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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Overview of breast reduction surgery

Breast reduction is an operation to reduce the size of very large breasts. Very large breasts can cause health and emotional issues. They can be very uncomfortable or affect a woman's self-image.

Breast reduction surgery aims to help fix problems such as:

Breast reduction surgery

The purpose of the surgery is to make the breasts smaller and lighter. The breast tissue, fat and skin over the breast is reduced. Often surgery reduces the darker skin around the nipple (areola) and moves the nipples higher up. This operation is called reduction mammoplasty.

Surgery is only done once your breasts have finished developing.

The alternatives to surgery include:

Publicly funded breast reduction surgery is done for medical rather than cosmetic reasons. If you're very overweight (with a body mass index higher than 30), you should first try to lose weight, as that can help with oversized breasts. After that, if you're interested in surgery, talk to your GP. Your GP can refer you to a plastic surgeon if appropriate.

If you smoke, you should stop smoking. Smoking affects healing after surgery so you're less likely to be offered surgery if you continue smoking.

Only a few people who see a surgeon for breast reduction can get publicly funded surgery. You may want to pay to see a private plastic surgeon.

On the next page: Before breast reduction surgery

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by Canterbury DHB Plastic Surgery Department. Last reviewed November 2020.


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Page reference: 553046

Review key: HIBRR-85826