Breast Reduction

Breast reduction is obviously an operation to make large breasts smaller. For suitable women it can be a life-changing procedure. Some women with heavy, pendulous breasts experience problems that can be improved dramatically by making the breasts smaller.

Such problems include: shoulder/neck/back pain, skin problems under the breast and bra strap grooves. In addition some women are very self-conscious about their breast size.

Women who are good candidates for breast reduction will usually be experiencing one or other of these problems, be generally fit and be non-smokers.

Admission and Aftercare

You are generally admitted on the day of surgery, occasionally the day before. You will be re-examined and the site of the scars drawn on the breasts. The operation takes about 2 to 3 hours depending on the extent of surgery required. Dissolvable stitches are used and a waterproof dressing of glue is applied. A support dressing is used for 24 hrs and after it is removed you will be advised to wear a supportive bra day and night for a 3-4 weeks. A day case operation is possible but most women are recommended to stay overnight and some women stay 2 nights. This often depends upon your general fitness and the degree to which you can be looked after at home.


Breast reduction is an operation that is not associated with a lot of pain. It is however associated with tenderness that gradually settles over a 3-4 weeks. You will need to take mild pain-killers for the first few days. You will go home self-caring and most women are able to perform normal activities within a few days of this operation. Overall recovery and return to work will depend upon a variety of factors including what type of work you do (e.g. lifting may be uncomfortable for a few weeks).

Appearance of the Breast after Breast Reduction

The breasts will have scars around the areola (the coloured area around the nipple) and vertically down from here to the crease under the breast. In most women a scar is also required along this crease. This gives an anchor shaped scar. Without the scar along the crease, the appearance of the scar will be more like a lollipop and this is a good option for some women. The breast will initially be a little bruised and the scars a little lumpy but within a few weeks the breast will settle into its new shape. Please view examples of some of my patients in the Gallery.

Complications - What can go wrong?

Any operation can be associated with infection or bleeding. Wound healing can be particularly affected by infection and smoking. Any operation can be associated with anaesthetic problems (nausea in particular), venous thrombosis (although precautions are taken routinely) and allergic reaction to drugs or dressings. Occasionally lumpy areas develop where the breast has been rearranged. These usually gradually resolve although can take up to 2 years to settle. Sometimes sensation to the nipple can be affected and very occasionally the nipple feels numb after breast reduction.

Very, very rarely the blood supply to the nipple fails after breast reduction and the nipple has to be removed. This is a greater risk in some cases when the breast is very large and pendulous. To prevent problems in such situations, re-positioning the nipple as a skin graft or reconstructing a nipple may be discussed with you.

No two breasts are the same and this is true after breast reduction - you will not be 100% symmetrical.