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How to Do an At-Home Breast Exam

By Breast

As we welcome Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you should know that breast cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in Australia, with over 20 000 new cases each year.

While breast cancer cannot be prevented, treatment outcomes are far more successful if it’s caught early. Regularly checking your breasts for any changes can make a big difference in how soon you are diagnosed.

Getting to know how your breasts usually feel is incredibly important. Familiarising yourself with how your breasts feel on a day-to-day basis will make it much easier to notice when there are any changes. Some women, for example, have very fibrous breast tissue, so they may feel some lumps and bumps every time they check their breasts. Knowing your breasts will enable you to tell what’s new and what’s normal for you.

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

One of the most common reasons for seeking a breast cancer diagnosis is the discovery of a lump in the breast tissue. These lumps will feel distinctly more solid than the rest of your breast tissue and may or may not be painful. Other signs to keep an eye out for include changes to the shape and size of the breast, a change in skin texture, or changes in the nipple. Therefore, it’s so important to be familiar with your breasts before doing your at-home check. ‘Orange peel’ skin or a scaly appearance could indicate something amiss, while sores, crusting, or discharge from the nipple are also signs of concern.

It is, however, important to remember that there are many possible reasons for a change in your breasts. If you notice any significant changes, you should see a doctor for a complete breast exam. If you are nervous about the exam, go with a friend, family member, or your partner.

How to Check Your Breasts At Home

To conduct an at-home breast check, you should remove all the clothing above your waist and lie down. This will help to spread your breasts out evenly, making it easier to feel for lumps. Start by using the pads of three middle fingers to feel for lumps or changes in texture, moving from your collarbone toward the bottom of your bra line, including your armpit. Make sure to alternate the two breasts and use a spiral pattern to check for any irregularities.

During the breast exam, you should use different pressure levels to feel for any lumps or thickening in the breast. A light touch will be enough to feel tissue close to the skin, while medium to firm pressure will allow you to feel deeper tissue. Make sure you do not lift your finger too high or too low off the skin.

When Should I Check My Breasts?

Because your breasts change during your menstrual period, it is recommended that you wait until just after your period to do your at-home breast exam. Your breasts can be more sensitive and feel different during your period due to hormonal fluctuations, so it is suggested that you choose a day roughly a week after the end of your period to do your exam.

According to women’s health experts, breast exams should be done at least once a month. If you notice changes in your breasts, make an appointment with your OB/GYN or primary care physician as soon as possible. These providers will order further tests, such as a mammogram or an ultrasound. However, remember that not all breast changes indicate cancer. While waiting for test results can be terrifying, try not to panic if you notice anything unusual or concerning in your breast during your self-exam.

How Can We Help?

As a specialist plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Sophie Ricketts provides many different options for breast surgery.

Even if an entire breast was removed (for example, to treat or prevent cancer, or as a result of other trauma), there are many options for performing a successful breast reconstruction. Many types of reconstructive surgery exist, and each case is unique. Generally, rebuilding the breast after mastectomy may involve breast augmentation, followed by nipple and areola re-creation where necessary. In some cases, breast reconstruction surgery also involves the other breast, so that the two breasts can be matched in shape and size.

Sometimes, the treatment plan allows to perform immediate breast reconstruction at the time of the mastectomy.  However, you may be relieved to know that delayed reconstruction, months or even years following surgery, is also a possibility.

Dr. Sophie Ricketts gets great satisfaction from helping patients to feel comfortable and confident in their bodies, especially following a traumatic event such as a cancer diagnosis and grueling treatment regime.

To find out more about breast surgery options, please see here.

To arrange a consultation with Dr. Sophie Ricketts, please have a look here.

What to expect from breast augmentation recovery

By Breast

Breast augmentation is a major surgery and usually involves between six and eight weeks of recovery time.

If you have been through pregnancy and breastfeeding, or would simply like to enhance the size and symmetry of your breasts, you might consider breast augmentation surgery. The treatment is very popular thanks to its ability to achieve excellent results, but it is important to understand that it takes time to fully recover from the surgery. Read on to find out what to expect from the recovery process, and what you can do to aid the healing process…

What can you expect after surgery?

Breast augmentation surgery is performed under general anaesthetic, which means that you won’t feel any pain during the procedure itself. Once the effects of the anaesthetic have worn off, however, you are likely to feel some pain. It is usually possible to leave the hospital within a few hours of surgery, but you will need someone to drive you home.


Your surgeon will provide you with a compression garment, which you should wear for the recommend time. This will help to minimise swelling, as well as build-of fluid. You will also be provided with medications to manage any discomfort that you feel.


Within a week or so, you should be able to resume some light day-to-day activities. You will, however, need to avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for around six weeks.


