Breast reduction surgery is probably the most common operation performed in plastic surgery. From an operation that previously required several days of inpatient care, this procedure has become a single night stay.
This operation effectively reduces the volume of large breasts, reshapes and repositions the breast higher on the chest. It usually significantly reduces the back, shoulder and neck pain associated with heavy and pendulous breasts by reducing the weight and lifting the breasts. It helps to remove the discomfort associated with digging bra straps and rashes under the breasts. This can aid in improving self confidence, allow a wider choice of clothing, and make exercise more comfortable.
Patients need to be fit enough to have this surgery, and this includes having a reasonable body weight. For most patients, getting fit is made more difficult because of their heavy breasts and the symptoms they cause, yet getting this right before surgery makes this a very predictable and straightforward operation to go through, and recover from.
There have been significant advances in the techniques used for breast reduction surgery over the last several years. Following this evolution, Hamish now rarely uses the older “anchor” shaped scars (known as the ‘Robbins’ technique), but now uses only a vertical scar, which has a “lollipop” shape, with a scar around the nipple and dropping vertically down to the breast crease (known as a ‘vertical’ reduction, the “Hall Findlay” or “Lejour” technique). This particular method has several advantages. The (often unsightly) long horizontal scar in the breast crease is avoided, the breast shape is better and the recovery is faster.
The key points to this new way of doing this surgery are:
- One night stay in hospital only.
- No drain tubes are needed.
- No stitches are visible (they are all inside you, and dissolve).
The next day, after surgery you:
- Have your bandages removed by Hamish, and can shower, and wash the breasts.
- Can lift, carry, bend, stretch, sleep on your side – whatever is comfortable.
- Wear a latex crop top bra ( we provide these).
- Can drive in 1 week and can go back to work in 2 weeks in most cases.
Liposuction for breast reduction is another technique that may be an option for you. This would be determined at your consultation. This may be an option in the very young as a way of avoiding formal reduction surgery until growth is complete, or breastfeeding over. The main disadvantage is the shape – it can lack projection and may not give enough “uplift”.
Things To Consider
While each patient will have her particular wishes, there may be limitations on the shape and size that can be achieved. You will need to discuss your aims with Hamish. All patients get a smaller, higher breast, with almost guaranteed improvements in back, neck and shoulder discomfort. For some, headaches can also disappear.
The operation we use is designed to preserve the capability for breast feeding, and retain nipple sensation. However, in a small percentage of cases, there can be the inability to breast feed and the possibility of reduced or heightened nipple sensitivity.
You should also be aware however, that over time many factors will affect your new breast shape and size, including weight changes, pregnancy and breast feeding. Gravity will still ‘work’ on your smaller breasts over the years. Decisions to have surgery need to take all these issues into consideration, and this choice is not simple in women considering having a family in a year or two.
When is the right time to do this?
Hamish has done breast reductions on girls as young as 13, and women in their late 70’s. Teenagers who struggle with the social implications as well as the physical, are often good candidates to consider this. We have been very pleased with the feedback from parents and patients alike, following reductions in 16 and 17 year olds; with exercise and sport becoming more comfortable, and wearing bathers in public possible without the embarrassment that inhibited these girls before. For them the time was right, as their youth was being constrained by the impact of their large breasts.
This is one of the ‘happiest’ operations we do, with so many claiming they wish they had done this years before.