Breast reduction surgery aims at balancing the figure, especially if a woman has a small frame and large breasts. This surgery involves reducing the volume and weight of the breasts and, in some cases, moving the nipple to a new location.
Reflecting on global trends, breast reduction was the sixth most popular cosmetic surgical procedure in Australia in 2009, with around 4,500 operations performed. Its popularity is increasing, and in 2010 breast reduction moved up the ladder to the fifth most popular cosmetic surgical procedure in the American market. The number of breast reductions in the US increased by over 20% between 2009 and 2010.
Women with very large breasts often suffer physical discomfort in the form of back and neck pain. Bra straps supporting large breasts can dig into the shoulders causing bruising and an indentation. Physical issues aside, large-breasted women often feel extremely self-conscious.
Women who have experienced abnormally excessive and rapid growth of the breasts may have a rare condition called breast hypertrophy. Hypertrophy usually affects both breasts and occurs around puberty. Talk to your doctor if you think you may have this condition.
Women opt for breast reduction surgery for both medical and aesthetic reasons.
You are a good candidate for a breast reduction if you have any of these issues:
Many women have a breast reduction after pregnancy if they find their breasts have grown. Some women have the procedure before having children; others wait until that phase of their lives has passed. Discuss your plans with your surgeon, who can advise you on breast-feeding after this surgery.
You need to discuss the following options with your surgeon prior to surgery:
Depending on how much work is involved, a breast reduction takes 2-3 hours, performed under a general anaesthetic. Patients usually stay in hospital either overnight or for 2 nights following surgery.
After incisions have been made, excess skin, tissue and fat from the breasts is removed, the nipples repositioned and the skin re-draped and stitched together.
Small tubes may be inserted into the wounds to allow accumulated fluids to drain. These will be removed after a few days. You will also have gauze dressings on your breasts, usually covered with a surgical bra or elastic bandage.
For the first few days after surgery, your breasts will be bruised and swollen. Your surgeon may ask you to wear a compression garment for up to a week to keep swelling to a minimum and support your breasts as they heal. Sometimes mild swelling can last up to four months.
Initially, incisions will be red or pink in colour. Over time and with correct scar management treatment, these scars will fade.
You may also have slightly less sensation in your nipples and areolas than you did before. This is normal and usually temporary. Sometimes it can take weeks, months or even a year before normal sensations return.
Although walking as soon as you are able helps avoid blood clots, strenuous activities such as exercise and heavy lifting should be avoided for at least a month.
You may feel some level of discomfort from time to time. This is normal. If you have severe pain, contact your surgeon. Your surgeon may recommend wearing a sports bra for extra support for six weeks following surgery.
There are several things you can do leading up to any kind of surgery.
Advise your surgeon if you have lost weight recently or plan to lose weight in the future. Your surgeon may recommend that you stabilise your weight before having breast reduction surgery.
For women of 35 and over, a mammogram is often recommended before breast reduction surgery, followed by another mammogram about a year later. These two scans give the radiologist a baseline for comparison with other scans in the future.
There are also a number of things you can do following any type of surgery.
In addition to following general post-surgical instructions, there are important things you can do to ensure successful healing following your breast reduction:
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved in breast reduction surgery. You should be fully aware of these before you elect to have the procedure. Make sure you familiarise yourself with the list of complications that could arise as a result of any surgery.
Specific complications that may occur after a breast reduction include:
The best way to reduce risk in any surgery is to find a fully qualified surgeon with formal training in breast reduction surgery, who has performed the procedure many times. And just as you would discuss potential benefits before surgery, ask your surgeon to address the potential risks as they apply to you.
The cost of a breast reduction will vary depending on the surgeon you choose and the facilities used. Your surgeon will help you estimate potential costs after an initial consultation.
Expect surgeon’s fees for a breast reduction to cost between $6000 and $8000 (AUD). You’ll need to add the assistant surgeon’s fees, anaesthetist’s fee, hospital facilities and the cost of follow up visits to this figure.
Some Australian private health insurers may help pay for the hospital bed and theatre fees. Getting a doctor’s referral may enable you to make a claim on these costs.
You should expect the costs to be higher if you are having combined procedures at the same time.
This information is correct as of 2017.