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Breast reduction- Female

Published on: 16 Oct 2019, 10:52 a.m.

Mr Debashis Ghosh

NHS Consultant
GMC Number: 4657664

Medically reviewed by a licensed NHS consultant
Last updated: 15/08/2019

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Table of Contents

What is Breast reduction surgery?
Why is breast reduction performed?
What can a breast reduction achieve?
What preparations do I need before breast reduction Surgery?
Breast reduction Procedure
Breast reduction side effects
Breast reduction before and after
Breast reduction Recovery : Week by Week
Breast reduction results
Breast reduction costs in the UK
Finding a breast reductionSurgeon
FAQS on breast reduction

What is Breast reduction surgery?

Breast reduction surgery also known as a reduction mammaplasty, is a major surgical procedure which reduces your breast size, weight and augments its shape. The procedure involves removing excess fat, tissue and skin from the breasts. 

Breast reduction surgery is used for both cosmetic and medical desires, with large breasts causing a variety of health and emotional problems. In 2018 over 4,409 surgeries were performed on the NHS.

Furthermore, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons’ stated that breast reduction was the second most popular procedure for women, rising over 7% since 2017.

Why is breast reduction performed?

Approximately 1 million women worldwide are affected by large breasts. Breast reduction surgery is performed to help patients overcome these issues.

Large breasts can cause unwanted physical pain for women including:

A breast reduction can also be performed for cosmetic reasons. These patients often suffer with problems such as:

Breast reduction surgery isn't recommended if you:

During pregnancy your breasts undergo changes in shape, sizes and weight and breast reduction surgery can impact your ability to breast feed.  If you are breastfeeding or pregnant you should wait at least 3-6 months after childbirth before having a breast reduction. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned. 

If you're thinking about having a breast reduction, it is vital to understand the advantages and disadvantages of cosmetic surgery and be realistic about the results. 

If you agree with the above, then generally you are a good candidate for a breast reduction. Consult your doctor to discuss more!

What can a breast reduction achieve?

Breast reduction benefits:

A breast reduction procedure is often combined with other surgeries. Patients can be given a breast uplift and/or nipple reduction to improve the cosmetic results. Patients can also combine a breast reduction with liposuction. 

Depending on your desired results your doctors may recommend a combined procedure. 

What preparations do I need before breast reduction Surgery?

Breast reduction Procedure


Before your operation, you will have a consultation with your surgeon. Here you will discuss your desired results and decide which technique and methods to use during surgery.  

Your doctor will usually discuss: 

You may also be asked to:

Before your surgery you will be required to sign a consent form. 

women measuring breasts

PhotoCredit: ShutterStock/Kaspars Grinvalds

During the procedure

1. Anaesthesia

Breast reduction surgery is administered in a hospital or outpatient/day surgery facility.
The surgery is usually performed under general anaesthesia, to send patients to sleep during the entire operation. Although local anaesthesia can also be administered. Your surgeon will recommend the best option for you. 
On the day of your surgery, the surgeon will administer your chosen anaesthetic. Before taking you into the operating theatre for the procedure.

2. Skin incision

Once the patient is asleep, incisions are made on each breast. Different types of incisions are used depending on the amount of excess skin. Speak to your doctor to decide which technique is right for you.

Below is a list of incisions your surgeon may use during your breast reduction surgery:

Donut (Circumareolar): Crescent Incision 

Lollipop (Vertical) Crescent Incision 

Anchor (Inverted-T) Crescent-Incision

An inverted T breast reduction is the most common technique, involving three incisions:

An inverted T breast reduction allows for the greatest amount of tissue to be removed and/or reshaping. 

Liposuction for Breast Reduction

In rare cases, liposuction can be used to reduce the breasts size.

Liposuction can offer a less invasive procedure. However, liposuction is only administered to patients who desire a small amount of tissue removal, have little-to-no sagging and whose excess skin is largely due to fatty tissue.

3. Breast tissue removal

Excess fat, tissue and skin is then removed from your breasts.

Reducing the size of your breasts to your desired cup.

There are different techniques commonly used in breast reduction surgery, with different techniques affecting your nipple sensation and ability to breastfeed differently.

Tissue removal techniques include:

Technique 1 Pedicles

This technique helps preserve the breasts’ blood supply, nerves and milk ducts, through keeping the nipple and areola attached to a pedicle.  This technique prevents patients from losing nipple sensation and/or having complications breastfeeding.

The two most popular pedicle techniques are the inferior and the superior as described below.

