What You Can Expect From Breast Reduction Surgery
Reviewed by Brian Graves, MD
Breast Reduction surgery will take place with you under either general or local anaesthetic but either way you will not feel any pain and will be comfortable and relaxed. During the operation your surgeon will remove both some breast tissue and skin before repositioning the nipple for cosmetic purposes. In a procedure that lasts from 2-5 hours, the surgeon will first make 3 cuts; one around the areola, one form the areola down under your breast, and the final one across the crease under your breast. Additional fat, skin and breast tissue are removed and the nipple and areola is repositioned and made smaller if necessary. If it is required liposuction will be combined to improve the shape of the breast and finally the surgeon will stitch the cuts closed. There are number of reasons that may lead to people opting to or being advised by their doctor to under go breast reduction surgery. Chronic pain and nerve problems for example can seriously affect your quality of life. People with very large breasts can suffer from headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain and poor posture which can lead to a tingling sensation or numbing in your hands. It is also common for women to develop a painful rash under their breasts. Cosmetic problems are another reason such as scar-like lines in the skin of the breast, bra-straps causing a groove in the skin or simply finding it hard to find clothes that fit. Unwelcome attention can lead to low self-confidence and self-esteem making women feel awkward when around other people. Sports women also may opt for breast reduction surgery although there are non-surgical options available that may be better including losing excess weight, strengthening their back and shoulder muscles to cope with the weight and wearing supportive sports bra’s.Although breast reduction surgery is generally considered safe, there are some risks and complications that could occur, which you should discuss with your doctor before under going any treatment. Bleeding and infection are possible complications, which could occur during surgery and breathing problems, heart problems and bad reactions are possible risks from the anaesthesia. There are also side effects, which could occur after the procedure that you should make yourself aware of. Loss of feeling in the nipple area, scaring, uneven breast size and difficulty breathing are all such examples.
Smokers must quit before, during and after breast reduction surgery or risk permanent scaring and infection. Inform your doctor in advance if you are taking any kind of medication or drugs and if there is any possibility you could be pregnant. The days before your surgery may include the following;
- A mammogram or breast x-ray and a breast exam undertaken by your plastic surgeon.
- Advise to stop taking any drug that prevents blood clotting such as ibuprofen and aspirin.
- Fill in your details for prescription pain medication
- Make arrangement for someone to drive you home after surgery.
- Asked not to drink or eat after midnight the day before you are scheduled for surgery
- Be prepared to wear or bring lose clothing for after surgery
Scars due to breast reduction surgery are permanent but will fade after the first year and will be located in as discreet a place as possible by your doctor. Pain and skin conditions that you had previously will disappear and ultimately once you have recovered you will feel better and more comfortable with your appearance.
- After surgery your breasts and chest will be wrapped with gauze dressing with drainage tubes attached.
- The dressing should be removed according to your doctors advise.
- Tubes will usually be removed within 3-5 days.
- During the first week, dressing will be replaced with a soft bra, which should be worn for several weeks.
- Pain should decrease after a few days and should be controlled with painkillers.
- Swelling and bruising should disappear after a few days and stitches will be removed within 2 weeks of surgery.
- Temporary loss of sensation in your nipples after surgery is common but should return over time.