A breast reduction, also known reduction mammoplasty, is a surgical procedure that aims to reduce the size of the breasts. It is the second most commonly performed plastic surgery procedure performed in the UK after breast enlargement. To help you in your research, this overview provides a breakdown of the procedure costs and a short introduction to surgical techniques, patient preparation, and aftercare.
Breast Reduction Procedure Overview
Why have Breast Reduction Surgery?
You may consider breast reduction surgery if your breasts cause you physical or emotional discomfort, or if you are simply unhappy with the shape and/or large size of your breasts.
Reducing the size of the breasts via breast reduction surgery can help to:
- Balance a difference in breast size
- Provide the breasts with a smaller and more aesthetically pleasing look
- Reduce unwanted attention associated with large breasts
- Make movement and exercise easier
- Ease neck, back, and/or shoulder pain
- Ease skin irritation under the breasts
- Make it easier to fit in clothes like button-up shirts or dresses
You can learn more about the ways this surgery can ease upper-body pain here,
Does Breast Reduction Surgery Include a Breast Lift?
The reduction mammoplasty procedure is often described as a two for one procedure.
This is because the procedure for reduction is nearly identical to that for a breast lift. The only difference is that more breast tissue and skin is removed during a breast reduction. Lifting the breast corrects breast sagging, also called ptosis, as visualised in the diagram below.
How much does a Breast Reduction Cost?
The price of breast reduction surgery can vary between £4000 to £7000, on average, in the UK you can expect to pay around £6000 for the breast reduction procedure. There are various factors that could contribute to price fluctuations such as
- Surgeon experience
- Chosen Hospital
- Anaesthetist experience
- The complexity of the procedure for your case
- Amount of hours required in surgery for your case
- Additional combined procedure requirement
In order to get a tailored price adapted to each personal case, patients will need to be examined by a surgeon to ensure that the procedure can be done considering their individual needs. A patient's personalised price will be all-inclusive and take into account all your requirements, the tailored breast reduction price will cover:
- Highly rated CQC hospital cost
- Surgeon's experience (BAAPS/BAPRAS)
- Anaesthetist time and expertise
- Any overnight stays that are required
- Follow-up appointments and aftercare
Consultation, like all plastic surgery consultation, are free with no obligation. A breast reduction consultation will enable patients to ask all their important questions, get to know a surgeon and for the surgeon to assess them and make them aware of the possible outcomes of their surgery.
Medbelle Breast Reduction Surgery Cost
Breast Reduction Surgery | Finance, Insurance & the NHS
Who are BAPRAS and BAAPS?
When searching for a plastic surgeon to perform your breast reduction, make sure you choose one that is a member of either BAAPS or BAPRAS. BAAPS (The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) and BAPRAS (The British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons) are the two leading societies for plastic surgeons in the UK. Surgeons belonging to these societies receive regular training which keeps their surgical and patient communication skills up to date.
It's strongly advised that you check if your surgeon is a member of either BAAPS or BAPRAS before booking a procedure.
The Breast Reduction Consultation
What to Expect During a Breast Reduction Surgery Consultation?
The free surgeon consultation will last anywhere between 15 minutes to 1 hour and will take place either at their private practice or within a consultation space.
Your surgeon will discuss a number of topics with you during the consultation. These include:
- Why you wish to have surgery
- Your desires and expectations for surgery
- The potential risks & complications related to surgery
- Any personal or family history of breast cancer
- Current and past medical conditions, including any allergies you have
- The results of any biopsies and mammograms you may have had
- Any prescription or over-the-counter medications you may be taking
- Any current alcohol, tobacco and recreational drug use
When recommending a procedure plan, your surgeon will take into consideration the following factors:
- Your current breast shape and size
- Your ideal breast size and shape
- The quality of your breast tissue and skin
- The quantity of your breast tissue and skin
Breast Reduction Candidates
Anyone unhappy with the large size of their breasts may benefit from a reduction mammoplasty. Although some patients choose to have this procedure done for cosmetic reasons, many choose to have it done to mitigate the unpleasant physical symptoms they experience because of heavy breasts.
Physical complaints caused by large breasts include:
- Neck, back or shoulder pain
- Problems finding clothes that fit well
- Bra straps causing indentations on the shoulders
- Mobility issues including discomfort during exercise
- Irritated skin where the breast touches the torso
A breast reduction can also be done for cosmetic reasons. For these patients, a breast reduction can address complaints such as:
- Breasts with unequal size or shape
- Unwanted attention is given because of large breasts
- A desire to change the look of the breasts
Ideal candidates are physically and emotionally healthy before surgery. Pregnant or nursing people should not have breast reduction surgery. If you have recently given birth, you should wait for up 3 to 6 months before having breast surgery and ensure you are done breastfeeding. The reduction mammoplasty surgery can impact or impede your ability to breastfeed, so it is an important factor to consider before booking your procedure.
