What are the risks associated with a breast reduction?

Although breast reduction surgery is not the simplest of plastic surgery procedures, it is usually low risk if performed by a certified plastic surgeon using current and proven techniques. However, as with any surgery, there are risks involved. Most significantly, there is a risk of bleeding, infection, or in more serious cases, a rejection of the sutures. Because the nipple is relocated in this type of procedure, damage to the blood vessels can occur and in rare instances necrosis can develop on part or the entire nipple. These risks can be greatly reduced by preparing well for the surgery and adhering to the surgeon’s recommendations.


What do I need to have in mind before deciding on a breast reduction?

If you feel that a breast reduction may be beneficial to you, you should both research the topic well and speak openly with your surgeon. Often individuals have valid and justified reasons for wanting surgery although this may not be apparent to other people. It is therefore important to prepare well for the initial interview by having considered and delineated the reasons for wanting the surgery and to have realistic expectations regarding the outcome. During the interview, you must prepare yourself for the surgeon to be honest about your options and what you can expect from the surgery. It is very unlikely that you will be able to breastfeed after the surgery. It is also essential during this interview that you give the surgeon a basic medical history and information regarding any heredity breast diseases in your family and your use of tobacco, alcohol and health supplements.


How do I prepare for a breast reduction?

Before your surgery, your surgeon will give you information on how to prepare for the surgery, including information on fasting, smoking and prescription drug use. Being near your ideal weight is best for the success of this surgery. If you are a smoker, you should take a break for sometime before until after the surgery. Prior to the surgery, you should arrange for someone to pick you up and stay with you for a few days after the surgery.


Where is the surgery performed?

Breast reductions are usually performed in a hospital. Dr. Stefánsson and Dr. Einarsson performs their surgery at St. Jósefsspítali Hospital in Hafnarfjörður. In rare exceptions they will perform a breast reduction in an operating theatre at Domus Medica. Dr. Stefánsson and Dr. Einarsson‘s offices are on the 4th floor and operating rooms on the 6th floor.


Will I require anaesthesia?

Breast reductions are usually performed under anaesthesia. The anaesthetic is administered by an anaesthesiologist who is present during the surgery until several hours after you have woken up. Anaesthesia has improved greatly in recent years, resulting in safer surgeries with shorter recovery times and lowered likelihood of nausea.


What happens during the surgery?

When breasts are reduced, fat and gland tissue is removed from the breast along with excess skin. By removing this tissue and tightening the skin, the breast can be made smaller, lighter and firmer. Different methods and techniques are used for breast reduction. The most common does leave an anchor shaped scar on the breast which surrounds the nipple, goes straight down from the nipple and into a crease under the breast. During the surgery, the nipple and areola are reduced in size and moved higher up on the breast. After the surgery, the breast is bandaged for five or six days and then the bandages are changed. On rare occasion a drain is placed beneath the lower incision to allow fluids and blood to collect in the breast.


How long does the surgery take?

Breast reductions usually take two to three hours. Waking up from the anaesthesia takes another one or two hours and is monitored by the anaesthesiologist and trained nurses.


How will I feel immediately following the surgery?

After waking up from the surgery, you will feel pain in the incisions and surrounding area which can be managed with the appropriate pain medications. You must arrange for someone to pick you up from the hospital. Prior to being discharged, bandages are placed on the incision and breast which are not changed until five or six days after the surgery.


How long will it take to fully recover?

Plenty of rest and relaxation is imperative in the first two weeks following the surgery while the wounds are healing. Most women that have received a breast reduction can return to work after two to four weeks although they are not fully recovered by this time. In the first four to five weeks after surgery, you should avoid any physical exertion such as heavy lifting or strenuous exercise. Six weeks after surgery you should be able to return to exercise, swimming and other arduous physical activities.


What expectations can I have regarding the change to my appearance?

Satisfaction amongst women who have undergone breast reduction is amongst the highest of all types of plastic surgery. A breast reduction swiftly changes your appearance and brings allows more freedom in movement and clothing choices. You are very likely to feel better after a breast reduction. It is, however, important to keep in mind that the breasts are rarely the exact same size or perfectly symmetrical prior to the surgery regardless of their size. The same principle applies to the results of breast reduction surgery, making it unrealistic to expect perfect result. Plastic surgeons can make improvements and increase satisfaction and comfort levels, but they cannot make people perfect.