What is Breast reduction/Breast Lift?

It is a surgical procedure done under general anaesthesia to reduce the breast size and also lift the breast. The excess breast tissue is mostly removed from the inferior half of the breast and the remaining breast tissue is stitched together which lifts breast as well as improves its projection. If only breast lift is desired then only excess breast skin is removed and tightened with minimum or no reduction in breast size. Both these procedures result in one vertical scar extending from the nipple to the breast fold and another scar around the nipple which is hardly visible.

This is the lollipop scar. In very loose breast an additional horizontal scar along the breast fold (anchor scar) may be required.

Do I need breast reduction/lift?

Increase in breast size can occur post pregnancy, following weight gain or it may be large in size from puberty. Large breast size can cause shoulder, neck or back ache and can cause the bra strap to dig in the shoulder. It can prevent you from doing exercise besides making you socially uncomfortable. In this situation Breast reduction surgery can be contemplated. Heavy breast often sag. Fortunately breast reduction surgery besides reducing the size of breast also lifts the breast.

What anaesthesia is required for breast reduction/lift?

You are put to sleep (general anaesthesia) for breast reduction/lift procedures.

What to expect after surgery?

  1. There will be dressing on the incision line.
  2. Sleeping position: you can lie on your sides or your back. avoid sleeping on your tummy for few weeks.
  3. Pain: Pain control gets better with each passing day. Turning in bed may be sore for the first few days. Any pressure on the treated area may also be sore for sometime. In addition you will get stretching or pulling sensation in the breast especially when you will try to turn in bed or when you stand up. This is because the skin has been pulled tight. This will get easier every day.
  4. Medication: Antibiotics and painkillers are given for a week following surgery.
  5. Sensation: the nipple area might feel numb.This happens because tiny nerves going to the nipple are stretched and sometimes divided and they take time to regenerate. This regeneration of the nerves may give you tingling sensation for few weeks. The area of numbness will gradually reduce and complete recovery of sensation can take from few months.
  6. Swelling: swelling of treated areas happens because of trauma of surgery. This can take few weeks to go away.
  7. Bruising: is seen as bluish patches on the operated areas. It can take few weeks to go away.
  8. Brassiere: you can wear sports bra or snug fitting wired bra for a month for extra support.
  9. Hospital stay: usually for 2 nights and once you are able to walk independently and go to the washroom on your own, you will be discharged from the hospital.
  10. Return to work: you can return to light household chores within a week. Return to light work possible in few weeks and work which are more physically demanding it may take few weeks. Flying abroad is possible within few weeks following surgery.
  11. Stitches: Most of the stitches are dissolving ones so no need to remove them. Maybe few stitches will require removal on 10th day.
  12. Dressing: Dressing is required till healing is complete which usually happens within a months time. For the first 2 dressings will be done by me. Thereafter you will be allowed to have shower. We will teach you how to put a simple dressing after the shower.
  13. Scars: There is one scar around the areola which in majority of cases is not visible. There is another vertical scar extending from the nipple to the breast fold.The scar will appear crinkled initially (especially the lower end of the vertical scar) and smoothes and evens out after a period of few weeks. initially scar may appear red and prominent and it usually takes few months for scar to become soft and light.
  14. Weight Loss: weight loss is equal to the amount of breast tissue removed and usually varies from few hundred grams to 2 kilograms depending on the original size of the breast.
  15. Inch Loss: usually 2 to 4 inches if you measure the chest circumference at the nipple level. Bra size reduces generally by 2 cup sizes. However it can be less or more depending on the original size of the breast. Initially for the first few weeks the reduction in size may be not fully obvious due to swelling.
  16. Breast Feeding: some of the patients may not be able to breastfeed after breast reduction or breast lift surgery.

Dos and Don'ts:

  1. Activity: You can resume light activity like walking and doing household chores immediately following discharge from the hospital. you can increase the level of activity with each passing day and as per your comfort level. It is normal to feel tired after any long surgery under general anaesthesia and this can take few weeks to go away. heavy exercise, gym, swimming can be started few weeks with gradual stepping up.
  2. Diet: As it takes approximately a month to get back to your normal exercise routine one should reduce diet intake by about 20% till then. This is to balance the intake and output. For one month salt intake should be less as salt increases swelling.
  3. Shower: You are allowed to have shower few days after surgery depending on your recovery. Till then you have to sponge yourself. after shower you have to change the band-aid dressing and apply fresh ones.
  4. Steam and sauna: Should be avoided for few months. This is because the sensation in treated areas can take upto few months to recover and you might burn yourself without realising it.
  5. Sunscreen: Religiously use sunscreen on treated areas if they are getting exposed to sunlight. this has to be continued for 1 year.
  6. Smoking: Smoking few weeks before and after surgery can increase the risk of complications.
  7. Medication: Please inform if you have to take any additional medicine other than prescribed by the surgeon.
  8. Long haul flight: If you are travelling overseas you need to take certain precautions during the flight. Drink plenty of water. Every 2 hours or so walk in the aisle for 5 minutes. Even while sitting keep your heel on the floor and point your toes as high up as possible. Then keep the toes on the floor and raise your heel as high as possible. Repeat 10 times every ½ hour. If possible wear the stockings which were given to you during your hospital stay. All this is done to prevent clot formation in the leg veins.

Treatment Alternative:

  1. Diet and exercise: breast tissue is mostly made of glandular tissue and a small amount of fat tissue. So following weight loss you may experience a mild reduction in breast size. However, the breast will also sag with weight loss.
  2. Liposuction: as there is only a small amount of fat present in the breast so liposuction will not reduce breast size significantly. Also, the breast will sag after liposuction.
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Dr. Sandip Jain