Large breasts can cause neck, back and shoulder pain. Approximately 4,245 women took on breast reduction surgery via private practice last year according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons’ 2020 audit.
If you’re considering breast reduction, you will want to know more about this procedure. We spoke with Miss Sujatha Tadiparthi, a leading UK plastic surgeon based in London, to find out what to expect from this surgery.
In this first part of our discussion with Miss Tadiparthi, she informs us how surgery can improve symptoms of pain and change the shape of your breasts, whether it is possible to have surgery on the NHS and the requirements to have this procedure.
In the second part, we will find out how breast reduction surgery is performed, the potential scarring, the aftercare, risks and the price of the procedure.
What is a breast reduction?
A breast reduction removes sections of skin, fat and breast tissue to reduce the size of large breasts. The procedure also repositions the nipples and reshapes the breasts to give smaller, more youthful looking breasts.
Is breast reduction surgery done on the NHS?
Breast reduction surgery can be performed on the NHS if you meet the necessary criteria. However, there are restrictions on your existing breast size or the amount of tissue that will need to be removed from your breasts and your BMI (weight / height ratio). The restrictions vary according to regions in the UK and can also change over time. Your GP may be able to guide you on the local NHS guidelines and advise as to whether you qualify.
Can a breast reduction help with my neck, shoulder and neck pain? What else can the surgery improve?
Large breasts can reduce the quality of your life with neck pain, shoulder pain and back pain. Rashes can also develop under the breasts and these can be hard to manage. You may find it difficult to exercise or wear the clothes that you wish. There can be a feeling of self-consciousness about large breasts and you may feel that others may be only looking at your bust area.
Many women after a breast reduction get good relief from the neck, shoulder and back pain if the breasts were the cause of the discomfort. Rashes no longer develop under the breasts. You should be able to exercise and be a lot more active. Often, women have newfound confidence with regards to their body and when interacting with others either at work or socially.
Does breast reduction improve the shape of breasts?
Large breasts can seem flat, pendulous, ‘droopy’ or ‘saggy’. A breast reduction not only reduces the size of your breasts but also repositions the nipples and reshapes to give a ‘perkier’, more youthful appearance.
Can a breast reduction improve uneven and asymmetric breasts?
Breast reduction can correct differences in the breast size, shape and nipple position. It is a really natural way to correct asymmetry rather than using breast implants. If the breasts are both large as well as uneven, then both breasts can be reduced in size and the nipples can be relocated to sit at the same level with each other. If you are happy with the size of one of the breasts, then the other breast can be reduced in size and nipple area lifted up to match and correct the uneven breasts.
What are the requirements for surgery?
The main requirements include:
- Smoking: if you are a smoker, it is critical to completely stop smoking 2 to 3 months before and after surgery. Smoking significantly reduces blood supply to tissues and increases the risk of poor healing, wound infection, fat necrosis and skin or nipple loss.
- BMI (weight/height ratio) needs to be less than 36. If you wish to lose weight, it is best to do so before surgery and be stable in weight 2 to 3 months ahead of surgery.
- Blood thinners such as, aspirin, warfarin, clopidogrel will need to be stopped ahead of surgery and if you have any medical conditions, these will be assessed to see if you are fit for surgery under general anaesthetic.
In part 2 of our conversation with Miss Tadiparthi, we will find out how breast reduction surgery is done, how much scarring the procedure leaves, the aftercare, risks and the potential price of the procedure.