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Breast reduction

What is a breast reduction?

A breast reduction is an operation which reduces the size of the breast and lifts the breast (as necessary) at the same time.

A breast reduction is proven to improve these symptoms significantly with satisfaction rates of 95%.  A breast reduction is a therapeutic procedure for patients with the above symptoms. Most patients just wish they did it earlier.

Why should I have a breast reduction?

People with large and heavy breasts can often suffer from:

  • Neck, shoulder and back pain

  • Poor posture and chest wall heaviness

  • Difficulty exercising

  • Difficulty finding clothes to fit well

  • Unwarranted attention or comments

  • Skin irritation/rash on the under surface of the breast

Preparing for my surgery

You will have a full consultation with Dr Kerri Mooney to discuss your concerns and medical history.  It is ideal if you are at a stable weight and your body mass index (BMI) is close to normal.  It is important to be as healthy as possible before an operation by eating well, exercising and avoiding cigarette smoke.


Typically, you will have some routine investigations prior to surgery including a mammogram.  We will discuss pre-operative preparation with you in detail including what post-operative bra to get, when to fast and arrive for surgery.  You will be given written and verbal information so that you are as prepared as possible for the surgery.


What to expect in the surgical period

The operation takes approximately three to four hours.  Typically, patients stay one night in hospital and go home to recover the following day with support from friends or family.  During the operation, the lower portion of the breast tissue and skin is removed to reduce the weight of the breast.  The nipple is elevated to an ideal position and the breast tissue is lifted to create a more youthful breast as necessary.  A drain will often be placed on each side which can often be taken out the next day.  The sutures are dissolving so they do not need to be removed.  The dressings will be a light tape which can get wet at 48 hours post-operative in the shower.

Recovery after surgery

Often patients feel relieved as they have had a significant amount of weight remove from their chest.  It is normal to have some bruising and swelling after surgery which goes down over time.  You will be discharged with some medications including pain relief.  We will arrange a dressing change at approximately 10-14 days after the operation. We advise that you wear a post-surgical bra 24 hours a day for the first two months.  We recommend light walking in the immediate post-operative period with return to exercise at approximately 6-8 weeks.

Possible risks of breast reduction surgery

All operations come with associated risks.  Although rare, it is important that you understand what these are. 

  • Infection
    Any operation comes with the risk of infection. This can often be addressed with tablet antibiotics. However, if it is a serious infection, admission to hospital and even further surgery may be required.
  • Bleeding
    Although very rare, a patient may bleed during surgery and require a blood transfusion. Also, rare, a patient may develop a haematoma (blood clot) after surgery and require a return to the operating theatre to evacuate a haematoma (blood clot).
  • Wound healing problems
    Surgical incisions may take longer to heal than expected and require a longer time with dressings. This can be a result of multiple reasons including poor nutrition and smoking.
  • Scar
    Dr Mooney will discuss the expected scar with you. Please see the diagrams of the standard incisions with include an inverted “T” and a vertical incision. Usually, these incisions heal as a faint white line. However, abnormal scars can form which are called hypertrophic or keloid scars. These are prominent, red scars that are raised. They are rare unless you have a personal or family history of keloid scars.
  • Peri-operative medical problems
    There are always risks when having an anaesthetic. These are rare. They include heart or lung problems, allergic reactions and deep vein thrombosis (blood clots).
  • Asymmetry
    A certain amount of breast asymmetry is natural in most women before an operation. Asymmetry can occur after surgery which may result in further surgery.
  • Change in sensation of the nipple
    There is a variable amount of change in nipple sensation that can occur. This often returns to normal after several months but can be long term. This is because the nipple is moved during the procedure to an ideal position. It can also occur if a nipple graft is required.
  • Loss of nipple or areola tissue
    As the nipple is moved to an ideal position during the procedure, it is possible that it does not have a good enough blood supply and results in some or all of the nipple tissue dying. This is very rare.
  • Breast feeding
    It is unknown if a breast reduction will improve or reduce a woman’s ability to breast feed after surgery. If a woman has a nipple graft as part of her breast reduction, where the nipple is fully removed and replaced as a patch, it is unlikely that she would be able to breast feed.
  • Breast disease
    Breast disease and cancer can occur independently of breast reduction surgery. All tissue that is removed during a breast reduction is sent to the lab for analysis. On rare occasions, an unexpected diagnosis of breast cancer is made.
  • Breast lumps
    Occasionally, patients can feel small lumps following breast reduction. These can be the result of fat necrosis where some fat cells have died in the breast tissue. This is because of the changes of blood supply to the tissue as it is moved. All lumps must be investigated to out-rule a breast cancer diagnosis.

Will my surgery be covered by insurance?

If you meet specific criteria, many insurance companies will cover part of the cost of a breast reduction.  Occasionally, they will cover the entire expense.  It is wise to check with them prior, to know what their specific criteria are.  Dr K Mooney is an affiliated provider with Southern Cross which makes the process easier.

In the correctly selected patient, breast reduction is an excellent procedure to treat debilitating symptoms and also improve the aesthetic appearance of the breast.  It removes the excess breast tissue and skin and also lifts the breast to a more youthful position. 

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