Breast reduction, or reduction mammaplasty, is an operation to remove excess tissue and skin from the breasts. Women can develop large breasts early in adolescence due to inherited genes, or as a result of pregnancy, weight gain or the menopause. Women may wish to reduce the size of their breasts based on psychological reasons such as low-self esteem, as well as physical problems, most commonly neck and back pain.

What does the operation involve?

A breast reduction operation usually takes between 2 to 3 hours under general anaesthetic. Typically, incisions are made on the lower part of the breast and nipple through which excess tissue is then removed. The skin is then reshaped, the nipple is repositioned if necessary and the cuts are stitched up. Once the operation is complete a supportive dressing is wrapped around the breasts.

What to expect post surgery?

Specialist post–op care:
> TED stockings to be worn for 2 weeks.
> No stretching arms for the first 6 weeks.
> Micropore tape to the scars - once well healed – for at least three months.
> Moisturise scar after first 3 months.
> Sports bra (no under-wiring) to be worn during the day and night for the first 3 months.

Please click here for more general post-operation care.

What are the risks?

Common side effects:
> Breasts can be sore for up to several months.
> Scars will at first be red and raised but should fade with time.
> Nipples may be less sensitive, especially if repositioned.
> Depending on the type of surgery some women are unable to breastfeed after the operation.

Uncommon but potential complications:
As with any operation problems may arise with an unexpected reaction to the anaesthetic, excessive bleeding, blood clots or infection. Complications can occur during or after the procedure.

Further risks specifically related to breast reduction include:
> Haematoma: if bleeding occurs inside the breast this will cause swelling and pain and may require further surgery.
> Rarely part or the entire nipple is lost resulting from a change in blood supply.
> Breasts differ in shape, size or nipple position.

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