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Breast Reduction procedure, what to expect

Breast reduction is for women who have problems associated with being big breasted. Some problems associated with big breasts are back or shoulder pain, shoulder grooving from bra straps, inflamed or moist skin below the breast.

Basically when you have a breast reduction a large amount of tissue is removed from within the breast. The downside to this operation is that there is no way around it leaving you with a long scar. The scar will go right around the nipple, down the centre of the breast below the nipple and along the crease below the breast. The scar below the breast extends up till the armpit, and will be quite visible when you are wearing swimsuits or sleeveless tops. The scars, after a few years, may begin to widen/stretch. The scars are red in colour but the colour will begin to fade on it’s own or can be accelerated by using silicone gel sheets. If left to fade on their own it is usually 18 months or so until there is a significant fade or with the use of Scar Heal Silicone Gel sheets, the fading and flattening of the scar can be reduced to around 6 months.

Breast Reduction Scar

Typical Breast Reduction Scars

Breast reduction surgery interferes with the blood and nerve supply of the skin and the nipple. The result being that there will be changes to the nipple sensations. In some woman a decrease in sensation occurs with a numb feeling, while other woman have increased sensation and some degree of tenderness. Because of the interference with the blood supply to the nipple, the areola (the coloured area surrounding the nipple) might break down. These areas are usually slow to heal and will leave a scar on the nipple or areola on one or both sides. This complication is quite serious and would require further surgery in the reconstruction of the nipple. Luckily this complication does not happen very often.

Breast reduction surgery also affects the milk ducts of the breast. You will not be able to breast feed after the surgery has been done. So if you are planning to breastfeed in the future it would be best to wait until after to have the surgery done.

Fat Necrosis can also occur sometimes. This is when the fat tissue in the breast starts to go hard and form tender lumps. These lumps tend to settle after a few months and if they don’t surgery will be required to remove the troublesome areas.

Just like any other surgery breast reductions can give problems with infection or bleeding. If a simple infection develops it is treated by a course of antibiotics. However if the wound becomes red and is painful, you are advised to see your surgeon or your GP as soon as possible. Infections that are caught early on are much easier to treat.

Bleeding after your operation can result in a collection of blood called a haematoma. It usually heals on it own but if not, it will need to be drained in theatre so the wound can heal.

The surgeon will talk to you about sizing the beasts according to the proportion of your body. Looking at your breasts before the surgery you will notice they are asymmetry (unevenness in the size or position). This is totally normal, and in some woman may be more obvious than in others. After the breast reduction there is still asymmetry but will not be noticed by other people.

Occasionally when your breasts have settled after surgery small folds of skin appear at the end of the scars. These scars are called “dog ears”. If after 6-12 months they have not settled, you will have to go in to have them removed as a day case patient under local anaesthetic.

The stitches will dissolve and the steristrips (thin strips of adhesive dressing) will have to stay on for a period of four weeks. You are only allowed to shower after a period of 7-10 days depending on the dressings. You are allowed to wear a sports bra or a firm crop top a day or two after the surgery. If you are unsure of what you are allowed to wear please discuss the matter with the breast care nurse.

For a period of two to three weeks you will not be allowed to drive, or do strenuous exercise or any heavy lifting. All other activities can be resumed when you are comfortable to do so.

Be aware that your breasts will be very swollen and bruised after your breast reduction. This will disappear in the first few weeks after surgery. Before the swelling goes down the breasts will appear high and firm. After the swelling has gone down, your breasts will start to settle and relax into a normal shape. It could take up to a year before the full results will be achieved.

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