Breast reduction (mammoplasty)
Breast reduction surgery is performed by removing breast tissue and skin from below the level of the nipple and then relocating the nipple to a higher point on the breast, in the process reducing the volume (and weight) of the breast. It is also known as reduction mammoplasty (though this a more American term!).
Frequently asked questions
How is a breast reduction surgery done?
Breast reduction is performed under general anaesthetic and usually involves a one night stay in hospital. You will have a drain in either breast following the surgery and these are usually removed on the day after the operation. You will wake up in a ‘microfoam bra’, special medical taping that will help keep your breasts comfortable and supported for the first 2 weeks after your reduction surgery.
What will my breasts look like after reduction surgery?
After your breast reduction not only will you have lost the weight from your breasts (providing relief to your back and neck) but the uplifting effect of the operation will have improved the shape of your breasts, in essence reversing the effects of time and gravity!
What happens after the operation?
The recovery period following breast reduction is 6 weeks in total, however you should only require dressings for 2 weeks after the operation. During the 6 weeks after your breast reduction you will need to modify your activities until healing has occurred fully. For the first 2 weeks you will need to restrict yourself to light upper body activities, gradually building up to heavier tasks over the following 4 weeks. You can return to the gym after 6 weeks.
You will not be able to wear an underwired bra for 6 weeks after your breast reduction operation and should buy several snuggly fitting sports bras to help support your breasts in the post operative period.
Is there anything else I should know?
No one has 2 breasts that are the exactly the same on both sides! Although you will not be symmetrical following the procedure breast reduction surgery often has a symmetrizing effect. Any pre-existing asymmetries between your breasts will influence the final outcome of the procedure.
What are free nipple grafts when they are used?
Free nipple grafts are when the nipples are removed from the breast completely and sewn back on at the end of the procedure. The reason for doing this is that the size of the reduction in breast tissue required will be too large for the blood supply to the nipple to keep it alive. By removing the nipple and sewing it back on as a graft the problems with poor blood supply are overcome (skin tissue that is turned into a graft has a much lower need for nutrients and so can survive long enough for new blood vessels to grow into it). The trade off is that the nipple usually becomes paler in colour and loses some projection.