Breast reduction

Breast reduction is surgical reshaping and removal of breast tissue to improve the appearance of your breasts and reduce their size.

Breast reduction

Breasts that are too large can be an extremely frustrating problem. Breast reduction surgery may be able to help you if you have enlarged breasts and are:

  • unhappy with the appearance of your large breasts
  • having difficulty finding well-fitting clothes and bras
  • suffering back, shoulder and neck pain
  • having difficulty exercising
  • experiencing rashes or thrush under the breasts

What to expect during your consultation

Your surgeon will listen to your concerns regarding your breast size and shape, and ask what your goals are. Most women see a plastic surgeon for breast reduction surgery after suffering many years and after considering the surgery for a long time. While breast reduction surgery is a safe and commonly performed operation, the consultation will be performed with sensitivity to your opinions and thoughtfulness to your concerns. Any additional health problems that might affect your treatment will be identified.

Following this, your breasts will be examined, with clinical measurements and photographs taken. It is important to decide with your surgeon the type of breast reduction operation that would most suit your body shape, breast size and skin type.

We will then discuss the best course of action to address your concerns. Written information will be provided to you, so that you can consider your options. A breast lift is a major operation, so a second consultation to discuss the advice you are given is recommended.

Women having breast surgery should bring their most recent mammogram or ultrasound with them to the consultation.

Who should not have breast reduction surgery?

Breast reduction surgery deals with a long-existing problem, and should therefore be done when you are best motivated and physically fit for the procedure. The cosmetic result and your health for an anaesthetic are adversely affected if you smoke or are obese.

What the procedure involves

Breast reduction is a three to four hour operation that is performed under a general anaesthetic in an accredited operating theatre. Breast reduction surgery involves removing excess skin, breast fat and glandular tissue. The remaining breast tissue and nipple are repositioned to suit your body frame, and the skin is redraped. Dr Ilias Kotronakis and Dr Amira Sanki both have much experience in traditional breast reduction and short scar techniques, and will recommend the operation that will achieve the best breast shape and size to suit your body frame. While small scars and liposuction can be used in young patients with good quality skin, most patients require more significant skin and breast tissue surgery. This will produce a scar around the areola (the pigmented skin around the nipple) and also at the lower aspect of the breast. These scars will not be visible through your clothing or swimming costume. The exact position of the scars will be determined by the amount of lift necessary, but every effort is made to minimise your scars.

What to expect after surgery

Breast reduction surgery is a three to four hour operation and you will leave hospital after 1-3 days. Local anaesthetic is also used during the surgery to minimise your post-operative pain. Despite the duration of the operation, most women describe that their recovery was much better than they expected. On waking, you will find that you have dressings over your incision wounds and in some cases, thin, plastic drain tubes attached to the skin adjacent to your breasts.

The skin incisions are closed with dissolving stitches that lie under the skin. Initially the wounds will be pink. Over time the scars usually fade. Having a fully qualified plastic surgeon open and close your incisions means you will have the finest technique in your surgery. However, the quality of your scars is also a function of your skin type and genetics.

Most women are able to return to desk job style work within 2 weeks. It is best not to perform any strong exercise for 6 weeks, to allow your wounds to mature so that you get the best possible cosmetic result.

Does breast reduction surgery affect breast screening and the risk of breast cancer?

Breast reduction surgery removes some of the fatty and glandular tissue of your breasts. There is research to suggest that breast reduction surgery reduces the risk of breast cancer in excess of what would be expected for the volume of tissue removed.

Since the surgery rearranges and removes some of your breast tissue, a new “baseline” mammogram will need to be performed one year after the surgery.

Can private health insurance be used?

You can usually use your private health insurance for breast reduction surgery. It usually pays for all your operating theatre and hospital costs, including the post operative stay. Medicare and your private insurance may also contribute to the doctors’ bills. Call your health fund and see if you are covered. The Medicare Benefits Schedule code likely to be used is 45220.

Who should perform breast reduction surgery?

Breast lift surgery should be performed with sophisticated surgical technique for the safest and best results. It carries real risks, and as such should be considered carefully.

We recommend that the procedure is only ever performed in an accredited hospital. We also recommend that you carefully consider your choice of surgeon. Unfortunately doctors without surgical qualifications beyond their medical degree are allowed to perform surgery. Your surgeon should be appropriately qualified with at least a Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS), which means that they have specialist surgical training. FRACS is the standard qualification required in Australia to perform surgery in private and public hospitals.

Members of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons have a FRACS and specialised training in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, including breast reduction.

Our surgeons, Dr Amira Sanki and Dr Ilias Kotronakis are fully qualified Plastic Surgeons. They have both received Honours degree in their Sydney medical schools. They both have FRACS qualifications as Specialist Surgeons in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and are members of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. They both have extensive experience and training in breast reduction, including the most advanced and up to date techniques. They are committed to giving their patients the safest and best treatment available.

Where to get more information

A consultation with a qualified Plastic or Breast Surgeon is the best place to get more advice. More information and a video presentation on breast reduction is available online at the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons website.