Breast cancer

Updated 29 May 2015

Breast surgery: the how and why

Big or small, dissatisfaction about breasts is not always just a function of neurosis and can have a direct impact on how a woman sees herself.


Dissatisfaction about breasts is not always just a function of neurosis: women who really are flat chested really do experience difficulty finding clothes that fit, and often have issues around their femininity. 

And women who have really large and heavy breasts have even more difficulty finding clothes that fit them, and often suffer from backache. They’re also excluded from participating in many sports, meaning they’re less active, with considerable implications for long-term health.

The good news is that whether your breasts are too large or too small, most of the time, surgery can fix it.

How a breast enlargement is done

During a breast enlargement operation, incisions are made in the crease of the breast, around the nipple, or in the armpit. Breast tissue and skin are lifted to create a pocket for each implant.

The breast implant may be inserted directly under the breast tissue or beneath the chest wall muscle. Breasts will appear fuller immediately after the operation, but the scars will need time to fade.

A before and after photo of a breast enlargement:

How a breast reduction is done

These steps illustrate how a breast reduction is done:

Step 1: The lines indicate the area of skin, breast tissue, and fat to be removed and the new position for the nipple.

Step 2: Skin above the nipple is brought down to reshape the breast. Stitches close the incisions, giving the breast its new contour.

Step 3: Scars around the areola, below it, and in the crease under the breast are permanent. They can fortunately be concealed easily by clothing.

A before and after photo of a breast reduction:



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Ask the Expert

Breast cancer expert

Dr Gudgeon qualified in Birmingham, England, in 1968. She has more than 40 years experience in oncology, and in 1994 she founded her practice, Cape Breast Care, where she treats benign and malignant breast cancers. Dr Boeddinghaus obtained her qualification at UCT Medical School in 1994 and her MRCP in London in 1998. She has worked extensively in the field of oncology and has a special interest in the hormonal management of breast cancer. She now works with Dr Gudgeon at Cape Breast Care. Read more.

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