It is completely normal to experience some soreness, bruising and swelling for a few weeks after surgery. You will also notice surgical scars at the site of incision, but these will gradually fade with time. Speak to your surgeon about ways in which you can reduce scarring.


After around two months following breast augmentation surgery, you are likely to enjoy a full recovery. Your surgeon will let you know when it is safe for you to get back to your usual activities and exercise routine.

What can you do for a smooth recovery?

All patients are different, and your recovery will depend on a few factors, including your overall health and age. There are, however, a few things you can do to increase the chances of a good recovery process.


It is important that you wear any recovery garments that you have been provided with as these provide support and can help to manage painful side-effects. You should also take proper care of your surgical wounds and ensure that you keep them clean.


To manage painful side-effects, be sure to take any medications that your surgeon has prescribed. In some cases, you may be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection.


It is very helpful to prepare your home before you go in for surgery — arrange help with housework if you can, prepare some meals in advance, and set up a comfortable space in which to rest. Try to stick to a healthy, balanced diet and drink plenty of water as this will aid the healing process.


If you have any questions or concerns during your recovery, don’t hesitate to contact your surgeon. It is also important that you attend any follow-up appointments that have been scheduled so that your surgeon can check that you are healing as you should.


How can we help?

Dr Sophie Ricketts offers a number of procedures for the breasts, including breast augmentation. If you would like to enhance the size of your breasts, we encourage you to come in for a consultation so that you can discuss your particular aesthetic goals and concerns with Dr Ricketts. Dr Ricketts will guide you through the process and address any questions that you have along the way.

To find out more about breast augmentation and what the surgery involves, please have a look here.

If you would like to arrange a consultation with Dr Sophie Ricketts, please don’t hesitate to get in touch here.

How breast reduction can reduce back pain

By Breast

Breast reduction can reduce back pain, as well as shoulder and neck pain caused by heavy breasts.

Often, women with particularly large and heavy breasts struggle with discomfort and pain in the back, neck and shoulders as a result of the excess weight in the chest area. They may also have difficulty with exercising, as well as finding clothes that fit comfortably. The good news is that breast reduction surgery is a highly effective procedure for women who feel uncomfortable with the size of their breasts.

Read on to find out more about the procedure and how it can alleviate pain while improving the overall aesthetic of the breasts.

When should you consider a breast reduction?

In most cases, it is advisable to wait until after puberty before going ahead with breast reduction surgery. By the age of 17 years old, the breasts will be fully developed, and the procedure may be an appropriate option at this stage.

It is important to understand that bodyweight fluctuations can affect the size of the breasts, so if you are actively trying to lose weight, it is worth letting your surgeon know. They may recommend that you wait until you have reached a stable weight before you undergo surgery.

Another important factor to consider before you go ahead with breast reduction surgery is the fact that any breast surgery can affect breastfeeding. So, if you are planning a family, be sure to discuss this with your surgeon.

Does breast reduction include a breast lift?

As part of the natural ageing process (and especially after pregnancy), heavy and large breasts often begin to droop. When breasts sag below the ribs, it can lead to poor posture, as well as excess strain on the shoulders and back muscles.

One of the benefits of breast reduction surgery is that the procedure includes a breast lift. Both the removal of excess tissue and the change of the breast position on the chest contribute to one’s improved comfort following surgery.

What is the ideal size?

By reducing the size and weight of the breasts and lifting the breasts into a better position, it is possible to reduce, and in some cases, even completely alleviate back pain in the back, neck and shoulders. When it comes to choosing the ideal size, it depends on your particular needs and aesthetic goals. It is helpful to speak to your surgeon about the kinds of results that you are hoping to achieve with a breast reduction, as they will be able to advise you based on your overall body size and shape. It is important to understand that each patient is different, so your treatment will be completely tailored to suit your needs and preferences. Don’t be afraid to raise any questions that you have with your surgeon and to ask for their input when it comes to choosing a breast size that will look and feel good on your body.

How can we help?

Dr Sophie Ricketts offers a range of breast procedures, including breast reduction surgery. If you are concerned about the size of your breasts and are suffering from issues like back pain and rashes under the breasts, we encourage you to come in for a consultation.

When you come in and see Dr Sophie Ricketts, she will confirm that you are a suitable candidate for breast reduction surgery. She will explain the procedure to you in detail and address any concerns and questions that you have. She will also take the time to understand your aesthetic goals and guide you through your treatment from beginning to end.

If you would like to find out more about breast reduction surgery and what it involves, please have a look here.

If you would like to arrange a consultation with Dr Sophie Ricketts, please don’t hesitate to get in touch here.  We look forward to reducing your pain and helping you achieve a more balanced aesthetic.