Minimising Risks of Breast Reduction Surgery

Breast reduction surgery can offer relief from the physical and emotional discomfort associated with overly large breasts, but like any surgical procedure, it carries certain risks. By understanding these risks and taking proactive steps to mitigate them, you can add to the likelihood of a successful and complication-free recovery.

Below, we’ll explore various strategies and precautions to help you navigate the post-operative phase of breast reduction surgery with preparedness.

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Choosing a surgeon

Selecting a qualified and experienced surgeon for your breast reduction surgery is a pivotal decision that can impact the outcome of the procedure and your overall experience. Here are some key factors to consider when making this choice:

Board Certification

Ensure that your chosen surgeon is board-certified in plastic surgery. Certification indicates that they have undergone rigorous training and examinations, demonstrating their expertise in the field.

Experience

Look for a surgeon who specialises in breast reduction procedures and has a substantial track record of performing them successfully. Years of experience often translate to surgical skills and a deeper understanding of patient needs.

Patient Reviews and Testimonials

Seek out patient reviews and testimonials to gain insights into the experiences of others who have undergone breast reduction with your chosen surgeon. Positive feedback from previous patients can help when it comes to making your decision.

Before-and-After Photos

Ask to see before-and-after photos of breast reduction surgeries performed by the surgeon. This visual evidence can help you assess their skill in wanted outcomes and aligning with your aesthetic goals.

Communication and Comfort

During your initial consultation, assess your comfort level with the surgeon. Effective communication, a thorough understanding of your goals, and a compassionate approach are crucial for a successful doctor-patient relationship.

Hospital Affiliation

Inquire about the surgeon’s hospital affiliations. A surgeon who is affiliated with a reputable medical facility often has access to advanced equipment and resources, supporting the quality of care.

Surgical Techniques

Discuss the surgical techniques the surgeon employs for breast reduction. They should be well-versed in various methods and be able to recommend the one that suits your needs.

Complication Management

Inquire about their experience in managing complications related to breast reduction surgery. A skilled surgeon should be equipped to handle any unforeseen issues that may arise during or after the procedure.

Anesthesia Team

Ensure that the surgeon works with a qualified anaesthesia team. Anaesthesia plays a critical role in your safety during surgery, so you want experienced professionals administering it.

Follow-Up Care

Understand the surgeon’s approach to post-operative care and follow-up appointments. Comprehensive aftercare is essential for monitoring your healing progress and addressing any concerns.

Cost

While cost should not be the sole determining factor, it’s essential to have a transparent discussion about the surgeon’s fees, as well as any additional costs associated with the procedure.

Taking the time to research and select a qualified and experienced surgeon for your breast reduction surgery is a vital step towards a safe and successful outcome. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, seek multiple opinions if necessary, and trust your instincts when making this critical decision for your health and well-being.

Risks Associated with General Anesthesia

Breast reduction surgery is conducted under the administration of general anaesthesia, a procedure that, like any medical intervention, carries inherent risks. To mitigate these risks and ensure a safe and comfortable surgical experience, it is imperative to select a reputable operating facility with a skilled specialist anaesthetist. This choice significantly reduces the likelihood of complications.

While general anesthesia is generally safe, potential complications can include:

  • Pneumonia: In rare instances, anesthesia can lead to postoperative pneumonia. Proper monitoring and ventilation management can help minimise this risk.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Patients may develop blood clots in their legs, known as deep vein thrombosis. This risk is mitigated by techniques such as compression stockings and early postoperative ambulation.
  • Allergic Reactions: Although uncommon, allergic reactions to anesthesia drugs can occur. An experienced anesthetist is trained to recognize and address such reactions swiftly.
  • Awareness Under Anesthesia: Some individuals may have partial awareness during surgery, a condition referred to as intraoperative awareness. This rare occurrence can lead to distress, but vigilant anesthesia management can prevent it.
  • Respiratory Issues: In severe cases, anesthesia may impact lung function. This risk is typically minimal but underscores the importance of having a qualified anesthetist oversee your procedure.

