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For women who want their breasts to be smaller for whatever reason, breast reduction surgery is available as an option. If you’re interested in or considering this operation, here’s what you need to know.
What is breast reduction surgery?
Breast reduction surgery is an operation to make the breasts smaller by removing some of the fatty tissue. It is a separate procedure to the operation for gynaecomastia, or breast reduction for men, which you can read about here.
Is this operation right for me?
Breast reduction is a form of cosmetic surgery which can help women who want their breasts to be smaller. There are lots of reasons why people consider having this surgery. Some women have breasts that are too big for their body, and it can cause backache or pain while exercising.
Some women don’t like the way their breasts look, or have a hard time finding clothes that fit properly.
What does the operation involve?
Breast reduction surgery is a relatively major operation which is carried out under general anaesthetic. It takes between 90 minutes and 4 hours, depending on how much the breasts are being reduced by1. The surgeon makes a small cut underneath each breast to remove some excess fat, glandular tissue and skin. To ensure a natural-looking result, the surgeon may do some re-shaping of the remaining breast tissue, and alter the nipple position slightly1.
What happens afterwards?
Most women who undergo breast reduction surgery need to stay in hospital for a couple of nights to recover. Dressings protect the breasts while the incisions heal, and tubes are often put in place to drain any blood from the area. They are likely to be swollen and tender at first, but pain killers are usually effective at relieving any discomfort.
How long does it take to recover?
It usually takes between two and six weeks to recover fully from breast reduction surgery. For the first week, it’s best to take leave from work and avoid driving. Some surgeons recommend wearing a sports bra to support your breasts while you recover1.
Stretching, strenuous activity and heavy lifting should be avoided for up to six weeks1. The important thing is to take your time with recovery and not rush back into anything which feels uncomfortable.
The dressings and stitches need to stay on until the wounds heal, which varies from person to person, and the surgeon can advise on when they can be removed. It’s normal to have sore breasts for several weeks after the operation, and for the final appearance of the breasts not to be obvious for several weeks or months while they recover1.
Will I have a scar?
Most women are left with small scars around their nipples. Depending on the techniques the surgeon used, there may also be scars running vertically from the nipples down to the breast crease, and horizontally underneath the breasts. The scars should fade over time1.
Are there any risks?
Like any operation, breast reduction surgery carries some risks. It can occasionally lead to problems, including:
- Thick or obvious scars
- Unevenly shaped breasts or nipples
- Problems with the wound healing
- Loss of nipple sensation or sensitivity
- Inability to breastfeed
- Red or lumpy breasts
- Excess skin around the scars, which may need to be surgically removed
- Bleeding inside the breast tissue (haematoma) – this generally occurs within the first 24 hours after the operation1
All women who undergo breast reduction surgery have a consultation with their surgeon beforehand. This is the ideal time to air and discuss any questions or concerns about the risks involved in the operation.
Where can I have the operation?
It is available on the NHS to women who are experiencing physical symptoms or significant emotional distress. BMI Healthcare offer breast reduction surgery at hospitals across the country with inclusive packages that cover consultations and your stay in hospital.
Find out more
If you’re considering a breast reduction surgery you can find out more here. You can get in touch any time by enquiring online or phoning us to speak to an adviser.
To find out more call us on 0808 101 0337
or make an online enquiry.