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Your breast reduction surgery questions answered

Some women have great difficulty with their large breasts, especially if they are out of proportion to their overall figure. This can cause a number of problems including pain and discomfort. Mr Andrew Morritt, Consultant Plastic Surgeon answers the frequently asked questions.

What symptoms indicate a breast reduction may be necessary?

Breast reduction is a commonly performed procedure that involves surgically reducing the volume of the breasts and lifting the breasts and nipples to a more youthful position. Patients with large breasts may commonly experience a number of problems such as:
Physical Symptoms
  • Pain in the back, neck, shoulder or breasts
  • Breast drooping
  • Bra straps digging in and leaving grooves on the shoulders
  • Sweating in the crease under the breast causing skin irritation
  • Difficulty getting clothes to fit as the breasts are out of proportion with the figure
  • Difficulty undertaking exercise or participating in sports
  • Poor posture
Emotional Problems
  • Self consciousness about having large breasts
  • Experienced people ‘talking to’ their breasts and not to their faces
  • Related to unwanted attention or unpleasant comments due to the size of the patient’s breasts
  • Low self esteem

What is involved in the operation?

Breast reduction is performed with the patient asleep (under general anaesthesia) and takes approximately 3 hours. A detailed plan for the procedure is made before the surgery with markings on the patient’s skin and cuts are made in the skin and tissue of the breast.
Most commonly, the excess skin and breast tissue are removed from the lower and outer parts of the breast and the areolar (pigmented skin around the nipple) is usually reduced in size. The breast tissue is then reshaped with internal stitches and the nipple lifted to its new position. The skin is then closed with sutures that are generally all buried not visible. These sutures do not need to be removed as they dissolve by themselves over time. Drains are sometimes placed during surgery to remove fluid and usually removed the day after surgery.
Typically the scars are around the areola, in the crease under the breast and a vertical scar running from the areola to the scar under the breast.

How long will I need to be off of work for?

Depending on the size of the reduction and the patient’s general health, people will recover from surgery at different speeds. Some patients in less physical occupations may feel able to return to work after 1 week off. We generally recommend that patients plan to have 2 weeks off after breast reduction surgery as the vast majority of patients are fully healed within this time frame. Patients are advised to avoid lifting anything heavy and refrain from undertaking vigorous exercise until approximately 6 weeks after surgery.

Is it a painful procedure?

Different patients have differing pain thresholds but generally speaking, patients have less pain following breast reduction surgery than one would expect considering the extent of the surgery. Most patients are able to go home the day after surgery on regular ‘medium strength’ painkillers. In general, it is unusual for patients to require painkillers after 1 week following the surgery as the body produces it’s own natural painkillers.

What benefits can be expected from undergoing a breast reduction?

Breast reduction can transform a patient’s life and many people wish they had undergone the surgery earlier in their lives.  Patients generally experience improvement in pain symptoms and in some cases, patients will no longer have pain in the back, neck or shoulders.
Having breasts which are more in proportion with the rest of the body opens up a whole new realm of clothing possibilities and patients generally feel it is easier to get the clothes to fit the whole body  Similarly, having smaller breasts means that many ladies can wear underwear that has previously been off limits.
Many patients also feel that their energy levels go up and some are able to increase their exercise levels or sporting pursuits. Ultimately, most ladies feel that the surgery improves their self confidence.

A GP referral is preferable, although you can self-refer or see one of our Private GPs for a referral. To book an appointment, call our friendly Private Patient Team on 0114 263 2114.

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