It’s crucial to discuss your medical history, allergies, and any concerns you may have with your surgical and anesthesia teams during preoperative consultations. This open dialogue allows them to tailor the anaesthesia plan to your specific needs and reduce the chance of potential complications. Additionally, adhering to preoperative instructions, such as fasting before surgery, can further support your care during breast reduction surgery.

While risks exist with any surgical procedure, including those involving anesthesia, the collaboration of a skilled surgical team and vigilant anesthesia management significantly reduces these risks and ensures a more controlled, suitable surgical experience.

Breast Reduction Risks

Problems During the Operation

Understanding that breast reduction is a significantly invasive surgical procedure is crucial. Like any surgical intervention, it carries inherent risks. Complications such as excessive bleeding or damage to the structures surrounding the breasts can arise. Therefore, selecting a well-equipped facility with the capability to address any situation that may arise during the procedure is of paramount importance. This ensures your safety and well-being throughout the surgical process.

Infections

Infection is a potential risk with any surgical procedure. It can occur if there are complications during surgery or if pre and post-operative care instructions are not diligently followed. Infections are not only painful but can also pose serious health threats. To minimise the risk of infection, it is crucial to prioritise your health. This means adhering to all recommended pre and post-operative care instructions, attending follow-up appointments, and diligently taking prescribed medications as directed.

Internal Collection of Fluid or Blood – Seroma or Hematoma

Some people experience swollen breasts immediately after breast reduction surgery. This is due to extensive fluid retention in the breasts. To counter this, surgeons recommend wearing a compression bra for several weeks after the surgery and adhere to the post-surgery instructions.  Keep your head alleviated and sleep on your back at all times.

Unfavorable Scarring

Excessive scarring is a concern for some patients following breast reduction surgery. Several factors can contribute to this, including surgical technique, complications with wound healing, and failure to follow the post-operative instructions provided by the surgeon. When these elements align unfavorably, they can result in severe breast scarring, which may necessitate additional procedures and a considerable amount of patience to address effectively.

Persistent Pain

Persistent pain is an unfortunate issue that some patients may encounter following breast reduction surgery. While it is often attributed to surgical factors, there are situations where it cannot be completely resolved. In such cases, the recommendation of revision surgery may arise. This potential outcome is considered one of the most challenging risks, as it can significantly impact your overall quality of life.

Pulmonary embolism (PE) – Blood Clotting

Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a medical condition characterised by the blockage of one or more pulmonary arteries in the lungs, typically by a blood clot that has traveled from another part of the body, most often from the legs. PE can be life-threatening as it can impede blood flow to the lungs, resulting in serious complications.

Symptoms may include shortness of breath, chest pain, and an increased heart rate. Immediate medical attention is crucial in cases of suspected pulmonary embolism, and treatment often involves blood-thinning medications and other interventions to dissolve or remove the clot.

Potential Complications Specific to Breast Surgery

Uneven Nipples

Many women have concerns about nipple appearance after breast reduction surgery, and while it’s a valid concern, proper research and communication with your surgeon can help minimise this risk. It’s important to understand that breast size and shape will change after the procedure, which can affect the positioning of your nipples. In some cases, the nipples may need to be detached and repositioned, while in others, the change in breast size alone can alter nipple placement. Open communication with your surgeon can help you get nipple appearance and symmetry that you want.

Asymmetrical Breasts

While some degree of breast asymmetry is common, and even occurs before surgery, it can become more noticeable after breast reduction surgery. However, choosing a reputable and skilled surgeon can significantly reduce the risk of significant asymmetry. In some cases, minor variations in breast size or shape do not require revision surgery. It’s essential to have realistic expectations and discuss your wanted outcomes with your surgeon to get the best possible results.

Loss/Change in Sensation

It’s important to be aware that breast reduction surgery can lead to changes in breast sensation. Immediately after the procedure, you may experience a complete loss of sensation around the incision site, which can gradually change over a few weeks. However, some individuals may experience more permanent changes or reduced sensation in the breast area. To minimise the risk of complications and ensure the best possible outcome, it’s crucial to select an experienced surgeon, especially if nipple grafting is part of your procedure.

