Breast Reduction Surgery FAQ

Patient Information

Breast Reduction Surgery Common Patient Questions

As you decide to undertake your breast reduction surgical journey, you’ll no doubt have many questions. I encourage you to ask as many and all of the questions that come to mind to ensure that your mind is at ease as you go through this process. 

Below I’ve answered some of the more common questions patients ask me. This also helps ensure that you get the most out of your consultation and helps you think of other questions that you may contemplate asking. 

As you read the below, I have no doubt some questions will remain. I suggest that you write them down to bring to during our discussion. This way you’ll ensure that you don’t forget any questions you have now, at a later date. 

For more general breast surgery questions visit the General Breast Surgery FAQ

Breast Reduction FAQ

The weight of a set of large droopy breasts can often lead to a rather flat upper part of the chest, with a good portion of your breasts sitting towards the centre to lower part of the chest wall. A breast reduction operation usually requires re-arrangement of your breast tissue, which will result in an auto-augmentation type effect - leading to a more lifted shape after surgery. Most patients are pleasantly pleased by this effect and feel great about themselves.

The great thing about this operation is that it not only reduces the volume, but changes the shape of your breasts to give you better projection to achieve more of the "cleavage" look most women are after.

The reduction in volume (and weight) means less neck, back and shoulder pain.

While it is patient dependant, many patients who have undergone it are happier as they can exercise more efficiently with smaller breasts. They are able to buy bras that fit them which do not cost a fortune (most people with large breasts need special order bras which are horribly expensive and sometimes they are unable to find ones that fit properly). Most also enjoy the "lift" effect from the operation too.

Generally patients present with one or a number of the following complaints:

  • Droopy breasts which are large and heavy.
  • Causing neck/back/shoulder pain.
  • Embarrassing to go out especially at exercise classes and gym.
  • Difficulty in getting a bra which fits the very large size

Breast reduction can be done in many different ways, with a variety of different incisions
The incisions include:

  • Around the nipple only (rarely done if an actual reduction is required as opposed to only a lift - as there is limited ability to remove excess tissue and volume from the rest of the breast).
  • Lollipop scar pattern, or variations of (scar around the nipple with a vertical component from nipple down to the breast crease) - a very common technique. This allows the removal of a good amount of excess tissue and the ability to perform a lift at the same time with re-arrangement of the breast gland.
  • Inverted T pattern - same as above with lollipop scar pattern, except the vertical component of the scar meets at a T junction with the horizontal scar at the breast crease. This is sometimes necessary if you have a significant excess amount of loose breast skin which requires tightening.

A breast reduction commonly requires removal of breast tissue volume and loose skin. The gland is sutured closed after re-arrangement of tissues. In doing so, we are often able to create a "lifted" effect.

This is called an augmentation mastopexy and is a complex procedure where the need for this is tailored individually to each patient. We would be aiming at augmenting the breast by inserting an implant. A certain degree of "lift" will be achieved by this. We can tighten the skin over the top if you have spare loose skin, thereby further "lifting" the breast by removing some of this loose skin.

This will depend how much work is required - a very large reduction vs a very small reduction/lift. If you fit the criteria you may be eligible for government medicare and/or health fund. If you do not, you may be required to pay cosmetic hospital fees which are not covered by your health fund.

Breast reduction surgery may be covered if you suffer from large pendulous breasts which cause you pain in the neck or shoulder region, however, cannot be associated with the insertion of any implants.

Medicare will help provide a small subsidy for breast reduction, if you satisfy their criteria for surgery.  Claiming is done through the use of a Medicare item number "45523", from either Medicare directly (in uninsured patients), or through your health fund (if privately insured).  For all privately insured patients, it is important for you to check with your current health fund that you are covered for care in a private hospital for that particular item number (45523), which would result in your hospital costs being covered also.
To satisfy the Medicare criteria for this item number (45523), surgery includes a Bilateral Reduction Mammaplasty (breast reduction), with repositioning of your nipples.  You must demonstrate:
  • Pre-existing macromastia (large breasts) which result in neck or shoulder pain
  • Where the procedure is not associated with insertion of any breast implants/prosthesis

Breast Reduction Concerns

  • General risks surgical risks including bleeding, infection, wound breakdown, blood clots (lungs and legs).
  • Anaesthetic risks associated with general anaesthesia.
  • Specific risks such as altered nipple sensation, trouble with breast feeding after the operation.
  • Every operation will carry both surgical and anaesthetic risks and will be discussed during your consultation.

If you are on any blood thinning and heart or lung related medications this may be an indication that you are not as fit as you can be for this type of aesthetics surgery, and may place you at a higher risk of post-operative complications (eg. bleeding, wound breakdown and blood clots in your legs/lungs).

Provided you are fit healthy and well, and of an appropriate weight, breast reduction surgery is very safe. There are always risks and complications associated with every surgical procedure (as above) which will be discussed with you at the time of your personalised consultation.

Most patients don't find they suffer from any significant debilitating pain after the operation, and are fairly comfortable on a regular dose of simple pain relief such as panadol and/or ibuprofen. Most stay overnight to ensure they are able to care for themselves prior to being discharged home the next day.

Not recommended if still recovering from another operation. Breast reduction is an elective operation which is not a "necessity". Recover from your other operation first before you have a breast reduction. 1) you will find it hard to look after yourself and may hinder the recovery from both operations 2) any potential complications you experience from one operation may hinder the recovery of there other operation - you don't need that kind of stress.

Rest and recover. You will have swelling after the operation so you will need to wear a soft supportive bra for 6-8 weeks to assist the healing process which will also reduce the amount of pain and discomfort. Make sure the bra doesn't have an underwire because it will otherwise be quite uncomfortable and press on the wounds at the breast crease.

Frequently, girls can become quite debilitated in their late teens with overly large breasts that cause back and shoulder pain, and cause embarrassment and restrictions during physical activity and sports. It is not recommended that these girls undergo breast reduction surgery until they have finished puberty and reached full development.

In males, excessive breast development (gynaecomastia) can also be an embarrassing and debilitating problem. The excess tissue can be removed via liposuction and sometimes in combination with a discreet incision, but once again this is not recommended until puberty and full development has been reached. Anabolic steroid use is a common culprit and cessation often results in regression in the excess breast tissue growth in males.

The First Step

Have A Different Question?

I encourage you to write any questions you have down for your consultation. This way we can ensure that every thought and concern that you have is addressed and answered for your piece of mind. 

If you have questions following your surgery, please contact the clinic on (03) 9988 1838 so we can address them for you promptly.