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Breast Reduction/Lift

Breast Reduction / Lift

Answers to Your Questions About Breast Reduction Surgery

If you are considering breast reduction surgery or a breast lift, there may be some questions you would like answered. Essentially, a breast lift, or mastopexy, is a surgical procedure to raise and reshape sagging breasts. The result is not permanent as no surgery can permanently delay the effects of gravity. Breast reduction surgery is similar in many ways to a breast lift except as well as lifting the breasts, their volume is reduced.

Breast reduction surgery

Breast reduction surgery is indicated in the following circumstances:

It may be that you suffer from many of the typical symptoms of having heavy breasts such as upper back pain, neck pain, postural difficulties, bra strap pain, skin sores underneath the breasts. Or it may be that you simply feel that your breasts are out of proportion with your body and that you find it difficult to find clothing that fits. In any of theses cases, breast reduction surgery could be right for you. It is essential that you discuss with your surgeon your symptoms, current size and expectations in terms of your post operative size and appearance.

It is important to understand that it is difficult to guarantee and be precise about cup size - cup size is not a precise measurement. Your surgeon will try to reduce your breasts to a size proportionate to your body and frame such that it can be carried out safely and with minimal risk.

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What takes place during breast reduction surgery?

The most common technique for breast reduction surgery involves either an anchor-shaped incision following the natural contour of the breast, or a 'vertical scar' technique. Which method is used depends on the shape and size of the breast.

The incision outlines the area from which breast skin will be removed and defines the new location for the nipple. When the excess skin has been removed, the nipple and areola are moved to the higher position and the skin is tightened along the planned incisions, reshaping and lifting the breast to the desired new position.

What scarring is involved with breast reduction surgery?

The scarring patterns are the same as those for breast lifting depending on the size and shape of the breasts.

Larger breasts require more extensive scarring with an inverted T pattern; smaller breasts can be reduced with a more limited vertical scar (lollipop or short scar technique).

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What about my recovery after breast reduction surgery?

Breast reduction surgery is carried out under a general anaesthetic and usually involves an overnight stay in hospital.

You will leave the hospital with dressings on which will be left intact for 5-7 days, before they are changed.  You will need to take things gently for a further 1 to 2 weeks whilst your wounds are healing.

You will gradually build up to normal levels of activity as you feel comfortable.

By six weeks after your breast reduction surgery you should be fully recovered and able to return to full activity including gym, swimming and sport.

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Am I a good candidate for breast reduction surgery?

You are a good candidate for breast reduction surgery if you suffer from the symptoms of having heavy breasts:

Neck pain, bra strap pain, shoulder discomfort, poor posture, skin infections in the crease of the breast or you simply feel they are too big for your frame.

You should also be in good health generally, being overweight and smoking are two significant risk factors. You may be asked to lose weight or stop smoking prior to your surgery in order to minimise the risk of complications.

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Are there any complications with breast reduction?

Breast reduction surgery is a commonly performed operation which in the vast majority of cases is complication free and highly beneficial.

However, you need to be aware of some potential risks.

Bleeding is uncommon and rarely necessitates a trip back to theatre. If bleeding is excessive in the early post operative period a small procedure to evacuate any blood clot may need to be carried out. Drains are placed to minimise collection of excess fluid/blood.

Infection rarely occurs and may require a course of antibiotics.

Occasionally wound healing may be a little delayed especially after very large reductions requiring dressings until healing is complete.

Although extremely rare, the blood supply to the nipple is theoretically at risk and may result in poor healing of the nipple.

Nipple sensation may also be altered either temporarily or, more unusuall,y permanently.

Younger women need to be aware that it is possible that breast feeding may not be possible after breast reduction surgery.

It is important to remember that breasts are rarely of exactly the same size to start with and that after surgery they may not be identical in shape and size - minor asymmetries are normal.

Be sure to discuss the pros and cons of breast reduction surgery with your surgeon before making the decision to go ahead.

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A breast lift

A breast lift is indicated in the following circumstances:

  • To raise and reshape sagging breasts due to pregnancy or nursing
  • To reduce the size of the areola, the darker skin surrounding the nipple
  • If your breasts are small or have lost volume, breast implants inserted in conjunction with mastopexy can increase both their firmness and their size.

The following frequently asked questions and answers (FAQs) will give you a basic understanding of the procedure - when it can help, how it is performed, and what results you can expect. These may not answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances.

Your surgeon will be able to help you with any further concerns you have about how the procedure will affect you personally.

What should I consider before having a breast lift?

A breast lift - or mastopexy - can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won't necessarily change your looks to match your ideal, or cause other people to treat you differently. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.

The best candidates for a breast lift are women who are looking for improvement, not perfection, in the way they look. If you're physically healthy and realistic in your expectations, you may be a good candidate. The best results are usually achieved in women with small, sagging breasts. Breasts of any size can be lifted, but the results may not last as long in heavy breasts.

How do I plan my breast lift?

During your first consultation at LPSA you can discuss your expectations frankly with your surgeon, who will listen to your concerns and give you his opinion.
He should be equally frank with you, describing your alternatives and the risks and limitations of each. Be sure to tell your surgeon if you have a family history of breast disease, if you smoke, and if you're taking any medications, vitamins, or other drugs.

