1.5 to 3 hours
1 to 2 nights
General or local with sedation
6 – 12 months
A breast reduction, which is also known as a reduction mammoplasty, is a surgical procedure that aims to reduce the size of a woman’s breasts. It is often referred to as a “boob reduction”. It is important to have a good understanding of the surgery before you go in for your operation. This breast reduction overview will provide you with a short introduction.
You may consider having a breast reduction if your breasts are causing you physical discomfort, or you are unhappy with the size and shape of your breasts. A breast reduction can help:
Many women may choose to have this procedure done if their breasts are causing them unpleasant physical symptoms such as:
Your surgeon may also choose to combine your breast reduction with a breast uplift and/or a nipple and areola reduction. This is so that they can achieve an overall more aesthetically pleasing result.
Women who are unhappy with the size of their breasts may benefit from having a breast reduction. Although some patients choose to have this procedure done for cosmetic reasons, many also want it done to reduce unpleasant physical symptoms. The ideal breast reduction candidates can therefore include women who experience the following:
Women choosing to have a breast reduction for cosmetic purposes may want to do this because of:
Ideal candidates should be physically and emotionally healthy. They should also not be pregnant or nursing. If you have recently had a baby, you should wait 3 to 6 months after you have given birth and stopped nursing before you have your surgery.
Optimising your general health can increase your suitability for a breast reduction. You can achieve this by: doing regular exercise, reducing your alcohol intake, eating a healthy diet and stopping smoking.
A breast reduction procedure aims to:
In most cases, the breast reduction will also include a breast uplift (mastopexy). Combining these two can create a better aesthetic result. Whether or not your surgeon includes an uplift can depend on the size of the reduction, as it may not be necessary for a small reduction.
Your surgeon will be able to tell you the details of what a breast reduction can achieve during your consultation.
A breast reduction procedure requires your surgeon to make a skin incision before they can remove the excess breast tissue. The choice of which type of skin incision your surgeon will make is separate to the choice of which tissue removal technique they will use. This therefore means that there is a large variety of combinations of these two steps that surgeons can use for the procedure.
As your breast tissue contains ducts and glands that produce milk, removing parts of this tissue will have an impact on your ability to breastfeed. This means that the amount of tissue your surgeon removes and the methods they use to remove it will determine the extent to which you are able to breastfeed after surgery.
The skin incision technique will not greatly affect your ability to breastfeed, but it will represent the final appearance of your scar.
When choosing which techniques to use for your breast reduction procedure, your surgeon will consider your:
Your breast reduction procedure will involve the following steps:
Before you have your breast reduction, you will need to sign a consent form for the surgery. You will meet your surgeon and anaesthetist to sign the form after they discuss the procedure with you. Normally, you either sign this form on the day of surgery or during your pre-operative assessment.
Your anaesthetist will give you your anaesthetic. Depending on what you and your surgeon have agreed upon, you will either have a general anaesthetic or a local anaesthetic with IV (intravenous) sedation.
Your surgeon will begin by making an incision on the skin. The choice of which incision they will use depends on how much excess skin you have. The types of incisions that your surgeon can make include:
This incision is made around the full circumference of the areola. It can only remove a small amount of tissue and is therefore most appropriate for very small breasts.
Surgeons use this incision for small to medium sized breasts.
The most common incision used for breast reductions is the inverted-T incision as it is most appropriate for larger breasts.
After your surgeon has made the skin incision, he will remove the breast tissue to decrease the size of your breasts. The different breast tissue removal techniques include:
The most common technique that surgeons use are the “pedicle techniques”. These involve leaving a section of breast tissue called a pedicle attached to the nipple and areola. The pedicle contains a blood supply, nerve supply and milk ducts. This therefore allows for better preservation of nipple sensation and a higher chance of being able to breastfeed after the procedure. It is important to keep in mind however, that each technique will affect your ability to breastfeed differently. The two most popular ones are the inferior pedicle and the superior pedicle.
The pedicle is positioned below the areola where there is a large nerve supply. In combination with an anchor skin incision, this method is the most popular surgeons. They often use it for larger reductions.
The pedicle is positioned above the areola. This technique is most often combined with a lollipop skin incision.
Another type of tissue removal technique is a “free nipple graft”. This involves the surgeon removing the nipple, removing the underlying breast tissue and then stitching the nipple back on. Surgeons do not commonly use this method as there is poor preservation of nipple sensation and the ability to breastfeed will greatly reduce.
After your surgeon removes the excess breast tissue, they will close the incision with stitches.
You will go back to the ward to recover after your breast reduction. As this procedure is quite invasive, most patients will need to stay in hospital for one to two nights.
Your breast reduction procedure may also include a breast uplift. Surgeons often combine these two procedures to help achieve a better result.