Breast reduction surgery has many physical and psychological benefits for patients, it’s not a purely cosmetic procedure. However, before undergoing reduction surgery, patients should be aware of the downsides that can come with the procedure. It can truly be a life-changing operation in carefully selected patients who are fully informed. Plastic surgeon Mr Kelvin Ramsey talks to us about eligibility for breast reduction surgery and what you should know before making the decision.
Who is eligible for breast reduction surgery?
Any woman who has issues with the size of her breasts can be eligible for breast reduction surgery. Some common reasons why women want to reduce the size of their breasts include:
- They have problems with mobility
- Difficulties playing sports
- They experience back pain or neck pain or pain from bra straps
- They are unhappy with the appearance of their large breasts
Women don’t have to have a particular breast size to be eligible for a reduction. If the size of their breasts is affecting their everyday life, then reduction surgery may be an option. Some women can’t find clothes to fit them or break out in a rash below their breasts.
However, if women with modest-sized breasts want to reduce the size of their breasts, then other options could be discussed. It should also be remembered that psychological factors will be taken into account before carrying out any operation.
Who would not be recommended to have breast reduction surgery?
As with any surgery, there are risks. For some people who cannot have an anaesthetic or who have other co-morbidities, the surgery can pose significant risks, so it would not be recommended.
Women planning to have a family soon should take into account the after-effects of the surgery, as it can affect their ability to breastfeed. The operation can damage the milk ducts, making breastfeeding more difficult, so women planning to have children need to be warned about this before having the operation.
Another factor to take into consideration is that the appearance of a woman’s breasts can change after having a baby, so if a woman plans to have children, they should think about having a breast reduction after they have had the baby.
Does breast reduction surgery help with weight loss?
If a patient is planning to lose weight, it’s recommended that they get to their ideal weight before the surgery. This is because if a patient loses weight after a breast reduction, it will cause the breasts to droop more quickly.
On the other hand, if breast size is restricting women from exercising, having a breast reduction can make exercising easier, helping patients to lose weight.
It’s good to note that breast reduction surgery doesn’t work in cup sizes, but the surgeon will aim to reduce the breasts so that they are in proportion to the patient’s body frame.
How long does breast reduction surgery last?
The operation can last from two to three hours and requires an overnight stay in the hospital. The patient needs to take things easy in the first couple of weeks, avoiding any strenuous exercises or heavy lifting. Recovery can take up to six weeks, with some soreness in the first few days. Sports that use the upper body, or gym training, should be avoided for these six weeks.
What are some possible complications?
There are some possible complications with breast reduction surgery such as bleeding, problems with wounds healing, infection, abnormal scarring and asymmetry.
Scars are not a complication but rather a side effect of surgery. These are permanent and must be considered when deciding if this operation is right for you.
Another downside is that 20-30% of women end up with numb nipples for the rest of their lives or experience numb patches on the breast skin. It can take up to 18 months for the feeling to come back but in a small proportion of cases, it is permanent.
Your surgeon will explain that it’s very important to keep the blood supply to the nipples during surgery. This dictates the amount of breast tissue that can be removed, to a certain extent.
Do breast reduction scars go away?
Breast reduction scars are permanent, and although they will fade to appear less obvious and pink, the scars will remain. The nursing team can recommend topical creams and ointments such as a topical silicone scar treatment to improve the appearance of the scars, and this is an important part of the recovery aftercare.
Can breasts continue to grow after breast reduction surgery?
It is possible that breasts continue to grow after a breast reduction. This is often due to gaining weight after the surgery, although hormonal changes can also cause this, including the use of contraception and hormone replacement therapy.
Are you considering having a breast reduction? Book an appointment with Mr Kelvin Ramsey to talk about your options.