When less is better: How a breast reduction can improve your life

Posted on 4 October 2021

Are your oversized breasts making you uncomfortable, embarrassed or causing severe pain? If so, you might consider breast reduction surgery.

“After trying on the umpteenth bra that didn’t fit, I was close to tears,” says 48-year-old Lynette Peters. “I’ve always had large breasts, but after gaining a great deal of weight during menopause, they had expanded even more.”

Peters also struggled to find comfortable sleeping positions – and after a long discussion with her husband, she opted for breast reduction surgery. “I’m definitely happy with the results,” she says. “I’ve bought new underwear and clothes and am sleeping more comfortably. Now my only problem is that my tummy is bigger than my boobs used to be!”

Dr Chris Snijman, a plastic surgeon at Mediclinic Morningside, says pathological breast hypertrophy (oversized breasts) can cause chronic back pain and hunched posture when walking in some patients. “In addition, women with oversized breasts often suffer from ptosis (sagging) and enlarged areolas; both of which mammoplasty (breast reduction surgery) will address. This entails the surgical removal of excess breast tissue and the reshaping of the breast, and the results can be life-changing.”

The surgery is a 2-hour long procedure and recovery time is approximately 10 days. It’s done under general anaesthetic and in most cases you’ll need to spend the night in hospital. You’ll have a surgical drain inserted for about three days to aid in recovery and to keep fluid or infectious material from building up at the site of your surgery.

Dr Snijman explains that your surgical approach will depend on three factors:

  1. Skin quality
  2. The amount of breast tissue that needs to be removed
  3. Skin and breast elasticity

However, in most cases your surgery will follow these general guidelines:

“A keyhole incision is made around the nipple area, down to the inframammary fold [the natural lower boundary of the breast, where it meets the chest] and then along the fold,” he explains. “The skin and tissue is then removed from the breast and, in most cases, the nipples are repositioned. Once the breasts have been remoulded, the keyhole incision edges are sutured together to hold everything in place.”

You can expect your breasts to feel tender and painful for a few days following the surgery and you’ll need to take around a week off work. You’re also advised not to exercise vigorously for at least a month afterwards.

“Of course there are scar implications to take into account too,” Dr Snijman adds. “You can expect a fine scar around the nipple that extends vertically down the lower part of the breast. Depending on the technique used and the original size of the breast, there might also be a short horizontal scar in the inframammary fold.”

You also need to see your doctor fairly regularly after the surgery for dressing changes and follow-up checkups.

Breast reduction surgery is one of the surgeries now offered to private paying customers as a Fixed Fees procedure. Find out more here: https://mediclinicprivatefixedfees.co.za/

Published in Patient Stories

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