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Guide updated 2017
Why consider breast reduction
Some women have great difficulty with their large breasts, especially if they are out of
proportion to their overall figure. The symptoms and problems women may suffer from include:
‣ Pain in the back, neck, shoulder and breast
‣ Grooving of the shoulders caused by bra straps
‣ Inflamed reddened skin under the breast
‣ Difficulty finding a suitable bra that fits and supports the breast correctly
‣ Difficulty finding clothes that fit – often needing much larger size tops compared to bottoms
‣ Difficulty undertaking exercise owing to pain and discomfort caused by the movement of their heavy breasts
‣ A loss of confidence in their appearance and feeling people are staring at their bust.
Breast reduction surgery may help control these symptoms, if large breasts are the main cause. For example, back pain may be due to other causes.
Are there alternatives to surgery
All surgery involves some risk. Weight loss may reduce breast size and, having reduced weight (a guideline body mass index is 27 or less), some women may find they do not need surgery. Correctly fitting underwear and clothing can improve comfort and appearance. Cognitive behavioural therapy can be effective for body image problems.
Ensure your consultation is with an accredited plastic surgeon who is on the GMC specialist register for plastic surgery, or a breast surgeon who has been certified in breast reduction surgery by the Royal College of Surgeons of England in its certification scheme due to be introduced in 2017.
Expect your surgeon to ask you about your general health, what symptoms you suffer from and what concerns you have about the size and shape of your bust. The surgeon will need to examine your bust and your overall figure to assess your proportions.
If, after careful assessment, you are suitable for breast reduction surgery expect to discuss the type of surgery, principles of the operation, likely outcomes and potential risks of surgery.
You may have more than one consultation. It is very difficult to take on board all the information at just one consultation, and it is important that you have time to think about the information you have heard and a chance to ask any questions.
Key points to discuss include:
‣ Your expectations and the expected outcomes of surgery
‣ The benefits to you of the surgery
‣ Any risks, complications or limitations – please see page 9
‣ Any family history of breast cancer.
Read more About the operation
The surgery and recovery
Risks and complications