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Breast Reduction

What Are The Risks Of Breast Reduction Surgery?

Last modified: 
20/03/2012 - 12:25

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

The breast reduction procedure is normally safe. But as with any surgical procedure, there are risks relating to the procedure itself or to the anesthetic. Any early sign of infection will be vigorously treated, and if bleeding occurs postoperatively, it will be immediately dealt with.

Some people who have breast reduction surgery experience:

  • Delayed wound healing.
  • Noticeable, permanent scars on the breasts. The breast reduction procedure will leave scars, but some women have a greater tendency to produce scar tissue than others do. Women who smoke are more likely to heal slowly and develop prominent scars.
  • Small sores around the nipples following surgery. These sores can be treated with antibiotic cream.
  • Breasts that are slightly mismatched or nipples that are unevenly positioned.
  • Inability to breast-feed because most of the milk ducts leading to the nipple are removed.
  • Permanent loss of feeling in the nipples or breasts.
  • Loss of blood supply to the nipple and areola, which can lead to tissue death. This complication is rare, and the nipple and areola can usually be rebuilt from skin grafts taken from other parts of the body.
  • Infection, which in very rare cases can lead to death if it is not effectively treated.

Who Should Not Have Breast Reduction Surgery?

Breast reduction surgery is not recommended for women with:

  • Breast cancer
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Cellulitis (infection of the soft tissue of the breast)
  • Hardened breast skin
  • Dry or broken breast skin
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Breast Reduction

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.