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When undergoing breast reduction surgery, patients should expect some small amount of scarring. There are different methods of breast reduction, so the scars created will depend upon which technique is carried out, as well as the size of the breasts being operated on.  

The level of scarring also depends on the patient genetics and their individual healing characteristics, as well as how closely post operative instructions are followed. 


What Are the Most Common Breast Reduction Scars?

There are different techniques for breast reduction and the most common breast reduction scars created will depend on the technique employed, as well as the patient in question and the size of the breasts being reduced. 

Most commonly you should expect some scarring around the nipple, across the bottom of the breast fold, and a vertical scar linking the nipple scar to the breast fold scar giving rise to the so-called ‘inverted T’ or anchor pattern. Some surgeons prefer to perform the operation omitting the breast fold scar giving rise to the ‘vertical scar’ reduction. Not everybody is necessarily eligible for this and it tends to be used for not such large breasts. 

If a breast reduction is performed using liposuction techniques only, there will only be minor scars under the arms, where they cannot be seen. This technique is often referred to as ‘scarless breast reduction’. 

It is important to note that alongside delivering the optimal surgical outcome, plastic surgeons are specifically aiming to minimize scarring and often use techniques to place incisions in areas where scars can be less noticeable. Scars also typically improve in appearance with the passage of time.  

The Cadogan Clinic provides every patient with access to one of London’s most advanced scar minimisation programmes, led by our scar prevention team here at the clinic who are experts in scare care after breast reduction surgery. 


How Do the Types of Incision Performed Result in Different Patterns of Scarring?

There are just a handful of incision types employed by breast reduction surgeons, and each results in a slightly different pattern of scarring. 

As well as assessing whether a breast reduction is medically necessary for you at your consultation, they will also indicate which incision type is best indicated for you: 

Anchor or Wise Pattern Incision: 

A very common incision pattern that is typically use for larger breast reduction cases, as it enables the manipulation of the largest possible amount of breast tissue by your surgeon. An incision is made around the areola, then followed by a vertical incision from the bottom of the areola to the inframammary fold, and a further horizontal incision along the inframammary fold, in an ‘anchor’ shape. Subsequent scarring appears in this anchor shape 

Vertical or Lollipop Incision: 

Again a circular incision is made around the areola, but this time only the vertical incision is made down to the inframammary fold, without the horizontal incision required. This is preferred for more modest medium-sized reductions and result in more minimal scarring than the Anchor technique 

Peri-areolar or Donut Incision: 

A technique most suited to smaller breast reductions in which only the circular periareolar incision is made around the areola. Provided there is sufficient skin elasticity your surgeon can sufficiently manipulate and excise breast tissue via this incision. Scarring is therefore materially reduced, and limited only to this circular periareolar area.   

‘Scarless’ or Minimal Scarring Approach: 

This refers to liposuction-only breast reduction techniques in which more punch-like incisions are made to enable the entry of a thin liposuction cannular and the extraction of breast fat and tissue. This results in minimal scarring, but is only suitable for individuals with very good skin elasticity and minimal breast reduction targets 


Do Breast Reduction Scars Go Away?

Breast reduction scars will never completely go away, but with an expert surgeon and the right after-care, scarring can be minimal. 

It is very important that a patient follows after-care advice in order to minimise scarring. Smoking, tanning, excessive scrubbing and scratching the area should be avoided as these can make scarring worse. 


Before and After Breast Reduction Surgery

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Breast Reduction Scar Timeline

Breast Reduction Scar Timelines vary from individual to individual but there is a general stage pattern that most patients tend to experience as the scars begin to mature and fade.  

