A big chest can make you feel self-conscious and lead to a variety of medical problems. Many women who opt for a breast reduction are fed up with unwanted attention or are experiencing problems such as back and neck pain as well as skin irritation, skeletal deformities and breathing problems. If your breasts are so large that they stop you doing what you want to do, or wearing the clothes that make you feel good, then it may be time to consider breast reduction surgery.
Of all plastic surgery procedures, breast reduction results in the quickest body-image changes. You’ll be rid of the physical discomfort of large breasts, your body will look better proportioned, and clothes will fit better. However, breast reduction surgery should not be taken lightly – we are here to help you decide if it’s the right step for you to take.
Breast reduction surgery will usually only be carried out on a woman whose breasts are fully developed although it may be appropriate to act sooner if breast size is causing serious physical discomfort.
During your initial consultation, we will seek to understand how much of a reduction you would like to achieve, and we can give you a good assessment of what’s possible.
If you go ahead with surgery, you’ll need a general anaesthetic and will have stay in hospital for at least one night.
Breast reduction surgery involves the removal of fat, glandular tissue, and skin from the breasts, making them smaller, lighter and firmer. We can also reduce the size of the areola, the darker skin surrounding the nipple. The goal is to give you smaller, better-shaped breasts in proportion with the rest of your body.
Techniques for breast reduction vary, but the most common procedure involves an anchor-shaped incision that circles the areola, extends downward, and follows the natural curve of the crease beneath the breast. Excess glandular tissue, fat, and skin are removed, and the nipple and areola are moved into their new position. The skin is then brought from both sides of the breast down and around the areola, shaping the new contour of the breast. Liposuction may be used to remove excess fat from the armpit area.
Incisions outline the area of skin, breast tissue, and fat to be removed, and the new position for the nipple. Skin formerly located above the nipple is brought down and together to reshape the breast. Sutures close the incisions, giving the breast its new contour.
Stitches are usually located around the areola, in a vertical line extending downward, and along the lower crease of the breast. In some cases, techniques can be used that eliminate the horizontal part of the scar, and occasionally, when only fat needs to be removed, liposuction alone can be used to reduce breast size, leaving minimal scars.
Scars around the areola, below it, and in the crease under the breast are permanent, but can be easily concealed by clothing.
These can include bleeding, infection, or reaction to the anaesthesia. You can reduce your risks by closely following our advice both before and after surgery.
Breast reduction does usually result in permanent scarring though very effort will be made to make your scars as inconspicuous as possible. Scars often remain lumpy and red for months, then gradually become less obvious, and if you are lucky may fade to thin white lines. Fortunately, the scars can usually be placed so that you can wear even low-cut tops. Poor healing and wider scars are more common in smokers.
Breast reduction surgery can also leave you with slightly mismatched breasts or unevenly positioned nipples.
Some patients may experience a permanent loss of feeling in their nipples or breasts. Rarely, the nipple and areola may lose their blood supply and the tissue will die. (The nipple and areola can be rebuilt by modern techniques. Occasionally, underlying breast tissue may also require reconstruction.)
Because breast reduction involves the severing and re-positioning of the nipple it is not recommended for women who intend to breast-feed.
During our initial consultation we will discuss the extent of the required procedure as well as the variables that may affect the procedure, including your age, the size and shape of your breasts, and the condition of your skin.
We will also discuss where the nipple and areola will be positioned; they’ll be moved higher during the procedure, and should be approximately even with the crease beneath your breasts.
You’ll need to plan ahead so that life is easier when you return home from hospital. You’ll also get specific instructions on how to prepare, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking and medication and you may be sent for a mammogram (breast x-ray).
During the operation you’ll be under a general anaesthetic. The surgery itself usually takes two to four hours, but may take longer in some cases. You can expect to remain in the hospital two to three days.
It’s a good idea to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery and to help you out for a few days if needed. Plus, you will need to make suitable arrangements for when you return home as you should avoid lifting or pushing anything heavy for three or four weeks.
If you work you should also consider taking some time off as you’ll need to avoid strenuous activities for a couple of weeks after surgery. Bear in mind you’ll have much less stamina for several weeks, and should limit your exercises to stretching, bending, and swimming until your energy level returns.
Immediately after surgery, your breasts will be supported with adhesive tape. A small tube will be placed in each breast to drain off blood and fluids for the first day or two.
You may feel some pain for the first couple of days, especially when you move around or cough; and some discomfort for a week or more though you’ll be prescribed pain relief.
You will be able to bathe after a few days and the tapes will be removed after one week and replaced with a soft bra. It is best to wear the bra 24/7 for several weeks, until the swelling and bruising subside. Absorbable sutures are used and few, if any, will need removal.
You may be instructed to avoid sex for a week or more and to avoid anything but gentle contact with your breasts for about six weeks. Although much of the swelling and bruising will disappear in the first few weeks, it may be six months to a year before your breasts settle into their new shape. Even then, their shape may fluctuate in response to your hormonal shifts, weight changes, and pregnancy.
Your first period following surgery may cause your breasts to swell and hurt. You may also experience random, shooting pains for a few months.
Your initial consultation is free of charge. It is difficult to give a wholly accurate idea of the cost of your surgery until we have met and fully assessed your needs and goals. At the end you will be given an exact quote which will cover all treatment, appointments and re-admissions or revisions, should that be necessary. The price guide below should give a reasonable idea of the range of prices for your chosen treatment.
Your second consultation is more in-depth, often including a 3D imaging assessment and simulation of outcome, as well as preparation for the day itself. This costs £150 and is included in the cost of your treatment.
|Treatment||Nights Stay||Total cost without planning fee (£150)||Total cost with planning fee (£150)|
|Bilateral breast augmentation **(+ mastopexy)||One night||£5,761||£5,911|
|Bilateral breast augmentation **(+ mastopexy) GADC||GADC||£5,655||£5,805|
That will depend on your anatomy. When you attend your initial consultation we will be able to give you a clear indication of the size that’s possible to achieve.
If your back pain is a direct result of your large breasts then breast reduction surgery should help to reduce your discomfort.
See note above
Every patient is different though you should be getting back to normal within a week of surgery. You’ll need to take it easy in the first two weeks though, a complete recovery may take 1-2 months.
It’s common to feel sick after having a general anaesthetic though the symptoms should be very short-lived and will hopefully settle quickly after you have had something to eat. However, it is possible administer an anti-sickness drug if you’re beginning to feel particularly bad. Your post-operative support team will closely monitor your recovery and will help you in whatever way they can.