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Minimising Risks of Breast Reduction Surgery

Breast reduction surgery can offer relief from the physical discomfort associated with 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 recovery.

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

Breast Reduction Surgery (Reduction Mammoplasty)

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Choosing a Surgeon

Selecting a qualified and experienced surgeon for 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.


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.

Anaesthesia 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.


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 toward 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 Anaesthesia

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.

Potential complications associated with general anaesthesia include:

  • Pneumonia: In rare instances, anaesthesia 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 anaesthesia drugs can occur. An experienced anaesthetist is trained to recognise and address such reactions swiftly.
  • Awareness Under anaesthesia: Some individuals may have partial awareness during surgery, a condition referred to as intraoperative awareness. This rare occurrence can lead to distress, but vigilant anaesthesia management can prevent it.
  • Respiratory Issues: In severe cases, anaesthesia may impact lung function. This risk is typically minimal but underscores the importance of having a qualified anaesthetist oversee your procedure.

It’s crucial to discuss your medical history, allergies, and any concerns you may have with your surgical and anaesthesia 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 anaesthesia, the collaboration of a skilled surgical team and vigilant anaesthesia management significantly reduce these risks and ensure a more controlled, suitable surgical experience.

Breast Reduction Risks

Problems During the Operation

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.


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 adhering 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 travelled 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.

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 reduce the risk of 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.

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 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
    • Our plastic surgeons require their patients to 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 to the success of breast reduction surgery.

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 the 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.
    • If you experience any redness, irritation, or pain, immediately contact your surgeon.
  • Avoid taking baths or soaking in a hot tub.
  • Wear a 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 Should You 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 and read reviews. Find some online groups in which people share their experiences about breast reduction surgery. Ask 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 Coco Ruby Plastic Surgeon?

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.

Our surgeon 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.

Your surgeon will also discuss your goals associated with the surgery. Be open about your aesthetic goals. You can also show some reference photos of how you want your body to look.

Coco Ruby Plastic Surgeon 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 and 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.

Specialist Plastic Surgeons and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon

With a wealth of experience and training, our Specialist Plastic and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeons are dedicated to best-practice patient care and education, customising Surgery for each and every patient to best meet their needs and desired surgical outcomes.

Dr Craig Rubinstein
Dr Broughton Snell
Dr Stephen Kleid
Dr Gary Kode

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001124843

Dr Craig Rubinstein

Dr Craig Rubinstein is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon based in Hawthorn East, Melbourne. With over 20 years of surgical experience especially in all areas of Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery, but particularly in breast surgery. These include Breast Augmentation and Breast Reduction as well as Breast Surgery Revision.

Furthermore, he believes that surgical customisation, precision planning and technical expertise help him to provide optimal surgical outcomes for his patients.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001190266

Dr Broughton Snell

Dr Broughton Snell is a Specialist Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. His training in Plastic Surgery took place in Australia and the United States of America (USA).

Dr Snell is a fully qualified specialist plastic surgeon having completed his Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon MED0001052799

Dr Stephen Kleid

Dr Stephen Kleid is an experienced Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon (Otolaryngologist) based in Melbourne with a passion for Septo-rhinoplasty, Septoplasty, as well as, a strong interest in Rhinoplasty Revision.

Dr Kleid trained at Melbourne University, then completed surgical training at various hospitals including Royal Melbourne, Royal Children’s, The Eye and Ear and St Vincents. He worked as a surgeon at the University of Florida Medical school for further experience.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001405964

Dr Gary Kode

Dr Gary Kode is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, with experience in Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, as well as non-surgical treatments.

Dr Kode is a member of several organisations, including the Australian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), The International Confederation for Plastic and Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, and he holds a Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

What to do next?

Our Patient Liaison Team can assist with any questions you may have when considering a procedure. You can send in an enquiry form below or call our Melbourne Clinic between 9 am – 5 pm Monday - Friday.

Disclaimer: Results depend on individual patient circumstances and can vary significantly. Results may also be impacted by a variety of factors including your lifestyle, weight, nutritional intake and overall health. Consult your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for details. This information is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your Surgeon.

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