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Breast reduction surgery

A breast reduction is an operation to make your breasts smaller and, sometimes, to improve their shape

Close up of a woman who desires breast reduction surgery
Breast reduction surgery is a procedure to make your breasts smaller, and often will make them more lifted also. It is usually performed to improve the appearance of your breasts, instead of for health reasons, but it can help significantly reduce back problems. The surgery helps people who are unhappy with the size and shape of their breasts, improving their confidence and quality of life in turn.

At Circle Health Group, we have a network of thousands of consultant plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgeons ready to help you. To book your initial consultation with a specialist consultant, you can do so online or call a member of our friendly advisory team on 0141 300 5009.

The cost of breast reduction surgery varies across the UK depending on where you have surgery and who with.

To find out more about the cost of breast enlargement surgery with Circle Health Group, call us on 0141 300 5009. We have a team of knowledgeable advisors who can answer your pricing queries in detail.

We offer fixed-price treatment packages, so you'll know exactly how much your treatment will cost before you book the operation. This price will include your surgery as well as your follow-up appointments any aftercare you need. However your initial consultation will be charged separately.

if you want to spread the cost of your treatment, our flexible payment options allow you to pay monthly over a period of one to five years, making breast reduction surgery more affordable than you think.

Breast reduction surgery will not usually be covered by your private health insurance, but in the case that yours is, we work with all major providers.

Breast reduction surgery with Circle Health Group is typically performed by a consultant plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon. When you go private, you can choose the specialist you want to see, and can pick an appointment time that works for you. 

You can usually see a specialist for your initial consultation within 48 hours of booking your appointment with us. Give us a call on 0141 300 5009 and we'll help you find an appointment. 
During this initial consultation, your surgeon will ask about your general health and medical history. They will want to know what size and shape you want to achieve from your surgery, so they can attain the best results.

Your consultant will usually examine your breasts and also take photos of your breasts for your medical records. This consultation is a safe space for you to ask as many questions as you like. It's an opportunity to understand which techniques for surgery are available to you. You can ask any questions you like about having a breast reduction surgery, including those about aftercare and your recovery.

The time you'll wait between your initial consultation and having surgery will differ from person to person, but it is usually around two weeks.

Your consultant will give you a good idea of timelines during your initial consultation, after which they'll put together a fixed-price treatment package based on everything you have discussed together. Once you've agreed to the costs, we can get you booked in to have your surgery at a time that suits you.

Breast reduction surgery is for people with larger breasts who want them to be smaller. There are several reasons why you might want smaller breasts, including:

Your breasts are painful

Large breasts can cause chronic back, neck, and even shoulder pain. This can require a pain management plan involving medication and physiotherapy, and can take a significant toll on your daily life.

You can no longer enjoy the things you love

Your breasts might affect your ability to do the things you love. For example, they might cause pain when you run, preventing you from remaining as active as you would like.

Your breasts are causing skin problems

Some people with large breasts experience uncomfortable itching and rashes on the skin within the crease of their breasts. This is often exasperated by sweat, making warm weather a source of anxiety, not enjoyment.

You are unhappy with the appearance of your breasts

Your might be unhappy with the appearance of your large breasts and want them to be smaller for aesthetic purposes.

You have a lack of symmetry across your breasts

You might have one breast that is larger than the other, and would like to correct this lack of symmetry.

Whatever your reason for desiring breast reduction surgery, our consultants are here to help you get the size and shape of breasts you want.

Before surgery, your consultant will provide you with a detailed checklist of things you need to do to prepare for surgery. This checklist includes which items you should take with you to hospital (you will probably stay in hospital overnight).

You should refrain from vigorous exercise such as sport in the week leading up to your surgery. This is to avoid the risk of injuring yourself before the procedure. This could cause increased levels of pain and swelling following surgery and slow down your recovery timeline.

Stay active before surgery

Although you should refrain from high-impact, vigorous exercise before surgery, you should remain active in the run-up to surgery. We recommend following a low-impact exercise plan with activities such as yoga, swimming, and gentle walking. Remaining active helps maintain your general health and wellbeing, which can actually boost your recovery.

Recovery-proof your home

You should also ensure your house is recovery-proof for when you return home from surgery. This involves stocking up on groceries, including tinned, easy-to-cook food (you might not have the mobility or energy to cook sophisticated meals or go to the supermarket in the first week or so after surgery), and eliminating any tripping hazards such as loose tiling before going into hospital.

You should also arrange for someone to collect you from the hospital after surgery, as you will not be able to drive home on your own due to having had general anaesthetic. We can arrange for a taxi to collect you from hospital, if needed.

Your consultant is here for you

Understanding how to prepare for surgery, including factors such as whether you need to stop taking certain medication in the run-up to surgery, can be daunting. But your consultant is here to answer any questions about preparing for surgery you might have. You can rely on them to help you be as prepared as possible before the procedure.

Breast reduction surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes around two to three hours.

There are several techniques your consultant can use to perform the procedure. One is the inverted-T reduction, which involves cutting around your nipple, down, and under the crease of your breast. Another is the vertical-pattern reduction, which involves cutting around the nipple and travelling down with no cut underneath your breast. Your consultant will discuss which technique they will use at your initial consultation. This decision will be based on the size of your natural breasts and the size you would like them to be.

