A breast reduction can bring enormous medical and aesthetic benefits. It can relieve troublesome back pain and reshape the breasts, often boosting the patient’s quality of life dramatically. Nevertheless, undergoing a breast reduction operation is a deeply personal decision worthy of significant consideration.
Reading through this guide you will find all the information you need to get a clear picture of what scarring to expect after your breast reduction operation so as to make an informed decision about the best route to take.
Does Breast Reduction Cause Scarring?
As with all surgeries, some scarring after a breast reduction procedure is inevitable. However, the shape, visibility, and recovery time of scars can differ depending on the technique used by the surgeon, as well as how you care for the scars post operation.
What Do Breast Reduction Scars Look Like?
The appearance of breast reduction surgery scars depends greatly on the techniques used by your surgeon. It is important to choose the most skilled and experienced surgeon who will work with you to create a bespoke cosmetic surgery plan to achieve an optimal result while minimising scarring and discomfort.
In general, the scar(s) resulting from the cosmetic surgery will initially appear as a fine, pink line, but this will fade over time. The line will begin to relax and flatten over the recovery period, finally settling as a thin white line.
Generally, these lines will follow the outside edge of the areola, sometimes extending in a straight line down to the breast crease, although some procedures may also require a small, additional incision across the line of the breast crease.
Certain individuals, due to factors such as genetics, skin type, and overall health, are more predisposed to developing keloid scars and hypertrophic scars following a breast reduction procedure, however these are generally less common.
Factors that Impact Scars
There are many elements that will have an impact on the size and visibility of breast reduction scars, all of which require careful consideration before a personalised breast surgery plan is formed.
- Losing weight before the surgery can reduce the possibility of a delayed wound healing process or infection, both of which can potentially worsen scars.
- Your age can also play a significant role in determining the appearance of scars from a breast reduction, as older skin heals more slowly and creates longer recovery periods.
- Skin tone, on the other hand, can influence scar visibility, with darker skin sometimes contrasting more sharply with the pale shade of a mature scar.
The exact surgical technique used during your breast reduction will be chosen based on your specific needs; larger reductions may require more incisions and, therefore, more scarring. There are two main techniques used in breast reduction:
The first “short scar” technique, the circular incision, simply requires an incision around the areola (the small circular area around the nipple). This is suitable for patients who require smaller reductions that are minimally invasive.
Secondly, there is the “lollipop”, or keyhole incision, which involves an incision around the areola that follows vertically down to the breast crease, creating the lollipop shape from which it takes its name. This method can be used to remove larger amounts of tissue and fat from the breast, creating the desired reduction or realignment.
The larger scar technique is similar to the lollipop technique but requires one additional incision along the breast crease. This is often referred to as an “anchor-shaped”, or “inverted T” incision. The additional incision naturally results in an additional scar, but this technique may be necessary for those looking to make a more significant reduction in breast size and shape.
You will be asked to avoid smoking in the 4 weeks following your breast reduction, and resuming smoking after this period is not advisable. Smoking can impede healing, increasing the risk of more visible scars that take longer to heal.
One of the many factors that influence the appearance of breast reduction scars is their exposure to the sun. Fresh scar tissue can darken more than the skin around it under UV rays, leading to more noticeable scars.
Part of your operation recovery plan should include avoiding exposure of the scars to UV rays over the first year and making sure to apply high-factor sunscreen (factor 30+) when necessary.
Itchiness is a part of any recovery from surgery, but it is important to resist the temptation to scratch, as this runs the risk of contaminating the wound or causing it to reopen.
This part of recovery is managed with careful consultation from your surgeon, which may include the use of ice or antihistamines to keep the itching at bay. Scratching wounds can result in more visible scarring, so mitigating these normal postoperative side effects is vital.
Most Common Breast Reduction Scars
There are four main types of breast reduction scars depending on the type of breast reduction performed – crescent, donut, lollipop and anchor.
- Circular – Follows the full outer edge of the areola. Suitable for removing a small amount of breast tissue to create a minimal reduction in breast size.
- Lollipop/Keyhole – A scar that follows the full outer edge of the areola then follows in a straight vertical line to the breast crease. This method can remove a large amount of breast tissue and fat, resulting in a more prominent reduction.
- Anchor – Identical to the lollipop scar with the addition of an extra incision horizontally along the breast crease. Ideal for patients with asymmetrical breasts with significant drooping.
How Long Does Breast Reduction Scars Last?
Scars from a breast reduction or breast lift surgery will most likely never disappear completely. Initially, the scars will appear red and discoloured, but this redness should calm down after the first six weeks. Over the next 18 months, your scars should begin to heal into thin, white lines.
If you are concerned about scarring, the CREO Clinic also offers laser scar treatment to manage the appearance of scars and improve the skin’s quality.
Breast Reduction Scars Over Time
By following postoperative care procedures, breast reduction scars can become less and less visible as time passes.
Avoiding scratching, smoking, and overexertion in the initial stages is crucial to giving the wounds the best possible start in their journey to recovery and softening the appearance of scars in the long term.
Is Breast Reduction Worth It?
For women who have struggled with the aesthetic and medical issues associated with disproportionately large breasts, a reduction surgery can be a life-changing, invaluable decision. The benefits it can provide are not just the alleviation of painful physical symptoms, but also an aesthetic improvement that can provide a significant boost to your confidence.
In collaboration with the right surgeon, breast reduction can be immensely rewarding, allowing for a more active lifestyle, relief from chronic pain, and the chance to feel more at home in the skin you live in.
How To Reduce Breast Reduction Scars
One of the most important factors in keeping scarring to a minimum is to opt for an experienced cosmetic surgeon who is skilled at camouflaging scars along the body’s natural contours. In addition to this there are some other simple techniques that can contribute to less visible scars.
Scar Reducing Plasters And Gels
Some scar reducing plasters or silicone gels and sheets work to provide a barrier that allows moisture and oxygen to pass through, thereby reducing the production of collagen. Lowering collagen production in this way can reduce the possibility of a raised or discoloured scar.
Daily Massage Of Scars
Massaging your scars can help improve their appearance, but do not attempt to massage your incisions until they are fully healed. Once the incisions are closed and healed up, your scars may benefit from 2-3 five-minute massages every day for 6-12 months after your surgery.
Can You Have Breast Reduction Without Scars?
Small reductions are possible with liposuction alone, meaning the incisions made and the scars left behind are tiny. However, this type of procedure is not suitable for patients who have breast tissue to remove as well as fat and excess skin.
The best option is to take into consideration the many factors that influence scar visibility and always follow the scar care instructions given to you by your surgeon.
Breast Reduction Scars For Men
Gynaecomastia can be a concerning issue in men, but it can be significantly remedied through gynaecomastia reduction surgery.
Because men experiencing gynaecomastia usually require less extensive reductions, a circular incision around the nipple is generally used. This means that breast reduction scars for men are usually subtle, blending well with the outer edge of the areola.
Usage Of Liposuction To Reduce Breast Reduction Scars
Liposuction can be used to remove fat deposits of the breasts and leaves only a very small scar per breast. Its main disadvantage is that it can only provide small reductions – it is not suitable for making drastic changes in breast size.
Schedule a Consultation with CREO Clinic
If you are thinking of undergoing breast reduction surgery, book a consultation with Dr. Omar Tillo, the CREO Clinic’s double board-certified surgeon.
Dr. Tillo is an expert at carefully creating a tailor-made treatment plan to reshape your breasts. With his vast experience in breast reduction operations, he can help you achieve the natural-looking results that you deserve.