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Breast Reduction – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Breast Reduction Surgery?

Breast Reduction Surgery is a highly safe and effective means of permanently reducing breast size in patients for cosmetic and physical reasons.

Will the scars from my Breast Reduction Surgery be noticeable?

The incision lines will be permanently visible, although they will fade over time, and they are placed so that clothing can hide them.

Will I be able to Breastfeed after Breast Reduction Surgery? 

There is a risk that you will not be able to breastfeed following breast reduction surgery, and this is dependent on your unique anatomy.  If this is a concern, you need to discuss this with your surgeon during your consultation.

What type of anaesthesia is used for Breast Reduction Surgery?

Usually, a general aesthetic is administered meaning that you will be asleep throughout your breast reduction surgery, and upon completion, you will be taken into a recovery area where you will be closely monitored until the anaesthesia wears off and you wake up.

Why do some patients have drain tubes after Surgery?

In many instances, small drain tubes will be placed in your breasts to help avoid the accumulation of fluids, and they will be removed a few days after your surgery.

What will I wear on my Breasts to protect them after my Surgery?

Gauze dressings will be placed on your breasts, and they will be covered with an elastic bandage or a surgical bra for protection.

How will I feel after my Surgery?

Immediately following your surgery you will feel tired and groggy from the anaesthesia and that is why it is required that a family member or friend drive you home.  It is also important that you arrange for a caregiver the first few days, as you will need help, and it would be best for someone to monitor you as well.

The day after surgery, you will be encouraged to get out of bed for short periods of time, because walking will help prevent blood clots from forming.  After several days, you will be able to move about more comfortably, however, straining, bending, and lifting must be avoided since these activities can cause increased swelling or even bleeding.  You will also be instructed to sleep on your back to avoid any pressure on your breasts.

If you had surgical drains inserted during your surgery, they will be removed in 1-2 days, and your dressings will also be changed during that office visit.  You will be instructed to wear a support bra for a few weeks, until the swelling and discoloration of your breasts diminishes. If necessary stitches will be removed in stages over a period of approximately three weeks, beginning one week after surgery, unless dissolvable sutures were used.

When will I be able to return to work?

Most patients are able to go back to work within one week but it is important to remember that the full results of your surgery may not be evident for several months, and as your body adjusts and heals: you must listen to it. Your surgeon will monitor your progress and he will explain that patience is crucial, because taking on too much too soon, may impede or even impair your healing process, requiring additional surgery.

Is it normal for my Breasts to lose sensitivity after Breast Reduction Surgery?

Breast reduction surgery does run the risk of nipple sensation loss, and the amount of risk depends on your particular breast size and shape, so it is important to discuss this with your surgeon during consultation.  You may notice that you feel less sensation in the nipple and areola areas, and this is usually temporary although it may take weeks, months, or even up to one year before sensation returns to normal. Your breasts may also require some time to assume a more natural shape. Incisions will initially be red or pink in colour, and they too eventually fade and heal after several months.

What is a good age to have a Breast Reduction Surgery?

It is advised that breast reduction surgery be performed after the age of 20 because the breasts are usually fully developed after that age.  Exceptions can be made however, for teens who suffer significant emotional and psychological effects from having breasts that are too large.

Can I have a Breast Reduction before I have children?

It is usually advised that if you want children you should consider postponing breast reduction surgery, because changes to breast tissue during pregnancy could alter your surgical results.  Another risk is that after breast reduction surgery breastfeeding may be difficult.

What kinds of incisions are used in Breast Reduction Surgery?

There are several different incision techniques used in breast reduction surgery, depending on the amount of tissue reduction you need.  One common incision is the vertical or “minimal scar” incision that involves a scar around the nipple, and another incision leading down in a straight, vertical line resembling a ‘lollipop’ shape.  Women with extremely large breasts need the more standard “anchor” procedure, involving an incision around the nipple, a straight vertical line, and a horizontal incision along the inframammary crease; resembling an anchor.

Is the nipple left attached to the Breast during the Breast Reduction Procedure?

In the vast majority of breast reductions, the nipple is left attached to the breast, with the exception being in patients that have extremely large breasts.  In this case, occasionally the nipple needs to be removed and reattached in a free nipple graft procedure.

When will I be able to resume normal activities?

After breast reduction surgery, it is often possible to return to work within a week (depending on your job), and in many instances most normal activities can be resumed after several weeks, including various forms of mild exercise.  You must be extremely gentle with your breasts for at least six weeks, and you may experience some discomfort during this time. Any severe pain should be reported to your surgeon immediately.

Will I need to have additional surgery to keep my Breasts the same shape and size after Breast Reduction Surgery?

Unless you gain or lose a significant amount of weight, or become pregnant, your breast size should remain the same, although gravity and the effects of aging may eventually alter the size and shape, as it does every woman’s breasts.  If after a period of years you become dissatisfied with the appearance of your breasts, you may choose to undergo a breast lift procedure to restore a more youthful contour.

