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Breast reduction

 

Who typically has a breast reduction?

Mr Morritt most frequently performs breast reduction in Sheffield for patients who:

  • want to reduce the size of their large breasts
  • have differently sized breasts (breast asymmetry) and want the larger breast reduced
  • want to improve breast symmetry after breast reconstruction

 

Large breasts – common problems

Genetics (inherited), hormones and body weight are known to affect breast size.  People with large breasts frequently experience a variety of problems.

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Physical symptoms

  • Pain
    • Back/neck/breast
  • Breast drooping or sagging
  • Bra straps digging in and leaving grooves on the shoulders
  • Sweating in the crease under the breast causing skin irritation
  • Difficulty
    • Getting clothes to fit
    • In undertaking exercise

Emotional problems

  • Self consciousness
  • Due to unwanted attention or unpleasant comments relating to the size of the patient’s breasts
  • Low self esteem

 

Breast reduction – procedure

Mr Morritt performs breast reduction at the Claremont Private and BMI Thornbury hospitals, and also the Royal Hallamshire hospital (NHS) in Sheffield. The are a number of different methods of performing a breast reduction depending on your size and shape.  The most common techniques used involve surgical removal of excess skin and breast tissue followed by reshaping and lifting of the breasts and nipples.

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Breast reduction surgery is performed under general anaesthesia and involves an overnight hospital stay. The blood/nerve supply to the nipples is maintained by keeping a stalk of breast tissue attached to the chest wall (this is called the pedicle). The nipples are then lifted to their new higher position, excess skin and breast tissue are removed, and the remaining breast tissue reshaped and stitched together. Surgical drains are inserted into each breast at the end of the procedure to drain blood and inflammatory fluid. The drains are removed the day after surgery. Patients are given a support garment to wear for 6 weeks following the surgery in order to protect the breasts as they heal.

 

For massive breast reductions (rare) it is sometimes necessary to completely separate the nipples from the body and then replace them in their new position (this is called a free nipple graft procedure).  Liposuction can be performed at the same time as breast reduction to remove excess fat from the armpit area if necessary.

 

Scars

The scars from the surgery can differ depending on how much excess skin and breast tissue are removed. There is always a scar around the areolar (because the size of the areolar is usually reduced as part of a breast reduction) and a scar running from the areolar to the crease under the breast (this is often called a lollipop scar). In many patients who have larger breast reductions or have a lot of spare skin on their breasts, it is usually necessary to add an additional scar that runs in the crease under the breast (this is called an inverted ‘t’ scar or ‘anchor scar’).

 

Breast reduction using liposuction

In some rare cases, patients who have very fatty breasts (typically the elderly) may be suitable for breast reduction using liposuction where fat is sucked out of the breasts to reduce their size. This avoids the typical scarring of the more commonly performed breast reduction procedures but is limited in that no skin is removed and the breasts themselves are therefore not lifted to the same degree as when skin is removed.

 

Recovery after breast reduction

People heal at different rates with the young and fit usually healing faster than the elderly or those with other medical problems. It typically takes approximately two weeks to fully heal from breast reduction surgery and we therefore generally recommend taking two weeks off work as a minimum to allow time to heal from surgery. Patients are advised to avoid strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for 6 weeks following surgery.

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The breasts immediately following surgery will be a different shape and slightly higher than their expected final shape and position which can take around 6 to 9 months to develop.  We advise patients to avoid wearing underwired bras until the feeling returns to the skin under the breast.

 

Breast reduction – frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Mr Morritt answers a number of frequently asked questions about breast reduction surgery on the Claremont private hospital, Sheffield website – Read more.

 

Can I breastfeed after breast reduction surgery?

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Some patients are able to breast feed after breast reduction surgery however, as the procedure itself involves removing part of the breast gland itself (where breast milk is made), it is not possible to guarantee that patients will be able to breastfeed after surgery.  If retaining the potential (some women who have not had surgery are unable to breastfeed) ability to breast feed is very important to you, we recommend delaying the surgery until you have completed your family.

 

Breast reduction – risks of surgery

Breast reduction is a very frequently performed procedure and the vast majority of patients having the surgery heal without significant problems.  Mr Morritt has incorporated a number of safety modifications into his practice to reduce the risks for patients having surgery.  Patients should understand that as with any other surgical procedure, there are potential risks with breast reduction surgery.

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  • Bleeding causing haematoma (a collection of blood)
    • can affect up to 1 in 10 patients
    • more frequent in patients with high blood pressure
    • can cause a lump in the breast that may take months to resolve
    • may require a further operation to stop the bleeding and remove the collection of blood
  • Poor scarring
    • thickened & raised (hypertrophic/keloid) – commoner in young patients or patients with afro-Caribbean ancestry
    • stretched – commoner in patients with stretch mark skin
  • Numbness
    • includes permanent numbness of nipples or skin
  • Nipple loss/death
    • very rare
    • more common in smokers
  • Delayed wound healing
    • more common in smokers
    • usually managed with regular dressings
  • Breast/nipple asymmetry
    • after surgery the size, shape and position of nipples will not be identical on both sides but will be very similar
  • Overcorrection/undercorrection
  • Fat necrosis (lumpiness)
    • generally the lumps disappear but this can take a few years
    • sometimes the lumps are permanent
  • DVT/PE
    • Blood clots in the legs or lungs which if not treated can be fatal
  • Infection
    • usually requires a course of antibiotics
  • Cup size – it is not possible to guarantee a particular Bra cup size following surgery but a reasonable estimate can usually be given before surgery
  • Drooping or the breasts
    • with time the breasts will droop as part of the natural ageing process.
    • will be quicker in patients with poor skin quality (stretch marks)
    • will be quicker in those who lose weight
  • Risks of general anaesthesia

 

Breast reduction useful links

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Before and after breast reduction photos