Breast reduction, technically known as reduction mammaplasty,
is a surgical procedure designed to remove fat, glandular
tissue, and skin from the breasts, making them smaller,
lighter, and firmer. This procedure can also reduce
the size of the areola, the darker skin surrounding
Women with extremely large, pendulous
breasts experience a wide array of medical problems
including, but are not limited to, back and neck pain;
skin irritation; physical deformities; and breathing
problems. Once breasts are fully developed (usually
at age 18), women may elect to have this procedure to
alleviate the serious physical discomfort having extremely
large breasts create.
Gynecomastia (enlargement of the male breast) is not
an uncommon condition, affecting as many as 40 percent
of men. This condition may affect either one or both
breasts. The majority of the cases have no known cause
while the others might be related to the use of certain
drugs and or medical conditions.
The goal of breast reduction is to create smaller,
better-shaped breasts in proportion with the rest of
How is a Breast Reduction procedure performed?
Your surgeon will make the first incision around the
dark pigmented area around the nipple (areola) so that
it can be repositioned to a higher location. The nipple
itself is not removed, however. Then, a second incision
is made horizontally in the crease line under the breast.
The third incision will go vertically from the nipple
to the crease line. Excess fatty tissue will be removed
and skin will be trimmed away to reduce, tighten, and
reshape the breasts. Finally, the incisions are closed
with small sutures (stitches). Bandages are applied
to the breasts and you will be placed in a surgical
bra for support.
How long does a Breast Reduction procedure
Breast reduction surgery generally takes about one
to three hours per breast, depending on extent of the
repair and the techniques being used.
What type of anesthesia is used?
Breast reduction is most often performed under general
anesthesia, causing you to be asleep during the whole
Where is the procedure performed?
Most breast reduction surgeries are performed as outpatient
procedures, allowing you to go home within hours of
the operation. However, if an extremely large amount
of breast tissue will be removed, the doctor may want
you to stay overnight in the hospital where medical
personnel can monitor your initial recovery.
When can I return home and
resume normal activities?
Generally breast reduction is done on an ambulatory
basis but in some cases may require an overnight stay.
However, it is necessary that you have someone to pick
you up after the procedure, take you home, and stay
with you for at least 24 hours.
Most women return to their usual activities in one
week. However, you must not lift anything for the first
two weeks and do no heavy lifting for the first four
weeks. Avoid raising your arms above your head for at
least two weeks.
How do I prepare for a Breast Reduction
During your initial consultation, your surgeon will
discuss the changes that you would like to make to your
appearance. Since the appearance of your breasts is
a matter of personal perception and preference, you
will need to discuss your concerns in detail so your
surgeon can determine the appropriate alternatives.
Your surgeon will explain how your age, the size and
shape of your breasts, and the condition of your skin
may affect the results of this procedure. You also should
make arrangements ahead of time for someone to drive
you to and from your procedure and to assist you with
your daily activities during your recovery period.
Prior to your surgical procedure, the surgeon will
perform a complete health history and physical. This
will include examining and measuring your breasts, as
well as photographing them as a frame of reference during
the surgery and afterwards. Your surgeon may also require
you to have a mammogram (breast x-ray). Knowledge of
your allergies, medications and previous surgeries should
be brought to your surgeon's attention at this time.
Specific instructions to assist you in preparing for
this procedure will be given to you after the health
history and physical is complete. Depending on your
individual health status, the instructions may include
guidelines regarding your diet, alcohol intake, smoking
and which medications to take or avoid. Your experience
will be much smoother if you remain compliant with your
What precautions are necessary during recovery?
It is important to wear your surgical bra for seven
to ten days after your procedure. At approximately the
fifth postoperative day, your bandages will be removed.
Your surgeon may recommend a particular style of bra
be worn for the two to three weeks following the wearing
of the surgical bra. Your stitches will be removed in
stages during the second week after your procedure.
It takes six-eight weeks after your procedure for your
breasts to obtain their final shape. At first, they
may be somewhat bruised and swollen; but gradually the
swelling will decrease and your supportive bra will
help shape the breasts. Additionally, you will receive
specific instructions to follow during your recovery
including rest and sleeping positions, bathing and showering
techniques, and caring for your incision area.
What are the possible complications after
a Breast Reduction procedure?
The scars in breast reduction procedures are placed
in natural skin demarcation lines around the areola,
down the breast, and across the bottom of the breast.
In most women, the scars from the incisions will be
pink for about six months and gradually fade thereafter.
It is important to know that all scars are permanent
and their height, width and final color are never completely
As with any surgical procedure, small nerves to the
skin are interrupted during surgery. Portions of the
nipple area may feel numb or have less than full feeling.
Sensitivity returns over several weeks, but some diminished
feeling may last indefinitely. This does not usually
interfere with erotic sensation and many women even
report an increased erotic sensitivity with their new
No procedure is without risks; however, the majority
of complications known to be associated with a breast
reduction are minor when the procedure is performed
by an experienced board certified plastic surgeon. It
is always important to be informed about the possible
complications before any surgery. Be sure to discuss
any concerns you may have with your surgeon.
What results can I expect after a Breast
After your procedure, you will experience some discomfort
for a few hours when the anesthesia wears off. Your
surgeon will give you medication to relieve any distress.
Most women require very little pain medication after
the first 24 hours.
Please note that the loss of elasticity that caused
the original sagging of the breast can recur. Occasionally
women lose part of their improvement over variable periods
of time. Rarely, a woman will request another procedure
to reduce the breasts again; or perhaps request a breast
lift to correct undue sagging. The vast majorities of
women maintain their results and do not require any
Most women report that the results from breast reduction
are so favorable that concern about scars is minimal.
Your breasts may not attain their final shape for up
to ten weeks. Be sure to address any questions or concerns
to your surgeon immediately. Your health and happiness
are the most important considerations any time.
Choosing the right surgeon
To obtain further information regarding Breast Reduction,
we advise you to consult with a qualified and experienced
board-certified plastic surgeon. Regardless of the type
of procedure you are considering, it is crucial to choose
the right surgeon for your individual goals. To receive
a complimentary consultation with a specialist in your
area, simply fill out our Online Referral
Form or call Toll Free 800.449.1884.