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Female Breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty), also known as a Reduction Mammoplasty, is a surgical operation to reduce the weight and volume of the breasts. During the procedure, fat, glandular tissue and skin are removed from the breasts, which are then reshaped and the nipples repositioned.
Breast size is determined by genes, hormones, body frame and weight. For most women, breast size is proportionate to the body, but for some, the breasts are particularly large. Large breasts can cause physical symptoms such as: Discomfort, Backache, Neck pain, skin irritations.
Psychological distress: Common complaints from women with large breasts include not being able to wear fashionable clothes and finding it difficult to take part in active sports.
Large breasts are particularly sensitive to the hormone oestrogen. They can grow particularly large during adolescence or later in life following the menopause or because of the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Some women also develop a noticeable asymmetry (difference in size or shape) between their breasts.
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Breast reduction surgery can help women who are unhappy with the shape, weight or drop of their breasts by making them smaller and more lifted. However, breast size alters with body weight, so even after surgery, your breasts may increase in size if you put on weight or become pregnant.
If you're considering breast reduction surgery, consult a board-certified plastic surgeon. It's important to understand what breast reduction surgery entails including possible risks and complications as well as set realistic expectations. Also have a look at Breast Augmentation and Breast lift for further information.
Childbirth: If you haven't started a family or your family isn't yet complete, you might decide to wait as breast-feeding might be challenging after breast reduction surgery — although certain surgical techniques can help preserve your ability to breast-feed.
Weight loss: If you are interested in losing weight by changing your diet and starting an exercise program, you might wait to decide if reduction mammoplasty is for you. Losing weight can often result in changes to your breast size.
Breast reduction surgery: Usually performed under general anaesthetic (when you are asleep). You will be asked to follow fasting instructions before your operation. Typically, you cannot eat or drink for six hours before having the anaesthetic. Surgery takes between one-and-a-half and three hours. You are usually required to stay in hospital for one or two nights. The aim of surgery is to create a natural shape and retain as much function and sensation in the nipples as possible. The surgeon will use a pen to mark areas of the skin where the incisions (surgical cuts) will be made. With your permission, the surgeon may also photograph your breasts for confidential before and after images for your records.
Most breast reduction surgery begins with the nipple, which is moved to its new position, usually while still attached to the blood supply. If you have extremely large breasts, the nipples may be removed and repositioned as a skin graft. They will develop their own blood supply. Excess skin and breast tissue are then removed. The remaining breast tissue is reshaped to create smaller and more elevated breasts.
Breast reduction techniques
There are various different ways to do a breast reduction. Your surgeon will decide which is most appropriate for you depending on the size of your breasts and the desired outcome. Techniques include:
Anchor type or inverted T reduction: the most common type of breast reduction, results in an anchor-shaped scar starting around the nipple, travelling vertically down and then horizontally across the breast crease.
Vertical pattern breast reduction: results in a circular scar around the areola, the brownish or pink ring of tissue surrounding the nipple, and a vertical scar passing downwards. This technique has the advantage of leaving no scarring under the breast but is not appropriate when dealing with large breasts and may take longer to heal
Circumareolar reduction: only results in a circular scar around the areola. This technique is only suitable when removing a small amount of tissue.
Male Breast Enlargement
Enlargement of male breasts is known as gynecomastia. Large breasts in men are often believed to be a result of obesity, but this is not the only cause. Men, like women, can have an abnormal growth of glandular breast tissue, usually due to a hormone imbalance.
Other causes of enlarged male breasts include: Excessive alcohol intake, Use of certain drugs, particularly anabolic steroids, certain diseases, such as liver failure and cancer, congenital abnormality (a problem from birth)
Male breast reduction surgery usually takes an average of one hour. The surgeon will make an incision around the areola and liposuction may be used to suck out excess fatty tissue. If there is a lot of tissue to remove, cuts may extend down the chest from the areola and the nipples may need to be repositioned.
You will be required to stay in hospital overnight, take a few days off work to rest and avoid lifting or strenuous physical exercise for one month after the operation. An elastic garment also needs to be worn for one to four weeks after the operation to encourage smooth results.
Additional factors to consider:
1. Recovery time and Risks: When you wake up after having breast reduction surgery, your breasts will be bandaged and plastic tubes may be attached to your breasts to drain blood away. After one to two days, any tubes will be removed and you should be able to go home. You may experience some pain for a few days, which can be relieved with painkillers.
Once you have returned home, depending on your age and general fitness, you will need to rest for two to six weeks. The length of time you need to keep the dressings on will depend on how quickly your wounds heal. After one to two weeks, your stitches will either dissolve or be removed at an outpatient clinic.
At your follow-up appointment, your surgeon will advise you when you can resume your normal activities and return to work. You may need to take two to four weeks off, depending on what your work involves. Avoid stretching, strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for up to six weeks after your operation. You also need to keep your breasts supported by wearing a well-fitting, wireless sports bra.
Breast reduction surgery has the same risks as any other type of major surgery bleeding, infection and an adverse reaction to the anesthesia. Other possible risks Scarring, Removal of or loss of sensation in the nipples and skin surrounding the nipples (areolae), Difficulty or inability to breast-feed, Differences in the size, shape and symmetry of the surgically altered left and right breasts, which might lead to further surgery to improve your appearance
2. Success rate is extremely high: It is likely that your breasts will be swollen and feel tender and lumpy after surgery. The final appearance of your breasts may not be obvious for several weeks. Scars are usually quite red for the first six weeks after surgery. They then change to a purple color over the next three months before fading to white. Most scars heal well but occasionally patients are left with red and lumpy scars that do not improve in appearance.
3. Patient reviews: The vast majority of patients are extremely happy with not only the results of the procedure but with the entire process leading up to and following the surgery.
4. For an in-depth and personal review of the pros and cons of Breast Reduction, including before and after shots, watch this video blog.
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