Breast reduction surgery (the medical is a reduction mammaplasty) is in the top 5 most commonly performed cosmetic procedures for both men and women. Clearly there are many women (and a fair few men) unhappy with their significantly larger than average breasts and who feel an operation is the best solution.
What problems do large breasts cause?
- Large breasts are heavy and often cause severe back and shoulder pain.
- They can be droopy and uncomfortable.
- Finding the correct bra can be a nightmare and they are often very unflattering.
- Exercise is very difficult and often painful due to excessive bouncing
- Psychologically many women feel embarrassed, as their breasts seem to be the centre of attention. Men frequently talk to a woman’s chest and not her face and brain.
- Clothes that fit properly are difficult to find and usually not very fashionable.
- Skin irritation is common underneath the breasts and the skin can be very red, itchy and sore
Given all these problems it’s no wonder so many women want a breast reduction.
How is breast reduction surgery performed?
Breast reduction surgery is major surgery and shouldn’t be taken lightly. It requires a general anaesthetic and the operation lasts between 2 – 4 hours. During the procedure, the volume of the breast is reduced by taking away breast tissue, fat and skin and stitching the breast back together.
Typically there are 3 incisions made.
- Under the crease of your breast
- Round your areola
- Vertically in the middle of the breast from your areola to the breast crease
The tissue removed from each breast is weighed as the surgeon tries to ensure the breasts are of equal size after the operation. Unfortunately, there is no clever machine that can do this so the surgeon has to judge it by eye. Despite this, the results are good for the majority of patients.
The nipple usually has to be repositioned and reduced in size. If the breasts are very big, the nipple may have to be removed entirely and then grafted back onto the breast. There is no guarantee that the nipple will heal well and all nipple sensation will probably be lost.
Will there be scars after the operation?
Yes, although over time they will usually fade. There is no way of avoiding them, although for many women the physical and psychological problems very large breasts cause are far worse than scars on their ‘new’ breasts.
Will I be able to breastfeed?
Probably not. Very few women can breastfeed after a breast reduction. The breast milk ducts are cut and separated from the nipple during the operation so if you haven’t yet had children you need to think long and hard before opting for surgery.
Will my nipples lose sensation?
More than likely after the surgery but sensation usually returns after a few weeks. Occasionally however it can be permanent.
In summary, a reduction mammaplasty is a commonly performed cosmetic surgery operation that has good results for the majority of men and women having it. Although it is a major procedure modern anaesthetic and surgical techniques make it a safe and effective treatment for thousands of people each week.