What Are The Consequences?
Apart from the change of shape and reduction in size, the most obvious consequences are the scars. These are designed to be invisible whilst wearing normal clothing and as far as possible are designed to lie under the average bra or bikini top. Over the months following surgery the scars will fade from being red, possibly thick, and uncomfortable, to becoming much more pale and less obvious. However, they will always be present and visible when clothing is not worn and the scars will vary from one woman to another. In some they may be very thin, in others they may stretch and become quite red and possibly ugly. In the vast majority of women, however, the scars are acceptable and a small trade-off for the benefits of dealing with the problems of large breasts. Very few women are able to breast feed after breast reduction surgery as the nipples are separated from the underlying milk ducts and at the time of pregnancy the milk supply will gradually dry up, sometimes with the assistance of hormone treatment. Breast reduction is no contra indication to pregnancy but young women may well wish to take the fact that they are unable to breast feed into account before embarking on the procedure. The nipples are likely to be much less sensitive following surgery due to the nature of the cuts and the nerve supply and it is quite possible that numbness will extend over part of the breast as well.
What Are The Limitations?
It is very important that you discuss thoroughly with your surgeon beforehand the size of breasts you wish to achieve. Many women wish for a very radical reduction but in order to achieve this the shape and aesthetic quality of the breasts may be compromised. It is also possible that there may be a degree of asymmetry. This is often less than existed before surgery. In women with very large breasts the benefits of a significant reduction may outweigh the potential imperfections of poor shape and loss of nipple function and sensitivity. However, in women with breasts which are only slightly larger than normal very careful thought must be given to the scarring and the potential shape and size as the outcome of the surgery may not be as aesthetically pleasing as a normal breast appearance.
What Are The Risks?
Any major operation with a general anaesthetic carries a small risk of chest infection particularly among people who smoke and there is also a risk of thrombosis in the veins of the leg, particularly for patients who are taking the contraceptive pill.
Occasionally, heavy bleeding can occur after the operation is finished which may need a further operation and a blood transfusion. Occasionally, infection from germs harbouring in the ducts of the breast can be troublesome. Infection can be treated with antibiotics bit it will delay the healing process, scars are likely to be worse to start with and there may be a need to re-stitch them at a later date. If you have a discharge from your nipple it is most important to tell your surgeon about it before your operation.
Occasionally, skin can become sloughy and for a scab which gradually separates to leave a broad scar. The nipple disc and the skin where the scar meets underneath the breast are parts most likely to be affected. People who smoke are at greater risk of this happening. Usually the scars settle well to end up as white lines but they will always be noticeable. However, some people have an inborn tendency for scars to stretch and sometimes they can stay thick, red and irritable for a long time.
When reducing large breasts it may occasionally be necessary to adjust the folds of skin at the end of the scar, both between the breasts and at the sides. This can simply be carried out under local anaesthetic several months later.
There is no evidence to suggest that Breast Reduction causes breast cancer. Nor does it prevent your breast from being examined for cancer in the usual way.