Breast Reduction

Breast reduction surgery is a commonly performed operation designed to make large breasts smaller, lighter, symmetrical and more proportionate.

As a result of surgery there will be scars but these are carefully placed to be relatively inconspicuous once faded. Liposuction can be used on excess fat but it is almost invariably necessary to remove the excess glandular tissue and skin. Excessive breast enlargement (mammary hypertrophy) can cause a number of medical problems:

  • back and neck pain
  • strap marks and shoulder strain
  • poor posture
  • skin irritation and infections (intertrigone)
  • shortness of breath
  • difficulty participating in recreational activities
  • difficulty fitting bras, swimming costumes and clothes
  • embarrassment
  • depression

Recent research suggests reduction surgery both reduces the risk of developing breast cancer and does not delay detection. Your surgeon will continue to recommend regular mammograms in accordance with screening guidelines.

Planning Your Surgery

It is important to have realistic expectations about the results and discuss these frankly with your surgeon. Every patient - and every surgeon - has a different view of what is a desirable size and shape for breasts. The aim of surgery is to make your breasts proportionate but it is difficult to guarantee an exact cup size.

Breast reduction is routinely undertaken as an inpatient procedure under general anaesthetic with only one night stay in hospital usually required. The techniques for breast reduction vary, but the common inferior pedicle procedure results in an anchor-shaped scar that circles the areola, extends downward, and follows the natural curve of the crease beneath the breast. Excess glandular tissue, fat, and skin is removed and the skin from both sides of the breast is draped down and around the areola and nipple in their new position shaping the contour of the breast. The nipples can almost always remain attached to their blood vessels and nerves.

Your surgeon should also clarify the facility where the surgery will be performed, and the costs involved. Because health funds accept that breast reduction is a medically justified procedure they do cover much of the cost of this procedure. The procedure may also be available on Medicare, although the waiting time can be considerable.

Risks, Complications & Considerations

Breast reduction is a relatively straightforward procedure with a low risk profile. However, as with all surgery there are general risks and potential specific complications related to the type of procedure itself. These will be explained in detail during your consultation.

Current smokers should be advised that nicotine can delay healing, resulting in more conspicuous scars and prolonged recovery. Less than 5% of women will develop a significant post-operative complication. Prompt treatment of any complication reduces the chance of long-term problems.

Getting Back to Normal

Most women can return to work (if it's not too strenuous) and social activities in one to two weeks. Aerobic and vigorous physical exercise should be avoided for 4 weeks. You will need a good sports bra or lycra crop top for support and avoid swimming or immersing your breasts under water for 4 weeks.

Although much of the swelling and bruising will disappear in the first few weeks, it may be three to six months before your breasts settle into their new shape. Even then, their shape may fluctuate in response to your hormonal shifts, weight changes, and pregnancy.

Your Next Step

Please contact the breast care nurse for a no obligation, cost free consultation to discuss the procedure in more detail & to view representative photographs.