Your surgeon will also provide explanations about general anaesthesia, the hospital where the surgery will be performed, and your aftercare. As most insurance companies do not consider breast lifts to be medically necessary, they don't generally cover the cost of this procedure. The practice manager will gladly provide information about cost at the time of your visit.

Do not hesitate to ask your doctor any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.

How do I prepare for surgery?

Your surgeon will give you instructions to help you prepare for surgery. These may include guidelines on eating and drinking,not  smoking, and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications.

While making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery and to help you out for a few days, if needed.

Where will my breast lift be performed?

The surgery is performed at one of several of London's best private hospitals, according to your preference and the availability of operating time.

You will usually be admitted on the day of surgery, and stay overnight. You will need a friend or relative to accompany you home after your stay in the hospital.

What type of anaesthetic will be used?

Breast lifts at LPSA are usually performed under a general anaesthetic, so you'll sleep through the entire operation.

What takes place during the surgery?

Mastopexy techniques vary, but the most common procedure involves either an anchor-shaped incision following the natural contour of the breast, or a 'vertical scar' technique. Which method is used depends on the shape and size of the breast.

The incision outlines the area from which breast skin will be removed and defines the new location for the nipple. When the excess skin has been removed, the nipple and areola are moved to the higher position and the skin is tightened along the planned incisions, reshaping and lifting the breast to the desired new position.

Some patients, especially those with relatively small breasts and minimal sagging, may be candidates for modified procedures requiring less extensive incisions. One such procedure is the 'doughnut mastopexy' (i.e. concentric), in which circular incisions are made around the areola, and a doughnut-shaped area of skin is removed.

If you're having an implant inserted along with your breast lift, it will be placed in a pocket directly under the breast tissue, or deeper, under the muscle of the chest wall.

How long will the surgery take?

The length of time in surgery varies for mastopexy from around one and a half to three and a half hours.

What can I expect after my surgery?

Prior to embarking upon surgery it is important that you discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the operation. Breast lift surgery is generally very safe and effective. Make sure you discuss expectations, recovery and potential complications before making your decision.

After surgery, you'll wear an elastic bandage or a surgical bra over gauze dressings. Your breasts will be bruised, swollen, and uncomfortable for a day or two, but the pain shouldn't be severe. Any discomfort you feel will be relieved by medication prescribed by your doctor.

Within a few days, your bandages or surgical bra will be replaced by a soft support bra. You'll need to wear this bra for a variable length of time. Your stitches will be removed after a week or two. If your breast skin is very dry following surgery, you can apply a moisturiser several times a day. Be careful not to tug at your skin in the process, and keep the moisturiser away from the suture areas.

You can expect some loss of feeling in your nipples and breast skin, caused by the swelling after surgery. This numbness usually fades as the swelling subsides over the next six weeks or so. In some patients, however, it may last a year or more, and occasionally this may be permanent.

How long will it take for life to return to normal?

Depending on the level of activity required for your job, you should be able to return to work within a few days.

It is best to follow your surgeon's advice on when to begin exercises and normal activities. Your breasts will probably be sensitive to direct stimulation for two to three weeks, so you should avoid much physical contact. After that, breast contact is fine once your breasts are no longer sore, usually three to four weeks after surgery.

Your scars will be firm and pink for at least six weeks. Then they may remain the same size for several months, or even appear to widen. After several months, your scars will begin to fade, although they will never disappear completely. If you become pregnant, the operation should not affect your ability to breast-feed, since your milk ducts and nipples will be left intact. However, pregnancy may adversely affect the shape of your breasts or the effectiveness of the lift because of the natural changes that occur in breast size and shape.

How will I feel about my new look?

Your satisfaction with a breast lift is likely to be greater if you understand the procedure thoroughly and if your expectations are realistic.

Your surgeon will make every effort to make your scars as inconspicuous as possible but it is important to remember that mastopexy scars are extensive and permanent. They often remain lumpy and red for months, gradually becoming less obvious and usually eventually fading to thin white lines.

You should also keep in mind that a breast lift won't keep you firm forever - the effects of gravity, pregnancy, ageing and weight fluctuations will eventually take their toll again. Women who have implants along with their breast lift may find the results last longer (see 'Breast Augmentation' for more information about implants).

Does a breast lift carry any risk?

Although a breast lift is not a simple operation, it is normally safe when performed by a qualified plastic surgeon, such as those at LPSA. Nevertheless, as with any surgery, there is always a possibility of complications or a reaction to the anaesthetic. Bleeding and infection following a breast lift are uncommon, but these may cause scars to widen. You can reduce your risks by closely following your doctor's advice both before and after surgery.

Although mastopexy does leave noticeable, permanent scars, they'll most likely be covered by your bra or bathing suit. There is also a possibility that the procedure can leave you with unevenly positioned nipples, or a permanent loss of feeling in your nipples or breasts.

Would you like more information?

If you would like further information or to speak directly to the surgeon’s office please use the Contact Us page or the telephone numbers given below.

Call us on +44 (0)20 7432 8278
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