Large breasts can cause pain, improper posture, rashes, breathing problems, skeletal deformities, and low self-esteem. Breast reduction surgery is usually done to provide relief from these symptoms. Performed under general anesthesia, the two- to four-hour procedure removes fat and glandular tissue and tightens skin to produce smaller, lighter breasts that are in a healthier proportion to the rest of the body.
Breast reduction surgery (reduction mammaplasty) is not recommended for women who intend to breast-feed, since many of the milk ducts leading to the nipples are removed.
During the breast reduction procedure an anchor-shaped incision is made from the new location of the nipple down to and around the crease beneath the breast. The surgeon removes excess glandular tissue, fat, and skin, relocates the nipple and areola, and reshapes the breast using skin from around the areola before closing the incisions with stitches. Liposuction may be needed to remove excess fat from the armpit area, and in cases when only fat needs to be removed from the breasts, liposuction alone is used for breast reduction.
For a few days after surgery the breasts are bound with an elastic bandage or a surgical bra and you may be given surgical drainage tubes for fluid removal. Stitches come out in a week and the surgical bra must be worn for about a month.
A little pain is normal after breast reduction, whether it's mild discomfort, swelling during menstruation, a measure of numbness or sensitivity, or random, shooting pains that may last for a few months. Swelling, bruising, crusting and slight changes in breast size are also common. Most patients return to work in about two weeks, although you should avoid heavy lifting for three to four and only gentle contact with the breasts should occur for six weeks.
Scars fade with time but will not disappear, although they can be hidden with a bra, bathing suit or low-cut top.
Risks are rare and usually minor but may include bleeding, infection, reaction to the anesthesia, small sores around the nipples, slightly mismatched breasts or unevenly positioned nipples, and permanent loss of feeling in the nipple or breast.