We detail an expected timeline of scars after breast reduction surgery below:  

Breast Reduction Scars after 3 Weeks 

In the immediate post operative phase the incision sites will be covered by dressings and bandages. The focus at this point is less the scars, and more the immediate recovery from surgery, so its important to get plenty of rest, keep the incisions clean and not do anything to strain the healing tissue  

Breast Reduction Scars after 1 Month/6 Weeks 

At this point you are entering the healing phase and your swelling and bruising will still be prominent, and the incisions will be red and fresh. At this point you are still required to rest, avoid strenuous activity and make sure the incision sites stay out of the direct sunlight 

Breast Reduction Scars after 2 Months 

You should now expect to enter what is called the scar maturation phase, which should last for around 6 months. This is the phase in which your scars gradually will start to fade and the redness begin to lighten into your more natural skin tone. Scars are initially raised after surgery, and it is also at this time that you should expect them to begin to flatten and begin to appear flush with your natural skin level 

Breast Reduction Scars after 6 Months 

This is the intermediate healing phase in which scars should now be mature and much less noticeable on the surface of the skin. Their overall appearance should seem more blended with the natural skin tone and surrounding skin area. Gentle massage may be recommended  

Breast Reduction Scars after 1 year 

Scars typically mature on an ongoing basis and you are now in the long term healing phase which continues from this point forward. You can expect ongoing marginal improvements beyond this first year, and whilst your scars may never fully disappear they should by now have become very faint and much less observable to the naked eye 


How Long Do Scars Last After Breast Reduction Surgery?

Scarring from surgical incision looks like a thin, raised line on top of the skin. As it heals, it will darken and flatten. It may take several months to a year for scars to fade. 

People with darker skin are at a greater risk of hyperpigmentation, or thicker raised scars. 


How Do You Reduce Scar Tissue After Breast Reduction?

After undergoing breast reduction surgery, patients must wear a compression garment day and night for three weeks or sometimes as long as six to eight weeks. This is important as it helps to protect the wounds and aid the healing process. 

Some clinics recommend gentle scar massage techniques to help reduce scar tissue post-surgery. 

The Cadogan Clinic provides each and every one of its patients with access to one of London’s most advanced scar minimisation programmes, led by our scar prevention team here at the clinic. Our nurses have decades of experience of scar care after breast reduction and will provide you with the tools and techniques to support your healing process as effectively as possible 


What is a Short Scar Breast Reduction?

Short scar breast reduction surgery, as the name suggests, is a technique which consists of smaller incisions. Because these incisions are smaller, scarring is contained to a small area, usually on the lower half of the breasts. These scars are hidden under clothing. 

This method is usually used for women who are experiencing sagging and want a small to moderate reduction in their breast size. Short scar techniques are not as effective for the reduction of larger breasts. 


Are There Any Alternative Breast Reduction Scar Treatments?

There are plenty of alternative breast reduction scar treatments, although it is important to note the effectiveness of such alternative scar treatments varies between patients and are hard to quantify medically.  

Alternative treatments may include topical scar creams and gels available over the counter or by prescription, protective silicone gel sheets applied topically to retain moisture and soften scars, massage with moisturising bio-oil, and laser therapy to address thickness, discolouration and texture. Cortisone Injections can help address raised hypertrophic scars, whilst microneedling can help stimulate collagen production to improve texture and appearance. 

Your consultant can recommend any one or combination of these after your surgery.


Are Breast Reduction Scars on Dark Skin Any Different?

Yes breast reduction scars can appear differently on darker skin tones and black skin. Darker skin and black skin tones are generally more prone to hyperpigmentation, hypertrophic scarring and keloid formation, although none of these are common. 

It is therefore particularly important to adopt a rigorous post operative breast reduction scar care programme if you have this darker skin type in order to manage your scarring process, such as scar massage and avoiding direct exposure to the sun.


Words From Our Founder

Mr. Bryan Mayou

Realistically the right plastic surgeons should tailor breast reduction scar options to each patient, discussing incision techniques, scar placement, and what they can realistically expect in terms of both outcome and scarring.

Patient preferences, lifestyle, and meticulous postoperative care should be taken into account as well to make sure the right balance is struck between getting the best outcome while minimizing visible scarring.  

I also always like to emphasize education with my patients, to empower them with all the up to date information on scar maturation, potential complications, and postoperative care, so they feel confident that they can add value post operatively and make sure they get the very best results.
Mr. Bryan Mayou

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