Breast reduction: Less is More


Not just for celebrities


Drew Barrymore and Ariel Winter are just a few of the celebrities who have publicly voiced the positive impact breast reduction surgery has had on their quality of life. If you’re one of the many women facing the reality of back and neck pain, the inability to participate in everyday exercise and anxiety around clothing and lingerie shopping, it’s probably an avenue you’ve thought about exploring yourself.


Life changing procedure


Breast reduction surgery is one of the most successful and immediately satisfying aesthetic procedures, thanks to the life-changing physical and emotional benefits. Most commonly, women seek out the surgery because large breasts make them feel uncomfortable both physically and psychologically and often someone in their life has told them about the surgery and the difference it made to them.

In this blog post, ASAPS member and Auckland, NZ based Specialist plastic surgeon Dr. Katarzyna Mackenzie discusses the topic of breast reduction in women and teenagers.

In doing so, ASAPS member and Auckland, NZ based Specialist plastic surgeon Dr. Katarzyna Mackenzie aims to provide you with knowledge to help you to make safe surgical choices. This patient safety focus of Dr Mackenzie’s blog is well aligned with the ongoing patient safety advocacy activities of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS).


What is the goal of breast reduction? 


Breast reduction is designed to make the breasts more shapely, better supported, and smaller. Other common goals include:

  • Improvement of symptoms such as neck and shoulder pain, shoulder grooves
  • Overall silhouette becomes more balanced 
  • Large areolas can be reduced during the same procedure
  • Swimsuits, sports bras, and form-fitting clothes will look and feel better


Patient’s journey


A recent patient of mine shared her journey of breast reduction surgery on TV AM show as well in New Zealand Herald. She said: “Without a bra, they used to swing like pendulums around my waist “. She said she often felt like she was running out of breath and exercise was problematic, so largely avoided it. She snored at night and when she came home from work at the end of the day, she’d take a nap because she felt so exhausted.

“It was a downward spiral,” she recalled. “Even walking up to my letterbox was a challenge. I didn’t enjoy riding my bike or running around with my eight-year-old because I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs. So, I avoided those things.”


Top five things you need to know about breast reduction surgery


  • Patients are generally very happy with the outcome. I’ve lost track of the number of women who have told me they wish they had done it earlier.
  • The outcome of the operation is partly determined by the shape and size of the breasts and the quality of the skin and tissues before surgery.
  • Breast reduction surgery always results in scars, but they do fade away with time with careful management as directed by your Plastic Surgeon
  • Although breast feeding may be possible after a breast reduction, there is a chance that the operation may affect the ability to breastfeed. If this is of concern, it may be best to delay the procedure.
  • Breast reduction may be performed in teenagers


Breast reduction in teenagers


Women of all ages have come under my care – including some who have had their surgery paid for by their grandparents – but the youngest reduction was for a 14-year-old girl whose sporting aspirations were being thwarted by her breast size.

However, it is important to point out a scientific data support breast reduction surgery in teenagers as a 2019 paper published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery showed.  For selected young patients there are significant benefits from breast reduction surgery that outweigh the risks and improve the patients’ symptoms.

There are specific medical board regulations in Australia and New Zealand that define professional standards while considering cosmetic surgery in teenage patients. For patients who satisfy all criteria, I perform breast reduction provided they are mature enough to understand the implications that they may need a re-reduction in the future because breasts grow up to the age of 18. In certain instances, we have been reluctant to offer a reduction for young patients because of that reason.




To conclude, as cosmetic breast surgery increases in popularity, marketing has become a huge focus for practices operating within this highly competitive landscape. Unfortunately, some practitioners will compromise safety and aesthetic outcomes to implement marketing  at all costs. Hopefully this blog post provides you with some useful knowledge to help you make better decisions and spot a gimmick when you see one.

Remember, all invasive surgery carries risks and always seek the opinion of a fully-qualified and registered specialist plastic surgeon, and conduct thorough research before undergoing any cosmetic procedure.


Dr Katarzyna Mackenzie MD, PhD, FRACS is a specialist plastic surgeon and an ASAPS Member with extensive training and experience in her field. If you have any questions breast reduction surgery discussed in the blog, you are welcome to contact Dr Mackenzie.


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