Breast reduction can help relieve the physical symptoms associated with large or heavy breasts such as:
- Breast discomfort
- Neck ache
- Shoulder pain
- Skin irritations underneath the breast fold
- Problems with clothes
- Indented bra-straps
- Difficulties and discomfort during exercise
On a purely cosmetic level, the operation can help patients who are unhappy with the shape, weight and droop of their breasts, by creating smaller and more uplifted breasts. Many patients with large breasts can be very self-conscious of their appearance and find that they attract unwanted attention.
Most breast reduction surgery begins with the nipple, which is lifted into a new position and kept alive on a pedicle, or stalk, of tissue. Excess skin and breast tissue is then removed, and the remaining breast tissue reshaped to create a smaller and more elevated breast.
The methods of Breast Reduction
The methods of reduction and reshaping vary, and depend upon the patient’s breast size, wishes and needs. While the principle of all breast reductions remains the same, different techniques do result in different types of scarring in the breast area.
Anchor-type or Inverted T reduction
The most common and traditional type of breast reduction uses an anchor-type incision, also known as an inverted T. This technique results in an anchor-shaped scar, starting around the nipple, travelling vertically down and then horizontally across the breast crease.
Vertical scar reduction
Another common type of reduction procedure is the vertical pattern breast reduction. With this technique, patients end up with a scar around the nipple that travels vertically down, but with no scarring underneath the breast. The reduced scarring is a distinct advantage. However, the vertical pattern is less effective and reliable when dealing with particularly large breasts. Furthermore, because there is no horizontal excision of skin, the vertical incision is ridged up. This can cause the skin around the scar to look gathered in the early days after the operation, and a vertical pattern breast reduction will in general take longer to settle than an inverted T procedure.
In Circumareolar breast reduction the only scar is a circular scar around the areola. It is possible to carry out a relatively modest breast reduction by using a scar only around the nipple. This technique is suitable when only a small amount of tissue needs to be removed. It can also be good when only one breast needs to be reduced to match the other breast
What should I expect in terms of treatment, procedures and outcomes?
Breast reduction surgery involves fairly complex operations that take between one-and-a-half to three hours to perform. The operation is carried out under general anaesthetic. Patients are usually required to stay in hospital for one or two nights. You will have some dressings on your breasts and often some drains (plastic tubes attached to suction bottles). We mainly prefer to use non-dissolvable stitches which do not need to be removed after the operation. Post-operative pain in these procedures is easily controlled. Patients will be mobile from day one and should be back to full exercise within six weeks. Patients are recommended to take at least two to four weeks off work immediately after the operation in order to ensure they recuperate fully.
All breast reductions result in some scarring although the nature of the scars will depend on the technique that has been used. Scars tend to be quite red in the first six weeks, changing to purple over next three months and then fading to white. Most patients will form good quality scars over time, but occasionally and unpredictably some patients will get red lumpy scars that do not improve.
The aim of this article is to give you a general information about the surgical intervention in question. You need to make more research about possible complications and risks of this selected procedure in order to make an informed decision. Please note that complications occur more frequently with patients who are obese, smoke, and have a history or lung or other chronic underlying medical conditions.
Smokers are recognized to have a significantly higher risk of post operative wound healing problems with a subsequently higher potential of infection as well as operative and post operative bleeding. Patients should discontinue smoking for two weeks before and two weeks after surgery. Although it helps to stop smoking before and after surgery, this does not completely eliminate the increased risks resulting from long term smoking. Smoking also has a long term adverse effect on the skin and ageing process.