Optimising general health can increase suitability for breast reduction surgery. You can achieve this by doing regular exercise, reducing alcohol intake, eating a healthy diet, and stopping smoking or any nicotine use.
Find out more about Breast Reduction Candidates
What can a Breast Reduction Achieve?
Breast reduction surgery aims to:
- Reduce the size of the breasts
- Remove any excess skin
- Adjust the position of the nipple and areola
- Potentially reduce the size of the nipple and/or areola
In many cases, breast reduction also includes breast uplift (mastopexy). Combining these two procedures can create a better aesthetic result. Whether or not your surgeon suggests including breast uplift to your treatment depends on how much smaller you want your breasts to be. Generally, smaller reduction amounts do not require a breast uplift.
Keep in mind your surgeon will be able to tell you during your free consultation the specific details of what a breast reduction can achieve for you.
Breast Reduction Surgery Realistic Expectations
How is Breast Reduction Surgery Performed?
Breast reduction surgery generally lasts 1.5 to 3 hours depending on some factors including how much tissue will be removed. It is always performed when the patient is under general anaesthetic, meaning they are given medicine that forces them into a dreamless sleep.
The type of incision your surgeon uses is separate to the technique they will use to remove the excess tissue. This means there are many different procedures your surgeon can choose from in order to get you results catered to your body and results you want.
Types of Incisions for Breast Reduction Surgery
Reduction mammoplasty surgery requires your surgeon to make incisions on each breast to remove breast tissue and skin. These incisions are where scars will be after you recover from surgery.
While scaring can be a barrier to having surgery, keep in mind that many breast reduction patients report their surgical scars healed extremely well and are difficult to see after recovery (6 months to 1+ year after the operation). You can see some of the healed results of patients here.
The type of incision your surgeon will use during the surgery depends on how much skin and tissue will be removed. The more that is removed, the larger the incision must be.
There are three types of incisions used for breast reduction:
- Circumareolar also called a doughnut incision that goes around the areola
- Suitable for small reductions
- Vertical also called a lollipop incision that goes around the areola and down to the crease of the breast
- Suitable for small to moderate reductions
- Inverted-T also called an anchor incision that goes around the areola, down to the crease of the breast, and then continues across the crease of the breast
- Suitable for large reductions
Types of Breast Tissue Removal Techniques
A pedicle is a surgical technique that keeps the nipple and areola attached to an amount of breast tissue that remains untouched during surgery.
This method ensures the nipple and remaining breast tissue have a constant connection to a blood supply and nerves while the excess breast tissue is removed.
There are two types of pedicles used during reduction mammoplasty surgery:
- Inferior pedicle at the lower part of the breast
- Tissue removed comes from the upper part of the breast
- Very popular technique especially when combined with an anchor incision
- Suitable for very large reductions
- Superior pedicle at the top part of the breast
- The tissue is removed from the lower part and sides of the breast
- Mostly used in combination with lollipop incisions
Keeping the nipple and breast tissue attached to the blood supply is associated with better preservation of nipple sensation, less likelihood of complications, and a higher chance of successful breastfeeding after recovery compared to free nipple grafting.
Free Nipple Graft
The free nipple graft is now a very uncommon technique. A free nipple graft requires the nipple and areola to be completely detached from the breast. They are reattached after breast tissue has been removed. Plastic surgeons do not commonly use this method as there is poor preservation of nipple sensation and the ability to breastfeed is completely stopped. After the excess breast tissue is removed, the incisions are closed and the surgery is over.
Breast Reduction Surgery Risks & Complications
As with any surgery, there are risks and complications associated with breast reduction surgery. It is essential that you are aware of all these risks before you commit to having surgery.
The risks and complications associated with breast reduction include:
- Excessive or keloid scarring
- Bruising & bleeding
- Numbness or altered breast sensation
- Blood clots
- Altered shape or bottoming out where the lower portion of the breast droops and causes the nipples to look as if they are placed very high on the breast
- Tissue necrosis
- Loss of the nipple and areola
- Aesthetic issues or unhappiness with results
Find our more about Complications
Preparing for Breast Reduction Surgery
How to Prepare for a Breast Reduction?
It is important for you to prepare before you have your breast reduction. Preparing well for your breast reduction can also help you through your recovery period. Below are some breast reduction preparation tips that may be helpful for you:
You will not be able to drive straight after your surgery. It is therefore important for you to arrange for a family member or friend to help you get home safely after your operation. We also recommend that they stay with you for the first 24 hours after surgery, as you will still be recovering from the anaesthetic.
