduction is a surgical procedure and has some potential problems associated with it. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications.
Possible risks include:
- Anesthesia risks
- Bleeding or hematoma formation
- Poor healing of incisions
- Unfavorable scarring
- Changes in nipple or breast sensation, which may be temporary or permanent
- Breast contour and shape irregularities
- Breast asymmetry
- Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
- Fluid accumulation
- Potential problems to breast feed
- Potential partial or total loss of nipple and areola
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Possibility of revision surgery
Breast reduction surgery may interfere with future breast imaging.