Breast Firmness

Concerns about excess breast skin and loss of firmness are common among breast reduction surgery patients. To address this concern effectively, it’s essential to have an open discussion with your surgeon before the procedure. This communication allows your surgeon to tailor the surgical technique to minimise the risk of excess skin post-surgery and maintain a firmer appearance.

Breast Feeding Challenges

If you have plans to have children and intend to breastfeed after breast reduction surgery, it’s advisable to consider timing carefully. The ability to breastfeed after the surgery can be influenced by the surgical technique employed. Generally, this procedure involves the removal of many milk ducts, which can pose challenges for breastfeeding. Discuss your intentions with your surgeon to make an informed decision regarding the surgery’s timing.

Keys to Minimising Risks of Breast Reduction Surgery

To ensure the success of your Breast Reduction Surgery and minimise risks, it’s essential to follow these key guidelines:

  • Quit Smoking: Refrain from smoking for an extended period both before and after surgery
  • Dr Patrick Briggs requires his patients quit at least 3 months before and after surgery.
    • Smoking can hinder the body’s healing process and increase the risk of complications.
  • Arrange Transportation: Arrange for a reliable individual to drive you home after the surgery, as you won’t be in a condition to do so yourself. If possible, also plan for assistance at home during the initial recovery period.
  • Prioritise Rest: Adequate rest is crucial for your recovery. Allow yourself the time needed to recuperate fully.
  • Take Time Off: Plan to take time off from work and avoid scheduling any activities that involve strenuous physical exertion.
  • Nourish Your Body: Maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Proper nutrition supports effective healing.
  • Stay Hydrated: Ensure you drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and related issues.
  • Fiber and Stool Softeners: Incorporate fiber into your diet and consider using a stool softener to prevent constipation, which can be quite uncomfortable.
  • Medication Management: Avoid aspirin and other blood-thinning medications before and after the surgery to minimise the risk of excessive bruising.
  • Refrain from Smoking and Alcohol: Steer clear of smoking and alcohol consumption for at least a few weeks following the procedure. These substances can hinder the healing process and increase complications.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can contribute significantly to the success of your Breast Reduction Surgery and promote a safer recovery.

Post Surgery Activity Level

  • Light walking is beneficial relatively soon after surgery as it helps improve blood circulation and reduce swelling.
    • It also helps avoid blood clots and pneumonia.
  • Refrain from excessive arm use for three weeks after the surgery.
  • Refrain from any kind of vigorous activity for a period of 4 to 6 weeks after the surgery.
    • Slowly and steadily increase your activity level week by week after consulting with your surgeon.
    • DO NOT lift anything heavy for the first six weeks after the surgery.
  • Avoid going in for work for the first four weeks after the surgery or as discussed with your surgeon.
  • Do not swim until your surgeon gives you a go-ahead.

Post Surgery Incision Care

  • Take a shower after 48 hours or once the drainage tubes are removed.
  • Do not expose your scars to direct sunlight for at least six months after the procedure.
  • Always wear sunblock. This is to avoid incisions getting darker.
  • Do not take off steri-strips until they start to curl at the ends. Let the skin glue flake off.
    • Avoid picking it with your hands.
  • Make sure that your incisions are clean and keep inspecting them for any signs of infection.
  • Avoid taking baths or soaking in a hot tub.
  • Wear compression garment for up to six weeks after the procedure. Or until your surgeon says otherwise.
  • Do not wear bras that have underwires or padding for a period of 3 months.

When You Should Call for a Doctor after Breast Reduction surgery?