Your consultant will begin by making an incision across your breast(s) based on their chosen technique. Your consultant will use a specialist instrument to remove excess fat, glandular tissue, and skin from your breasts. Your nipples and areola (the area of dark-coloured skin on the breast that surrounds the nipple), will be moved into a new position to match the new, reduced size of your breasts.

Usually the blood supply to your nipple and areola is preserved on a stalk of tissue (known as a 'pedicle'), so it can be moved into its new position. If your breast is long, your nipple might need to be removed completely and replaced with a skin graft. This is relatively uncommon.

To complete the procedure, your consultant will stitch your breast tissue and skin together with dissolvable stitches.

Recovering from breast reduction surgery is a different experience for everyone. Your recovery time depends on several factors, including your general health and fitness levels, as well as how well you manage your recovery at home. Most people fully recover from breast reduction surgery within six weeks.

Surgical drains after surgery

Surgical drains are tubes placed near surgical incisions (cuts) to prevent pus and other fluid building up in your incisions, which can cause an infection. The drain is a small plastic tube placed in your wound during surgery. It is connected to a plastic drainage bag that collects the fluid.

After breast reduction surgery, you will likely need surgical drains to drain the build-up of fluid where your breast tissue has been removed. Surgical drains can be in place for up to six weeks. Your consultant will ensure you understand how to care for and change your surgical drain safely at home throughout your recovery period, if needed.

Returning home

You might be able to return home on the same day as your breast reduction surgery, but some people need to stay overnight for additional aftercare. Your consultant will be able to discuss the likelihood of this with you based on your circumstances.

You will not be able to drive home on your own after surgery, because you will be coming round from general anaesthetic for up to 24 hours after. You will need to arrange for someone to collect you from hospital, or we can arrange for a taxi to collect you. You should not drive for at least a week after returning home to protect your healing as much as possible, and you should only drive short distances in the second week.

You will likely return home with dressing on your wounds. This includes gauze (white cotton squares held on your breasts by tape) and wound closure strips (very thin, adhesive bandages). Your consultant will ensure you have a detailed set of instructions on showering with dressing and how and when to change it.

Scarring and bruising

You will probably have scars around your nipples following breast reduction surgery. You might also have a vertical scar that runs down your breast, and a horizontal scar across the crease below your breast. This will fade over time, and you can usually use of bio-oil and specialist ointments to help scarring heal faster.

Three to four weeks after surgery

You should take a week or two off work to rest and recover at home, but in week three or four you should be fine to return to the office. People with manual or physical jobs may need to take more time off work, as you should avoid strenuous activity for at least a month after surgery. This includes heavy lifting and sport. You can enjoy gentle exercise such as yoga, swimming, and walking to remain fit and healthy as you recover

Six weeks

You should be able to return to normal daily life after six weeks, slowly easing more strenuous activities into your day as recommended by your consultant.

Our recommendations for breast reduction recovery:

Wear a sports bra for up to three months after surgery

Some consultants recommend wearing a sports bra 24 hours a day for up to three months after breast surgery to support your breasts as you adjust to their new size. You can discuss this with your consultant.

Take traditional painkillers to manage pain and tenderness

Your breasts will feel painful and tender after surgery, but over-the-counter painkillers can help you effectively manage this.

Be careful when dressing yourself

Be cautious as you get dressed to avoid catching and irritating your stitches.

Your consultant will ensure you understand best practice for caring for surgical wounds and how to best manage swelling and pain from surgery. They will also answer any questions you might have about returning to work and everyday life after surgery.

Like all surgical procedures, there are some levels of risk to consider when having breast reduction surgery. It is a generally safe and common procedure with excellent outcomes, but it comes with some potential complications (like all procedures, however minor), which include:

General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Unsightly scarring of your skin
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Blood clot in your leg
  • Blood clot in your lung

Specific complications of this operation

  • Numbness or continued pain on the outer part of your breast
  • Loss of skin around your breast, including the areola and nipple
  • Change of breast and nipple sensation
  • Reduced ability to breastfeed

How painful is breast reduction surgery?

You will be under general anaesthetic during breast reduction surgery, meaning you will not feel any pain. But you will experience pain and swelling for the first few weeks after surgery, though this can be effectively managed with painkillers.

Will breasts grow back after breast reduction surgery?

The skin, fat, and tissues removed during breast reduction surgery are permanently removed and cannot grow back, but gaining weight can cause new fat to be deposited in your breasts, causing them to grow.

Do breast reduction scars go away?

They might not vanish completely, but breast reduction scars will fade to a thin, flat line that is not noticeable. You can also use specialist creams and ointments to reduce scarring, but you should discuss this with your consultant.

Is it easier to lose weight after breast reduction surgery?

It might be easier for you to exercise after surgery with smaller breasts, which could make it easier to lose weight and remain fit after breast reduction surgery.

How do you sleep with surgical drains?

It is best to sleep on your back if you have surgical drains and are recovering from breast reduction surgery. This will prevent you from dislodging the drains, and help minimise swelling in your breasts.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations to fit your routine
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant suit your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Support by the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to learn more about this procedure, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in August 2022. Next review due August 2025.

  1. Breast reduction (female), NHS
  2. Breast reduction surgery, Mayo Clinic
  3. Breast reduction, Nuffield Health
  4. Breast Reduction, The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
  5. Breast Reduction Surgery, Web MD

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