Breast appearance is a defining characteristic of femininity. When a woman feels that her breasts are different to her ideal shape and size, it can affect her self-esteem.
Some women develop very large breasts from an early age, and this commonly runs in families. Breast enlargement can sometimes persist after pregnancies. Women with large breasts can develop back, neck and shoulder pain and also rashes under their heavy breasts. Exercise and choice of clothing can be restricted as a result of the size of their breasts. These ladies can also have poor confidence and low self-esteem due to the disproportion between their breast size and the rest of their body.
Breast reduction is an operation performed to reduce the size of one or both breasts to address the challenges that these ladies face. It is performed under general anaesthetic, takes 2 to 3 hours, and requires a hospital stay of 1 to 3 days. There are a variety of different techniques, which can be tailored to address the needs of the individual. Following the surgery, the breasts are smaller and more youthfully positioned higher on the chest. Scarring may be restricted to a circle around the nipple area and then a vertical scar from the nipple to under the breast, or may require this with additional scar extensions under the breast fold. This is one of the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures and has a high patient satisfaction rate and low complication rate.
Breast reduction procedures should be partially rebatable by all leading private health funds. It is important to obtain a referral from your family doctor to be eligible for this.
Am I suitable for Breast Reduction?
Ladies in good general health and within a healthy weight range will be best suited to this procedure. Individual suitability is a matter for you to discuss with Dr Woods during your clinical consultation. During this consultation, Dr Woods will discuss with you the particular type of breast operation that will best address your particular concerns.
What are the benefits of Breast Reduction?
Breast reduction surgery aims to reduce the size of the breasts, to create a breast size and shape that is more in keeping with the rest of the body shape. Usually relief in back, shoulder and neck pain due to the heaviness of the breast is provided. This procedure can improve patient confidence and give patients an opportunity to wear clothes and swimwear that they would previously be too embarrassed to wear. Ladies who have been restricted in sport and exercise by their breasts previously enjoy the opportunity to participate in these activities again.
Where are the scars?
The scars are placed around the nipple and may extend vertically down under the breast and along the breast fold under the breast. All scars are designed to be hidden under the average bra or bikini top. Dr Woods will discuss with you the option that will be most effective in your case.
Is the procedure painful?
Breast reduction is not recognised as a very painful procedure. It is common to feel some discomfort in the breast area, particularly for the first few days. While in hospital, strong painkillers can be given to keep you comfortable. On discharge, pain can usually be managed with simple analgesics like paracetamol, and stronger pain relief tablets are provided if needed.
How long does it take to recover from surgery?
Most ladies are able to get up and walk around gently on the day after surgery, though it is wise to take two weeks off from work to allow yourself to recover. You will need to wear a firm supportive sports bra for six weeks after the surgery. It is also recommended to take six weeks off before returning to vigorous exercise, sport and any activities involving heavy lifting.
When will I notice the results and how long will they last?
The change in breast size and shape will be immediately apparent when you wake up from your procedure. A full appreciation of the changes requires bruising and swelling due to the procedure to settle and for the normal scar maturation process to occur. Breast shape can change a little over the next few months, and the final result can usually be judged at 9-12 months following surgery. Results of breast reduction are long lasting.
Will I be told the risks and complications?
All operations have a risk of complications, however major complications are uncommon after breast reduction or breast lift surgery. During your initial consultation, Dr Woods will have a thorough discussion with you about the risks and complications of surgery. Fortunately with careful selection of the correct procedure for the specific patient's concerns, risks can be kept to a minimum. You can be reassured that Dr Woods will only recommend surgery if he feels that the benefits of the procedure substantially outweigh the risks.
Important Note when Choosing Your Surgeon
In Australia, just about anyone with a standard medical degree is allowed to perform cosmetic surgery. In fact, currently there is no legislation to stop any doctor from calling themselves a 'surgeon', even without formal surgical training.
Your only safeguard is to look for the letters FRACS under a doctor's name and check that they are affiliated with the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), as only fully qualified plastic surgeons have these titles and memberships. They confirm that your doctor has completed many years (at least 10 years) of training and examinations in surgery -far beyond the medical school period.