TREATMENT TIME: 3-5 HOURS
RECOVERY TIME: AROUND 6 WEEKS
POPULARITY: 0.5 MILLION GLOBAL PROCEDURES IN 2017
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Everything you need to know about Breast Reduction
What is Breast Reduction?
Breast reduction, reduces the size and improves the shape of the breasts while relieving the physical and emotional burden of overly large breasts. It is often referred to as reduction mammoplasty.
Why do people have Breast Reduction?
The goal of breast reduction surgery is to reduce the size of your breasts and reshape them so that they are proportionate to the rest of your body and are no longer a source of physical or emotional discomfort.
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How much does it cost?
In the UK, Breast augmentation surgery costs around £4,000-£7,500, plus the cost of any consultations or follow-up care that may not be included in the price.
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You may be able to get your breast reduction surgery with NHS, if the weight and size of your breasts is causing functional problems: neck ache, backache and/or intertrigo, and symptoms are not relieved by physiotherapy and/ or a professionally fitted brassiere. The starting point is for you to have an appointment with your General Practitioner (GP) who will undertake a full clinical assessment and advise whether you can have surgery at the NHS.
If you choose to go private, we can help you spread out the cost of your treatment.
What are the key drivers for Breast Reduction cost?
Breast reduction costs can widely vary depending on the surgeon’s experience, the type of procedure used, anesthesia, the geographic location and operating room facilities.
Generally, higher surgeon experience and location in an area with a high cost of living, would generally mean higher costs. At the same time, higher experience may translate into lesser risks for you.
The type of procedure used would depend on the size and sagginess (also known as ptosis) of your breasts. Sometimes the surgery may be accompanied with a breast lift surgery, which would increase the overall cost of the procedure.
Most surgeons prefer general anesthesia for this procedure. A few may perform breast reduction with intravenous sedation, also known as “twilight sedation.” Breast Reduction surgery performed under general anesthesia costs more than procedures performed under local anesthesia.
Am I a good candidate?
If you believe your breasts are too large for your body frame and they are causing back and neck aches or making breathing difficult or are making you unhappy and self-conscious, then you may want to consider breast reduction.
However, it is very important that you are in good health, have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, and your skin has adequate elasticity, before undergoing this procedure.
Another important consideration is family planning. If you are planning to have a baby in the near term, pregnancy may affect the results of breast reduction. Also, breast reduction could possibly affect your ability to breastfeed in the future. It is important to discuss this with your surgeon during the consultation.
What are my options?
The surgeon makes the incisions and removes the excess breast tissue, fat and skin. After this, the nipple and areola are shifted up. Skin above the nipple is brought down and together to reshape the breast. If you have fatty breasts, need a minor-to-moderate reduction, and do not need to correct sagging, a breast liposuction may be right for you.
Here are some commonly used incision patterns:
- The “anchor” incision, made around the perimeter of the areola, vertically down from the areola to the breast crease and horizontally along the breast crease, produces the most scarring. It is for women with a severe degree of sagging who will not be helped sufficiently by less invasive techniques. This incision, which is the oldest technique, is often used for a breast lift in conjunction with a breast reduction.
- The “lollipop” lift, also known as a “keyhole” incision, made around the perimeter of the areola and vertically down from the areola to the breast crease, is suitable for women with a moderate degree of sagging who will not be helped sufficiently by the periareolar technique and who do not want breast implants.
- The “donut” lift, also known as the “periareolar incision,” made around the perimeter of the areola only, is suitable for women with a mild-to-moderate degree of sagging. When used by a skilled surgeon in conjunction with the placement of implants, it can produce a satisfactory result for patients with more pronounced sagging.
- The “crescent” lift, which is less commonly used, is an incision that lies just along the upper half of the areola. A crescent-shaped piece of skin is removed above that line, and the surrounding skin is reattached to the areola. This type of lift is usually done in conjunction with breast augmentation in women with minor sagging. It cannot accomplish the same degree of lifting as the other incision techniques.
- The “scarless” lift. For a select few women concerned more about volume loss than actual sagging, there are procedures to lift the appearance of the breast that are touted as scarless.
How long does the surgery take?
The surgery usually takes between 3-5 hours. Breast reduction is performed in a hospital or surgical center. An overnight stay is not usually required.
Is Breast reduction painful?
Breast Reduction surgery is not painful as it is generally performed under general anesthesia. When the anesthesia wears off, you may have some pain and feel discomfort after your surgery. This can be controlled with medication. If the pain is extreme or lasts long, contact your physician.
Are there any risks I should look out for?
