Breast reduction

Also known as reduction mammaplasty, breast reduction surgery removes excess breast fat, glandular tissue and skin to achieve a breast size in proportion with your body and to alleviate the discomfort associated with overly large breasts.

Breast reduction can help relieve the physical symptoms associated with large or heavy breasts such as:

  • Breast discomfort
  • Neck ache, backache and 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.

What surgery is available, and what techniques are involved?

Most breast reduction surgery begins with the nipple, which is lifted into a new position. Excess skin and breast tissue is then removed, and the remaining breast tissue reshaped to create a smaller and more elevated breast.

Breast reduction surgery is a fairly complex operation that takes between two 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). The drains will usually be removed before you go home. Patients will be mobile from day one and should be back to full exercise within six weeks.

What complications can occur?

Whilst these operations are generally regarded to be highly successful, there are various negatives and complications that patients need to consider. Most patients are delighted with the physical and cosmetic improvements that breast reduction brings. However, it is impossible to guarantee that a particular cup size will result. There will be minor asymmetries between your breasts. Occasionally patients will bleed immediately after the operation and need to go back to the operating room for this to be dealt with. Most wound problems are minor and can be managed with simple dressings. In some cases, the operation can result in the loss of the nipple. Some patients will get alteration in the feeling of the breasts, this will often improve after the operation, but it is possible that you will lose feeling in a nipple. After many breast reduction techniques it will still be possible to breast-feed, but this ability might be lost.

  • The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
  • The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons
  • The Royal College of Surgeons of England