What will my Breasts look like after Surgery?

Breast reduction often makes a dramatic change in your appearance and for this reason: it may take some time to adjust to your new body image, even though you finally have the smaller, lighter breasts you have always wanted.  Although most women love their new figure, your body may not feel like “you” at first, but eventually, women love their new figure.  The level of patient satisfaction resulting from breast reduction is among the highest of any plastic surgery procedure performed.

What are the most common incisions used in Breast Reduction Surgery and where are they located?

A breast reduction typically involves three incisions: one around the areola, one vertical incision from the bottom edge of the areola to the crease under the breast, and one incision beneath the breast in the crease following its natural curve. This is commonly referred to as the “anchor” incision. Newer techniques are used to remove the lower horizontal incision, giving a “lollipop” shaped incision.  Once the excess tissue and skin are removed, your surgeon will close the incisions, paying meticulous attention to the shape and overall appearance of your breasts.

How do I know if a Breast Reduction is right for me?

Women with very large breasts are often limited in the type of clothing they can wear, they feel inhibited in their ability to participate in sports or other activities, they are extremely embarrassed by the size of their breasts, and/or they suffer from many medical issues from debilitating back and shoulder pain to irritating skin rashes.  Whether you are self-conscious about your breast size or you would like relief from the excess weight of your large breasts, your surgeon can help you decide if breast reduction surgery is right for you during your consultation.

If I decide I want a Breast Reduction, how soon will I be able to have the Surgery?

After you consultation with your chosen Reconstructive Consultant Plastic Surgeon, you will be able to schedule your surgery at your convenience, based on availability.

When will I see the results of Breast Reduction Surgery?

You will notice your smaller, firmer breasts immediately after surgery and as you continue to heal you will enjoy the freedom of a more “normal” bust line that allows you to be more active, eliminate the physical ailments associated with large breasts, and you will be able to finally wear the latest, flattering new fashions.

Will I have to do anything special before my Surgery?

You will have to stop taking blood thinning medication and NSAIDs (such as aspirin) at least two weeks before your surgery and if you smoke, you will have to quit at least one month before and one month after your breast reduction, to eliminate the possibility of bleeding complications and other risks.

How is a Breast Reduction performed?

During your breast reduction, your surgeon will remove excess breast tissue from the top and sides of the breast, through a series of incisions. Once the desired size and shape are achieved, he will reposition the centre breast tissue, areola, and nipple to achieve a youthful, lifted appearance.

How long does Breast Reduction Surgery take?

Depending on the complexity of your surgery and the technique used, breast reduction surgery takes approximately 2-3 hours to perform.

Why should I undergo Surgery to reduce my large breasts?

If you are a woman with overly large breasts, breast reduction surgery can be a life-changing option for you.  Smaller, firmer breasts will give you significant relief from numerous physical and emotional discomforts, a new sense of freedom for participating in physical activity, and the ability to wear clothing that fits instead to baggy clothing that you wear to hide your breasts because you are self-conscious about their size.

What will happen during my first consultation?

When you are considering breast reduction surgery, your first step is to call our office and schedule a consultation a consultation with one of our Reconstructive Consultant Plastic Surgeons.  During this visit, he will assess your physical and emotional health and discuss your specific goals, to determine if they are realistic and can be achieved.  He will examine your breasts, consider their size and shape, the quality of your skin, and the placement of your nipples, before measurements and photographs will be taken for your medical records.

What is a traditional Breast Reduction?

Some women with very large breasts may be better candidates for a traditional breast reduction surgery. This procedure requires general anaesthesia, a longer recovery period, and a large vertical scar around the nipple to remove the excess fat and tissue.  All options will be discussed during your consultation to determine which technique is right for you.

Is Breast Reduction permanent?

Breast reduction surgery should be considered permanent, although the remaining fat cells will swell and enlarge if you gain weight, and if you become pregnant the tissues will increase in size because they take on fluid and store milk.  Natural or synthetic hormones may also cause breast tissue to swell, and if you take hormonal supplements, it is quite possible to gain small amounts of breast tissue back.

Will I be able to handle the pain?

Pain tolerance is different for every person and any breast reduction pain connected with breast reduction surgery is minimal to moderate, which can be controlled with oral pain medication.  You will also be prescribed antibiotics that you will take post-operatively for several days, to prevent infection. Discomfort is minimal if you rest, limit your activities, and strictly follow the instructions provided by your surgeon.

How long does it take the swelling and bruising to go away?

It takes 1-2 weeks for most of the swelling to subside. Some people are more prone to bruising than others, so results vary from patient-to-patient.

Are there any risks involved in Breast Reduction Surgery?

Complications are rare but with every surgery there are some risks involved that may include asymmetry, blood loss, swelling, bruising, infection, blood clots, and permanent numbness.  These and any other complications will be discussed in detail during your consultation.

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