Breast reduction, also called reduction mammoplasty, is designed to relieve the physical discomfort often associated with very large breasts and to enhance the overall appearance of the breasts. Women undergoing this procedure may feel self-conscious due to having large breasts and may be quite restricted, particularly in relation to sport. Large, pendulous breasts can also result in a variety of medical problems caused by their excessive weight. The most common of these include back and neck pain, posture problems, skin irritation and rashes under the breasts and bra straps leaving indentations in the shoulders. Occasionally, overly large breasts can lead to skeletal deformities and breathing problems.

The Procedure

A breast reduction is a two to three hour operation performed under general anaesthetic in an accredited hospital. Breast reduction surgery removes fat, glandular tissue, and skin from the breasts, making smaller, lighter, and better-shaped breasts which are in proportion with the rest of the body. The methods of reduction and reshaping vary and depend upon the patient’s breast size, wishes and individual needs. The most common technique for this procedure involves an anchor-shaped incision that circles the areola, extends downward, and follows the natural curve of the crease beneath the breast. In most patients, the scarring can be further minimized with a vertical reduction technique which removes excess breast tissue and skin but without the horizontal scar that is left by the anchor technique. In both techniques, the surgeons achieves the desired breast shape and size and then repositions the nipple and areola to sit in a higher, more youthful location. Liposuction may be used to remove excess fat from the armpit area.
In most cases, the nipples remain attached to their blood vessels and nerves preserving sensation and the ability to breast feed. However, if the breasts are very large or pendulous, the nipples and areolas may have to be completely removed and grafted into a higher position. (This will result in a loss of sensation in the nipple and areolar tissue.)

Recovery From Breast Reduction Surgery

At the end of your operation, your surgeon will place you into a supportive, sports bra that is worn day and night for the first week after surgery. You will stay in hospital for one to three nights. Some patients will have drains to siphon away the excess fluid of swelling from under the breast skin. Following the surgery, your breasts may be bruised, swollen and may ache for a week or two. A comfort plan will be designed by your anesthetist to control any pain or nausea you might have after the surgery. Most of the stitches used will be dissolving and will not need to be removed. Weekly post-op care sessions with your surgeon and our nurses will ensure that your progress is closely monitored for optimal results.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Breast growth problems become apparent in puberty and it can be worthwhile seeing a plastic surgeon for reassurance regarding the causes and treatment of large breasts. In most cases, it is best to wait for breast growth to be completed before surgically reducing the size of your breasts. Your breasts have stopped growing when they have stayed a stable size and shape for at least one year. Breast reduction surgery can be performed before breast feeding as it will not effect your ability to breast feed. In some women, large breasts can make it difficult to mechanically handle their baby and the large size of their breast at the same time. Since breast feeding and weight changes will change the surgical result, many women chose to wait until they have completed having children before they have surgery.
It is never too late to reduce the size of your breasts! Many women suffer for many years from back, neck and shoulder pain because they cannot find the right time in their life to have plastic surgery. Only patients with serious risk factors for poor wound healing eg smoking, should not go ahead with a breast reduction.
Breast reduction surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic in an accredited hospital such as St George Private, East Sydney private or Kareena private hospitals. Most patients are able to go home one to three days after the surgery.
The breast tissue cannot grow back but your breasts will change in size if you lose or gain weight. Your breasts will slowly fall with gravity but will likely never return to being as droopy again as they are not as heavy anymore.
In most patients, the scars will be located around the areola with a vertical extension down the lower pole of the breast (lollipop scar). Patients with a lot of skin excess or very heavy breasts, will additionally require a horizontal scar that is hidden in the inframammary fold.
The cost of breast reduction surgery is determined by the extended complexity and duration of your operation and will be estimated following your first consultation. However you can expect approximately $10,250 – 16,500 (prices variation depends on if you are insured) including the surgeon’s fee, assistant’s fee, anaesthetist’s fee, hospital stay and garments if necessary.
This procedure attracts an item number from Medicare which allows you to claim a rebate. If you have the appropriate level of health insurance cover, they may pay for your theatre and accomodation fees. Your item number from Medicare is 45520.
The breast tissue cannot grow back but your breasts will change in size if you lose or gain weight. Your breasts will slowly fall with gravity but will likely never return to being as droopy again as they are not as heavy anymore.
Breast feeding should be unchanged after breast reduction surgery as the nipple and its draining ducts and glands remain connected. Many women with very large breasts describe difficulty with breast feeding as they cannot manage the size of their large breast when trying to feed their child.
The sensation in your nipple may change straight after the surgery. This usually returns to normal within 6 weeks, but in some patients this can take one year.
You should be able to return to exercise gradually after surgery, with a return to brisk walking approximately one week following your breast reduction operation. However, it will take four to six weeks to be able to return to more vigorous activities such as swimming, tennis, and upper-body gym work
Breast reduction surgery slightly reduces the risk of breast cancer as a significant amount of breast tissue is removed during the procedure. A baseline mammogram should be performed one year after the operation in women are over 50 years of age.
The scar will encircle the areola and extend as a vertical line from the 6 o’clock position of your areola to the lower pole of the breast (lollipop shaped). The scars are initially pink and become white fine lines over the next year. In patients who have a tendency to make thick, pink scars (keloid or hypertrophic scars), then your surgeon will prescribe steroid injections or silicone patching to help make the scars softer and flatter.

You will be seen by your surgeon within 7 days of your surgery.Regular appointments are made to remove sutures and to check on your healing following surgery.

You will be given a Plastic Surgery Recovery guide upon booking your surgery. This document explains in great detail all of your after care following surgery.

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