Breast Reduction


Throughout history, large breasts have generally been considered a sign of femininity highlighting a woman’s ability to nurture.  Yet a woman with significantly larger breasts than the aesthetic standard of her time may be seen as abnormal or deformed.  In these cases there is no doubt, that large oversized breasts can be disturbing to a woman by causing both physical as well as psychological symptoms.  In the former these can take the form of shoulder, neck and back pain as well as cause distortion of posture.


While women of all ages can benefit, it’s usually never performed before the breasts are fully developed.  In addition, patients who plan to become pregnant should usually postpone the operation until after their family is complete.  If you are a smoker you will be asked to stop smoking well in advance of surgery.  Smoking seriously constricts blood vessels and therefore decreases blood flow to a given area resulting in poor healing.  If you are significantly overweight then planned preoperative weight reduction is encouraged but this alone does not necessarily rule you out for an operation.  In fact many times the achievement of reduced breast size can become a stimulus for further planned weight loss.  Depending on your age you may be required to have a mammogram prior to surgery. This again will be advised at the initial consultation.


Before going down to theatre, Dr. Skarparis uses a marking pen to draw on the breasts in order to determine the exact position and size of the newly operated breasts.  Excess breast tissue, fat and skin are then removed, and the nipples and remaining underlying tissues are then moved to a new higher location, all in accordance with the preoperative markings.  The suture line is situated around the nipple in its new position, and extends vertically downwards to the under-breast crease.  At this point, depending on the technique used, the scar may end there or alternatively may extend into the breast crease towards either side.  Dr. Skarparis will be able to discuss this with you at the time of your consultation.


Breast Reduction is performed under general anesthesia and usually takes about 3 hours.


After surgery it is important that you maintain good circulation in your legs.  You will be advised to actively move the joints in your feet, knees and hips quite regularly.  After you recover you will notice bandage dressings around your breasts and, depending on the technique used, the presence of drains.  These are usually inserted under the wounds to drain any build up of blood or fluid that occasionally develops after surgery.  Once the drainage is minimal (usually the next day) these drains are then removed.  Your bandages are then readjusted and you are then instructed to wear a wireless sports bra for support.


Following Breast Reduction you will experience considerable swelling and bruising of the breasts.  The bruising usually lasts about 2-3 weeks.  While most of the swelling will have dissipated by this time, some subtle swelling may still be present for up to 3 months.  After surgery you may notice that the breasts feel quite firm and taut, particularly along the edges of the incision site.  This will be the result of the normal healing process.  When this occurs, massage as instructed by Dr. Skarparis will speed up the recovery.  You should expect the sensation to the skin of the nipples and surrounding skin to be reduced after surgery.


Scars are not a complication but a normal event after any surgery.  In Breast Reduction the scars are quite lengthy and may take many months or years to settle.  You should always expect these to be red, raised, lumpy and even itchy to begin with but with time they should fade and flatten.  This is the natural evolution of the healing process.  However it is important to keep in mind that this may take up to two years to complete.  Daily massage of the scars during this time period is advised to expedite and facilitate this process.  You must understand however that no responsible surgeon will ever be in a position to predict any scars ultimate appearance.  Although as mentioned, scars do fade and improve in time, it is unlikely however that these could ever be characterized as being mainly only “hairline” in nature.


For a few days after your surgery, you will probably experience some moderate degree of pain, which should be well controlled with painkillers.  The pain usually improves after the first 4-5 days.


Whilst it is true that when a Breast Reduction is performed by a Qualified Plastic Surgeon the risks are small, nonetheless, specific complications with this procedure can and do occur.  As in any procedure the risk of significant infection is always possible.  This is minimized by careful surgical technique and the preventative administration of antibiotics both at the time of surgery and after.  However despite these measures mild infection is relatively common and can occur around the incision sites, but usually subsides over a period of about 2 weeks.  Risks such as blood clots are rare.  Early mobilisation by moving around as soon after the surgery as possible, reduces this considerably.  As mentioned earlier, swelling should be expected after this operation.  When mild or moderate swelling is present, the body rapidly reabsorbs this.  Very occasionally, increased bleeding can lead to more significant swelling and the development of a haematoma (a collection of blood under the skin).  If this were to happen, surgical drainage to evacuate this would be required.  Ultimately however this should not affect the final outcome.

The nipples are preserved on a stalk of breast tissue and in the vast majority of patients they remain natural, with normal sensitivity.  Very rarely, however the stalk of the breast tissue has inadequate blood vessels to maintain nipple viability and some sloughing of part of the nipple can occur.  This complication will mean that prolonged dressing will be required over the nipple area until natural healing occurs.  Thankfully with modern techniques this complication is quite remote.


A Breast Reduction is a relatively major operation and should always be respected as such.  Don’t try do too much too quickly.  It is likely that a few weeks will pass before you feel yourself again.  Remember variations do occur in the time individuals take to heal. As a guideline, although many people go back to light work duties by 10-14 days, others find it more appropriate to take a further 1-2 weeks to rest.  Heavy lifting or strenuous activity is prohibited in the first 6 weeks after surgery.  Overall common sense rules in the recovery period.  If what your doing is uncomfortable then don’t do it.


Breast Reduction surgery probably has one of the highest satisfaction rates of all cosmetic procedures.  This is because women who had been burdened with the effects of overly large breasts for many years suddenly feel literally “liberated” and able to do things that were difficult or uncomfortable prior to surgery.  In many ways these women feel they have been given a new lease of life.

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