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A patient's guide to cosmetic surgery sponsored by Nuffield Health

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Nuffield Health, a leading provider of cosmetic surgery in the UK, with a network of 30 private hospitals across the country.

Cosmetic surgery

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Breast reduction surgery guide

Breast reduction

Breast reduction surgery, also known as reduction mammoplasty, is a cosmetic procedure that removes excess fat and skin from large breasts, reducing the overall size and providing a breast uplift to give the breasts a firmer, younger look.

Why consider breast reduction surgery?

While large breasts are considered an asset by many women, excessively large breasts can cause physical discomfort as well as attracting unwelcome comments. Women with large breasts often report back pain, neck pain, aching in the shoulders and soreness underneath the breasts and on the top of the shoulders where tight bra straps rub the skin.

Many women with very large breasts are overweight generally but doing any form of exercise as part of a weight loss programme is difficult because of the discomfort; sports bras tend not to come in extra-large sizes.

What is involved in a breast reduction?

Breast reduction surgery is a major operation and is always done when you are under a general anaesthetic. You will be in theatre for between 1.5 and 3 hours and your wound will have a drain for at least the first 24 hours afterwards. Women having a breast reduction usually stay in hospital for about 2 nights.

Your breast surgeon will explain the procedure beforehand, so that you can discuss what you want from the operation and what size you would like your breasts to be. It is important that you understand what is possible and what is not – as with many other forms of cosmetic surgery, having realistic expectations is the key to being satisfied with the result.

During the surgery the breast surgeon makes incisions under the breast and in the breast fold, so that the scars are as hidden as possible. Excess fatty tissue, along with pieces of skin are cut away and removed. The cosmetic surgeon will also cut around the areola, the dark area of skin around the nipple so that it can be placed higher up the breast. The breast is then shaped into a tighter cone – this part o the surgery is the breast uplift – and then the incisions are closed using stitches that dissolve away on their own.


After your breast reduction

You will feel sore and bruised and your breasts will be swollen. However if you have had very large breasts, you will notice the difference in size immediately. Most women cope with over-the-counter painkillers (ibuprofen and paracetamol) to lessen the discomfort in the first few days and you will be encouraged to be mobile as quickly as possible. Once your drains have been removed you can go home.

Most breast reduction surgeons will advise you to wear a well fitting sports bra for 3 weeks after surgery, by which time you should be feeling well enough to return to work and light activities. It’s a good idea to avoid lifting anything heavy or starting strenuous exercise for at least 6 weeks. The final result will become apparent only after about 6 months, when your scars start to fade and your final breast shape emerges after healing is complete.

What risks are involved in a breast reduction?

A breast reduction operation carries the same risks as any surgery, including bleeding and infection. Specific risks include:

  • Loss of sensation in the skin of the breast or in the nipple because nerves in the skin are cut during the operation.
  • Uneven or asymmetric breasts or lumpy breasts. The position of the nipple may not be the same in both breasts. These issues may need further surgery to correct.
  • Stiffness in the back or shoulder in the first few weeks.
  • Not being able to breastfeed afterwards.

What does breast reduction surgery cost?

Typical range in a UK private hospital or clinic is £3,520.00 - £7,320.00.

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