Inferior Pedicle Crescent-Incision

Superior pedicle Crescent-Incision

Technique 2: Free nipple graft

4. Closing the incisions

Once the excess tissue is removed, the incisions are closed up with stitches and/or sutures. Surgeon may also place drains in your breasts to remove any excess fluid (reducing swelling). 

Finally, once the drains and stitches are in place. Your chest will be bandaged, and the surgery is finished.

5. Return to the ward

Once the operation is complete, you will be returned to the ward to recover. As this is an invasive surgery, patients are often kept in hospital for one to two nights.

After the procedure

After surgery, doctors will administer pain medication and antibiotics to reduce discomfort and infection. 

As you will not be able to drive immediately after your breast reduction, make sure you arrange for someone to pick you up. 

Breast reduction side effects

As with any invasive surgery, there are risks. These include: 

You doctor will discuss these risks in your consultation, along with how they would be treated if any occur. 

Breast reduction before and after

breast reduction before and after

PhotoCredit: ShutterStock/ Africa Studio 

before and after breast reduction
PhotoCredit: ShutterStock/ Africa Studio 

Breast reduction Recovery : Week by Week

1 week after surgery 

In the first week, it is common to feel weak with some pain and discomfort. Your breasts will most likely be swollen and bruised.

You may also feel a sensation of pulling and/or stretching in the breast area. Pain medication can be prescribed by your surgeon to reduce any discomfort. 

2 weeks after Surgery

Long-Term Recovery Considerations

Each patient has a different recovery experience. Some patients may suffer hypersensitivity and/or numbness of the breast for up to a year following surgery. Although many patients suffer none of these sensations with only minimal discomfort. 


Although, scarring after a breast reduction is inevitable, there are ways to minimise the appearance. For example:

Most scars will fade, 6 weeks post-surgery and should not be visible in bras or bikinis. 

Breast reduction results

You will be able to see an immediate change in your breasts. 

However, swelling, bruising and surgical scars can take months to heal. Additionally, the breasts often heal at a different rate.

So, don’t panic if you notice any asymmetry during the first few months of recovery. 

On average it will take 2-3 months to see your final results. Although it is common to notice slight changes in the first 6 to 12 months.  

Breast reduction results can take time, so remember to be patient!

Your finished appearance will generally remain permanent — although breast shape and size can be affected by factors such as pregnancy, aging and weight changes. 

Breast reduction costs in the UK

The NHS performs the majority of breast reduction surgeries for free. Although if you do not qualify under the NHS, the cost of a breast reduction surgery in the UK can cost around £6,500. 

Although the cost of a breast reduction surgery will vary. Depending on how much excess breast tissue you wish to be removed and/or if you are receiving additional treatment (liposuction). During your consultation your doctor will be able to tell you the price, or you can read our blog post to find out more about finance options for cosmetic surgery. 

Finding a breast reduction Surgeon

Getting a well-trained surgeon will ensure you get the results you desire for your reduction mammaplasty. Your surgeon should have years of experience and up to date training in breast reductions. 

Ensure your surgeon is registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the General Medical Council (GMC). 

Any doctor carrying out a breast reduction should be listed on these registers and have a licence to practise.

Additionally, check they are a full member in either the British Association of Plastic Reconstruction and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) or the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS).

Always book an appointment to meet the surgeon before the procedure.

Ask your surgeon:

breast reduction consultation

PhotoCredit: ShutterStock/ Andrei_R

Trust your gut feeling and make sure you are comfortable with your surgeon.

Find out more about how to choose a Plastic Surgeon right for you.

FAQS on breast reduction

1. Does breast reduction surgery affect breastfeeding? If so, why?

Yes, a breast reduction can affect breast feeding. As during a breast reduction surgery, parts of the breast tissue is removed.
This can disrupt breast feeding as breast tissues contain ducts and glands that produce breast milk.

2. How many cup sizes can you go down with breast reduction?

Patients usually go down around one to two cup sizes. 

3. When can I wear a normal bra after breast reduction?

It is recommended to wait until the area is completely healed with no swelling or bruising. This can often take 3-6 months. 

4. When can I fly following a breast reduction?

It is recommended to wait at least 4 weeks before flying. If you cannot wait 4 weeks, wear thromboembolic stockings and drink plenty of fluids to reduce the risks.

5. What causes enlarged breasts?

Enlarged breast are largely unexplained. Some explanations involve genetics and hypersensitive sex and growth hormones.
Furthermore, puberty or pregnancy has been found to trigger enlarged breasts. Certain medications can also play role. 

6. How old do you have to be to get a breast reduction? 

A breast reduction procedure can be carried out at any age. However, it is advised to wait until your breasts are fully developed as otherwise you may require a second surgery later in life.