All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Fortunately, significant complications from a breast reduction are infrequent.
Some risks specific to breast reduction are outlined below:
- Scarring: The scars will depend on the type of incision but they would be well hidden. They should fade over 12 to 18 months but occasionally could take longer or become thicker or painful. In this situation, you should contact
- Occasionally you may have hematomo or seroma, i.e. collection of fluid in the breast. The surgeon would drain the fluid by having a needle through the skin, or conduction another surgery.
- Damage to underlying structures Although rare, the surgery can damage deeper structures, including nerves, blood vessels, muscles and the lungs.
Changes in skin sensation: After the surgery, most patients will get increased or reduced sensation in the nipples. In rare instances, reduced sensation can cause problems with breastfeeding. If you feel the change in sensation for a longer period, you should contact your surgeon.
How do I find a surgeon I can trust for my breast reduction?
Choosing your surgeon is a hugely important step. This is THE person who is going to help you achieve the change you want and trusting in their abilities is key. Here are the three top things to consider when making your selection:
Breast Reduction should be done by a Plastic Surgeon who has a FRCS (Plast) or FRCS qualification and should be on the Uk’s General Medical Council (GMC) specialist register for plastic surgery. This ascertains that your cosmetic surgeon has received six years of training in plastic surgery on top of their general medical training.
Make sure your surgeon is experienced in breast reduction. The field of cosmetic medical treatments is rapidly advancing, whether it is the latest treatment techniques, products or services, an experienced surgeon is the best way to ensure comfort, safety, and satisfaction.
You are putting your trust in another individual and that means you need to find a practitioner that makes you feel in safe hands. Personality and respect is key, make sure you have a strong connection with your practitioner and that they listen to you and give honest, open advice in good measure.
We can help you find a surgeon you can trust. Click here to get started.
What does the initial consultation entail?
After finding a surgeon who is experienced in performing breast reduction, you will need to make an appointment for your consultation.
During your consultation, your surgeon will discuss your goals and medical condition, and evaluate you as a candidate for breast reduction. Your plastic surgeon will examine, measure and photograph your breasts for your medical record. Please go prepared and ask all your questions.
The session generally lasts between 30 to 60 minutes and at the end of the session your surgeon may recommend a treatment plan and you may be able to book the surgery.
Make sure that the consultation you attend is with the Plastic Surgeon. This is to be distinguished with free consultations offered by many places with Nurses or Patient Advisors/ Coordinators whose consultations are actually a pre-consultation before you see a Plastic Surgeon. Generally, because of the in-depth nature of the consultation with a surgeon, there is a cost associated with this initial appointment.
What is a Breast Reduction Cooling off period?
Breast reduction surgery is an important decision. It is essential that you are making the appropriate choice and understand all the implications of the surgery. If you are not offered a cooling-off period of around 2 weeks, or you are put under pressure to proceed, you should walk away and look elsewhere.
Would I be required to do anything prior to the surgery?
In advance of your procedure, your surgeon will ask you to:
- Stop smoking at least six weeks before undergoing cosmetic surgery to better promote healing.
- Avoid taking aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs that can increase bleeding.
- Keep alcohol consumption at less than two to three drinks per week.
- Regardless of the type of surgery to be performed, hydration is very important before and after surgery for safe recovery.
What is the recovery like?
Your surgeon will give you detailed care instructions, including normal symptoms you will experience, potential signs of complication, and the level and type of activity that is safe. The amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals, but the below gives a broad idea:
The first week
Immediately after surgery you should take light walks every other hour. Any surgical dressings and external sutures will be removed within the first week but you may be instructed to wear a compression bra.
Two to six weeks
You will be instructed not to exercise or engage in strenuous physical activities for at least 3-4 weeks. Don’t lift anything over five pounds and try not to raise anything over your head until your surgeon releases you for activity. Take your time in healing so that you give yourself the best healing environment possible. Your full range of motion should return between 6-10 weeks, depending on how well you have healed. You may not be able to wash your hair for a while, because you will not be allowed to raise your hands over your head. If you must wash your hair, have a friend assist you in the sink or basin or with a handheld showerhead.
Within 6 months you should be able to do all the things you couldn’t do and back to full recovery. It’s important to return to your plastic surgeon’s office for follow-up evaluation at prescribed times. Do not hesitate to contact your surgeon if you have any questions or concerns.
How long do the results last?
Your breasts should remain a consistent size, assuming you don’t have significant weight fluctuations or go through pregnancy. During pregnancy, breasts can get larger again and this may affect the results of the operation. However, gravity and the effects of aging will eventually cause your breasts to loosen and sag over time.