Despite taking precautions, complications can arise. It’s crucial to stay vigilant and promptly consult your doctor if you:

  • Notice unusual swelling or excessive bruising.
  • Observe significant disparities in the appearance of your breasts.
  • Witness increased redness around the surgical site.
  • Encounter severe, persistent pain unrelieved by painkillers.
  • Develop an allergic reaction to any prescribed medications.
  • Experience nausea, vomiting, or severe headaches.
  • Develop a fever.
  • Notice any abnormal yellowish-green discharge from the incision.
  • Experience loss of sensation or mobility.
  • Simply feel that something is not right.

Contacting your doctor immediately in such cases is essential to mitigate potential risks associated with breast reduction surgery.

Some Final Tips about selecting a Surgeon and minimising risks of breast reduction

Always do your research prior to settling on a surgeon. Search the internet, read reviews. Find some online groups in which people share their experiences about Breast Reduction Surgery. Ask within your friends and family, your co-workers and your extended circle. You might find someone who has undergone the procedure.

Do not rely entirely on online resources for reviews. They might help but nothing beats an actual, authentic review from a real-life person. Shortlist at least three surgeons and go for consultations with each of them.
Do not forget to visit their facility and make sure they are capable of handling any emergency situations. Trust your gut and choose the surgeon you feel most comfortable with. If you don’t like any of them, don’t settle and keep on researching.

Remember, the right surgeon will make all the difference when it comes to breast reduction surgery. So, invest most of the time in doing that and the surgeon will take care of the rest.

We hope you found this article insightful. If you have any more questions, leave them down in the comments section below and we will get back to you shortly. Good luck with your breast reduction surgery.

What to Expect During a Consultation with Dr Briggs?

One of the most important elements of any successful cosmetic surgery is your consultation with your surgeon. It is important to open up with your surgeon and ask as many questions as you can. Don’t hold back at this point. Until you are completely satisfied with the surgeon and all the answers, do not proceed with the surgery.

Dr Briggs will ask you about your; medical history, any surgeries you have had in the past, allergies to any particular substances and your general health. This step is critical to ensure that you are the right candidate for the surgery and any of the above-mentioned complications do not occur.

Dr Briggs will also discuss your goals associated with the surgery. Be open about the aesthetic you want and how having larger breasts make you feel. You can also show some reference photos of how you want your body to look.

Dr Briggs will measure your breasts and will give you a rough estimate of how much breast tissue will be removed and how your breasts could look after surgery. Your surgeon will request that you get a mammogram and breast exam prior to the surgery.

The surgeon might dive deeper into your lifestyle and daily habits such as; whether you smoke or drink alcohol, how active you are and ask you to make necessary adjustments prior to the surgery. The surgeon might ask you to avoid certain medications along with a few other precautions to take prior to the surgery. Make sure you adhere to all the instructions given by your surgeon to avoid any risks and complications.

Dr Patrick Briggs Melbourne
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Dr Patrick Briggs FRACS (Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons) is a Specialist Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon.

Both he and his team are dedicated to patient care and are committed to treating each and every patient with respect and privacy.

Furthermore, he is experienced in BreastBody and Face Surgery having performed over 4500 Surgeries in private practice.

How can we help?

Dr Briggs’ Patient Coordinators take pleasure in assisting you with any questions when considering a plastic surgery procedure. Please call the Hawthorn East clinic in Melbourne between 9 AM – 5 PM on Weekdays.

Phone (03) 8849 1400 Or Email us.

What Next?

Want more information about your Procedure?

  • For more information about pricing and payment methods, please visit our page on Surgery Payment options.
  • Talk to our Patient Care Team from 8 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday on (03) 8849 1400.

What to Bring to Your Consultation

  • If you like, please bring a friend or relative to help discuss the information and your choices.
  • Take a lot of notes and thoroughly examine the documents your surgeon provides.
  • You may need to undress so it’s a good idea to wear simple clothes.

How to Book a Consultation

  • Dr Briggs’ Consultation fee is $300.
  • A referral from your GP or your specialist is essential (as of the 1st July 2023).
  • Please contact the Patient Care Team at Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery to book your consultation.

Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is for educational and informational proposes. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article. The author and publisher of this article make no representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, or completeness of the content of this article. The information contained in this article is strictly at your own risk.