Breast Reduction Surgery
More commonly know as a Breast Reduction, is a medical surgery used to reduce and remove fat, glandular tissue and skin from overly large or drooping breasts. Dr Patrick Briggs is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon offering breast procedures that will improve the overall appearance of your breasts as well as alleviating pain and discomfort.
About the surgery
Large, heavy breasts can make women feel both physically and psychologically uncomfortable. The excess weight can cause back and neck pain, skin irritations, skeletal deformities and, in some instances, breathing difficulties. These challenges have made many teenaged girls and women extremely self-conscious about the size of their breasts, which is why most of them seek breast reduction surgery.
As one of the most successful and immediately satisfying aesthetic procedures, mammoplasty allows patients to enjoy a more active lifestyle, and it boosts self-esteem.
The procedure removes fat, glandular tissue and skin, creating smaller, better shaped and lifted breasts. If required, the size of the areola (darker skin surrounding the nipple) can also be reduced. The goal is to have attractive breasts proportionate to the rest of your body.
During your consultation, your breast surgeon will make a record of your medical history and discuss any prior operations. You will need to provide information on the results you hope to achieve. He will examine you and show you what to expect post-operatively by defining the area of breast to be removed and the new position of the nipple.
In addition, there are several factors you may wish to consider:
- It’s normal for breasts to be asymmetric, and while your surgeon will strive to make your breasts as symmetric as possible, they will never be truly identical.
- Scarring will take place, and while scars will eventually return to skin colour, they will remain visible.
- After surgery, breast-feeding is unpredictable. If this is of concern, you may choose to delay your procedure.
What to expect during your operation?
- A Breast Reduction is carried out under general anaesthesia; the procedure takes approximately two hours, and all you require is one night in hospital.
- Once the incision site is pre-operatively marked, the excess skin and glandular tissue is removed from the breast, leaving the nipple on a stalk. The nipple is then repositioned in a lifted position.
- The suture line is vertical in most cases, and extends around the nipple into a new position.
- Dissolvable sutures are used, dressings are applied and you’ll receive intravenous fluids for several hours.
- Sometimes drainage tubes are inserted to remove fluid or blood post-operatively, these are removed once any oozing has stopped. This relatively painless procedure usually takes place on the first day after your breast reduction. New dressings are then applied and you are sent home. (Some methods may not require drainage tubes – your surgeon will advise you accordingly).
With this procedure, blood clotting may sometimes be a problem; you are required to get out of bed and move around as soon as possible, and wear anti-embolism stockings (TEDs). These are a precautionary measure and should not be removed until you are advised to do so.
You will be able to see your new breast size just after surgery, however, the final shape of your breasts will only emerge after six months.
During your recovery period from a breast reduction there are several things you should expect:
Your breasts will be uncomfortable and slightly painful after a Mammoplasty. This is easily relieved, initially by injection and thereafter by taking two mild pain killing tablets such as Paracetamol or Nurofen, as required. Aspirin must be avoided because it increases bleeding.
Dressings should be kept clean and dry for up to two weeks following surgery to help the healing process. A comfortable, well-fitted bra is also necessary for the first six weeks.
Bruising may occur and swelling of the breast tissue will cause them to appear larger than anticipated. However, this should improve markedly in two or three weeks, and settle in two to three months. To help decrease swelling and bruising, we recommend you take Arnica for one week before surgery and two weeks after.
Expect to feel tired for up to two weeks after surgery. You may drive after the first few days but do not return to vigorous exercise for at least six weeks.
You may need additional dressings if healing is delayed, so don’t make any travel plans for a month or so. Healing takes longer if you smoke or drink excess alcohol.
Scars may initially be hard, red, raised and lumpy. These can take up to 18 months to fade in colour and flatten. This depends on individuals and their body’s healing qualities. Firm pressure from a well-fitting bra will help the scars fade faster.
Numbness of the nipples and the surrounding skin is common in the early stages, although in some instances sensation has returned very quickly. During the procedure, nipples are preserved on a stalk of breast tissue and, in the majority of cases, they naturally contract and retain relatively good sensitivity.
In some cases, the stalk of breast tissue has inadequate blood vessels and part, or even all, of the nipple may die. This complication means that dressings over the nipple area may be required until natural healing occurs. After healing it is possible to reconstruct the nipple in a secondary procedure.
During your breast reduction surgery your surgeon takes meticulous care to stem bleeding points. Occasionally, however, a blood vessel will leak after the operation. If a significant collection of blood (haematoma) occurs, it may be necessary to return to surgery. If a haematoma is minor, natural re-absorption will occur. However, if this concerns you, rest easy that you are consistently being monitored and taken care of.
With any surgery, there is a possibility of infection, but this is readily treated with antibiotics and/or dressings, as required. In some patients there is some minor loss of wound adhesion. This temporary complication results in a small scab, which separates after a few weeks.
Contact Dr Patrick Briggs for consultations about breast reduction procedures. Visit our Perth-based clinic or call us for assistance.