It may be really useful to get some household chores done before you go in for your operation. Taking the bins out, cleaning and doing a big grocery shop before your breast reduction will give you more of a chance to rest after your operation. It may also be helpful to cook some meals and freeze them so that you do not have to worry about cooking either.
Try to place hard to reach cupboard items such as mugs, crockery and dry food on the kitchen counter. This will prevent you from having to stretch to reach them, which can help your recovery as stretching can place strain on your incisions.
Children & Pets
A breast reduction is quite an invasive procedure. It is therefore important that you rest well and do not exert yourself. You should therefore ask your family and friends to help look after young children and pets whilst you are recovering.
Sleeping on your back, in an inclined position for the first few days after your surgery can help reduce swelling and bruising. You can do this by having lots of extra pillows on your bed.
Clothing & Post-Operative Garment
It may be more comfortable for you to wear clothes that fasten easily from the front in the initial postoperative days. This prevents you from reaching up to pull clothes over your head, which places strain on your stitches. Straining your stitches can increase the time it takes your wounds to heal.
You may also have to wear a post-operative garment after your breast reduction. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on which garment to wear, how tight to wear it, and how long you must keep it on for.
Maintaining a healthy diet will help you through your recovery. This includes eating food that is low in salt and sugar, having as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible, and drinking lots of water and caffeine-free drinks.
Smoking & Alcohol
Smoking, taking recreational drugs and drinking large amounts of alcohol can all have a negative effect on your recovery. It is essential that you stop smoking and using all nicotine products at least 6 weeks before and after your breast reduction. Smoking lengthens your recovery by delaying the time it takes for your wounds to heal. It also greatly increases the risk of infection.
It is very important to notify your surgeon of all the prescription and over-the-counter medications that you take. Certain prescription and homoeopathic medications can increase the risk of complications occurring. Your surgeon will discuss your medications and recommend the best course of action to take. Certain homoeopathic medications can increase the risk of bleeding and bruising after surgery, it is recommended you stop taking them at least 2 weeks before your operation. These medications can include:
- St John’s Wort
- Multivitamin preparations
- Medications containing: ginger, ginkgo, garlic and cod liver oil.
Your surgeon will give you specific advice for your breast reduction preparation.
Breast Reduction Surgery Aftercare
Breast Reduction Aftercare: What to Expect After a Breast Reduction?
Your surgeon will give you advice for your breast reduction aftercare and recovery. They will discuss the following topics:
After your breast reduction, you will most likely need to spend one or two nights in the hospital. Before you leave, however, a post-operative appointment will be arranged for you. This appointment will allow your surgeon to examine your breasts, remove any stitches that are not dissolvable and treat any complications.
Time Off Work
In general, if patients have an office job, they will need to take approximately 1 to 2 weeks off work after your breast reduction. If you have a job that requires more physical activity, you will need to take at least 2 weeks off. You surgeon will give you specific instructions on when you can return to work.
Return to Sports & Exercise
After you have your breast reduction, you will need to rest well and not exert yourself. You will need to start slowly when you begin exercising again. The general advice is as follows:
- Week 1 – 3
Avoid all sports and exercises for the first three weeks after your breast reduction. Even minor aerobic sports may increase swelling and bruising.
- Week 3 – 6
Three weeks after your breast reduction, you should be able to resume light aerobic exercises such as cycling. You should however be careful not to exert yourself too hard.
- After Week 6
After 6 weeks have passed, you should be able to resume all sports, exercises and heavy lifting again.
Each surgeon will have different advice about when it is appropriate for you to resume sports and exercise after your breast reduction. It is therefore very important to follow the advice that your surgeon has personally given you.
As you will not be able to drive immediately after your breast reduction, you must arrange for a friend or family member to take you home. It may take 5 days to 2 weeks before you are able to start driving again, depending on your surgeon’s advice.
Although scarring is inevitable after a breast reduction, there are a number of techniques that can help aid the healing of scars. These include:
- Scar massage – gently massaging your scar after it has healed may help the skin to heal.
- Silicone gel, cream or sheets – silicone-based products have been clinically proven to help reduce the appearance of scars. It is important that you use these products only after your incision has healed.
- Avoid sun exposure & sunbeds – you can help protect your scars by protecting them from sunlight and sunbeds. This not only protects the healing skin, but it also avoids darkening the scars.
Patients will be able to see an immediate change to your breasts straight after your operation but it may take 6 to 12 months before you can appreciate the full cosmetic appearance. It is therefore important to be patient.
Your surgeon will give you specific advice regarding your breast reduction aftercare. It is vital to follow the instructions your surgeon gives you as this is specific to your recovery.
Find our more about Aftercare
Find our more about Breast Reduction Recovery Timeline
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Breast Reduction FAQs
Make sure you research your breast reduction procedure well before you go in for your surgery. The following breast reduction FAQs may help answer some common questions:
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