Breast Reduction

What is breast reduction?

Breast reduction is a cosmetic procedure to remove excess fat and skin from the breasts making them smaller, better shaped and more uplifted.

Can I get this done under the NHS?

For the surgery to be considered under the NHS all of the following criteria must be met:

  1. Evidence of physical symptoms of back pain, neck pain or shoulder pain due to large breasts.
  2. A minimum of 5kgs of tissue (500grams) to be removed from each breast
  3. Body mass index (BMI) of 26 or below
  4. Non smoker
  5. Mammogram within the last three months to be done

What does surgery involve?

The surgery is generally done under a general anaesthetic. Before surgery we would see you and take the various measurements of the breasts. The skin will be marked to show where the tissue and skin will be removed and the nipple will be marked at the new position. Techniques of the surgery vary between the type and the shape of the breast. The cut is usually around the areola; sometimes there is a vertical cut under the areola. If you are large breasted and there is excessive skin then we may have to give a horizontal cut under the breast. In very few cases we have to remove the nipple and areola completely and graft it in a higher position.

What complications can happen?

  • Bruising – this is very common and can take 2-3 weeks to settle
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Reduced ability to breastfeed. You may not be able to breastfeed at all.
  • Wound breakdown - Most commonly this happens where two cuts meet i.e. at the T junction in lower breast. It requires simple wound dressings.
  • Loss of skin or nipple – this is rare. The risk factors are smoking, diabetes, previous radiotherapy and very large droopy breasts.
  • Fat necrosis- it means hard lump formation due to reduced blood supply to the native breasts.
  • Altered nipple sensation of the nipple – this tends to improve within a few months. Complete loss of sensation is rare.
  • Asymmetry – there may be mild differences between the two breasts. It is not always possible to get perfect symmetry.
  • Hypertrophy or thickening of scars.

How long before daily activities can be resumed?

  • Normal activity can be resumed in 48 hours
  • Shower normally after 10 days
  • Avoid heavy arm exercises for 4-6 weeks
  • Avoid lifting heavy weights for 4-6 weeks
  • Do not go on long haul flights for 6 weeks to avoid the risk of deep vein thrombosis
  • Wear a sports bra day and night for at least 6 weeks

Clinic appointments (all covered within the fee)

  • One week
  • Two weeks
  • Three months

Success rates

Breast reduction has a high success rate with few serious complications.

What you can do to help make the operation a success?

  • If you smoke, stopping smoking several weeks or more before. It reduces your risk of developing complications.
  • Try to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Regular exercise should help to prepare you for the operation