Note: this article is expanded on from a video of mine about Breast Reduction Surgery. If you would like to view that video, you can view it here.
In this article we are going to talk about breast reduction surgery, otherwise known as reduction mammaplasty, a quite common procedure that women come in requesting for.
What is breast reduction surgery?
The goal of breast reduction surgery is to reduce the volume of a patient’s breast tissue while at the same time, re-shaping, repositioning, and tightening the lower pole of the breast which produces a fuller look to the upper pole of the breast. Through this surgery patient’s end up with a more youthful look to their breasts, not too dissimilar to that of a breast lift.
Why do women choose to have breast reduction surgery?
Patients come in seeking breast reduction surgery for several reasons, although all have the obvious connection of their breasts being too large for them personally.
Some woman come in saying they are unable to exercise because of the excessive weight that they have on the chest. They find it troublesome to go jogging or to attend a gym as well as having feelings of extreme self-conscious about the size of their breasts, causing them to be unable to feel as though they can exercise comfortably.
We also get many patients who complain of significant neck, back and shoulder pain, and typically they come in with red straps on their shoulders from their bra straps having been digging into them from the heavy weight of their breasts on a daily basis.
One last aspect we see is that some patients have also developed emotional problems the result of dealing with many if not all, of these situations for many years. Breast reduction surgery is not just about reducing the physical pain of dealing with large breasts, but also that of the associated psychological effects of the impact of large breasts our patients have on a day to day basis in their lives.
When is the right time to consider having breast reduction surgery?
Determining the appropriate time at which to undergo breast reduction surgery is particularly important. I see many young adolescent girls coming in requesting breast reduction surgery, being at the age group where they are more prone to being embarrassed about the way that they look. They are either just about finished school or entering university and are around peers that might not suffer the same issues or understand the problem and challenges that they have. All they want to do desperately, is to feel like they belong in their social circle.
But, it is important to understand that if they were to have breast reduction surgery at that age, that is before they’ve had a family, the effects of any pregnancy and breastfeeding on their tissues can certainly change their breast if and when they do decide to become pregnant. After having children, they might find that with the inflation and deflation of the breast gland that comes with breastfeeding, their tissues actually become a lot more loose and floppy once pregnancy and breast feeding is done. So it’s important for these patients to consider their plans for the future so they aren’t having to look at potential revision surgery again in years to come.
To the contrary, if an older woman is to come in wanting to consider the same operation, I would routinely go through the same discussion with them if they had not already finished with family. If they had not, I would highly suggest that they consider finishing their plans with family first, and not be planning any further pregnancies and childbirth before pursuing a breast reduction operation. We want to ensure that surgery is done once. So, reducing the possibility of any reversed aesthetics outcome as a result of hormonal changes in body, such as those that would come with further pregnancies, is important to consider beforehand.
One last thing that I always point out to patients is that weight changes of either significant weight loss or significant weight gain can also cause women to put a lot of volume onto or lose a lot of volume from their breasts. This changes in weight can also reverse some of the results that we are trying to achieve during a breast reduction operation. So, it is especially important that our patients have a stable weight, or at least are happy with their existing weight, and are not planning to lose or gain a significant amount of weight before they undergo a breast reduction operation.
What are the potential complications of breast reduction surgery?
Breast reduction surgery, as with all surgery, carries potential risks and complications. These include both general complications and risks associated with any type of surgical procedure, as well as those associated with breast reduction surgery more specifically.
General complications and risks of surgery include things such as pain, bleeding, post-surgical infection, and blood clots, called DVTs that may travel to your lungs causing pulmonary embolism. We do give blood thinning injections regularly to prevent that from happening, however, some patients can still be at risk of blood clotting and DVTs.
More specific breast reduction related complications include things such as wound dehiscence and nipple sensation losses. Nipple sensitivity post breast reduction surgery is however, something difficult to predict. In some patients nipple sensation can actually be increased, in other patients they lose a degree of sensitivity or even go completely numb after the operation. This is something to be mindful of.
Another common question and concern that patients ask about is breast feeding after breast reduction surgery. We say to our patients that around 30% of women undergoing this operation may have trouble breastfeeding afterwards. However, that’s on par with the general community, in the sense that around 30 percent of woman that haven’t had any form of breast surgery may also experience problems with breastfeeding. So essentially, from a statistical perspective, it does not make too much of a difference on the probability and likelihood of being able to breast feed post reduction surgery.
Thinking of breast reduction surgery?
Breast reduction surgery is something that takes significant consideration and experience as every patient’s journey and reasons are unique. If you are thinking about breast reduction surgery, for any reason, I’d love to start with a consultation. We can discuss your goals for surgery and your future plans and determine the best way forward for you.
To book a consultation, please go here to request a call back.
Dr Marion Chan