Breast reduction surgery, also known
as reduction mammoplasty, is a procedure that helps reduce the size of a
woman’s breasts. A plastic surgeon will remove extra fat, tissue, and skin
through cuts on the undersides of both breasts. Breast reduction is an
outpatient procedure that generally doesn’t have many complications.
Reasons for Breast
Women with large breasts often have
painful physical symptoms due to the strain that the weight of their breasts
places on the neck, shoulders, and back. Some women even suffer from constant headaches,
poor posture, and herniated discs.
Additionally, some women feel
self-conscious or have a negative body image because of their breast size.
Breast reduction surgery can address both these physical and psychological
Preparation for Breast
Before a breast reduction procedure,
your doctor will perform a routine breast exam to determine if you’re a
candidate for the surgery. You may also need a mammogram or other lab tests to
ensure you’re in good health. You and your doctor will need to decide whether
or not to use general anesthesia during the surgery, as some patients do fine
with local anesthesia.
In the days before the surgery, your
doctor will probably advise you to stop taking certain over-the-counter drugs
such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Arrange in advance for someone to give you a ride
home and take care of you for a few days after surgery. Call in any
prescription medications you may need to help manage pain after surgery.
On the day of your surgery, you’ll
probably have to avoid food and water in the hours leading up to the procedure.
Your doctor will provide specific instructions.
Breast Reduction Procedure
After administering anesthesia, the
surgeon will make an incision starting at your areola (the pigmented area
around the nipple) and continuing down to the underside of your breast. They’ll
remove fatty tissue and skin to reduce the size of each breast. The surgeon is
often able to leave the nipple in place, but, in some cases, they may need to
After Breast Reduction
After the surgery, your breasts will
be wrapped in gauze-type bandaging. Drainage tubes may be attached to your
breasts to help get rid of excess fluids from the initial swelling after surgery.
Your doctor will tell you when it’s
safe to remove the bandages. Typically, you’ll wait up to a week before you’re
able to wear a bra again. At that point, you’ll wear a special soft bra for
Healing from Breast
While you may return home from the
hospital on the same day as the surgery, you’ll need plenty of time for rest
Be careful to avoid any movement that
would cause muscle strain for several weeks after surgery. Don't lift heavy
groceries or anything over 5 pounds.
Your breasts will be sore and probably
painful to the touch. With pain medication, you should be able to manage the
healing process better. You may also have symptoms like numbness, itching, or
Based on how quickly you recover, your
doctor should be able to tell you when you can return to normal activities like
work, exercise, or driving.
Risks Associated with
While the risks of a breast reduction
surgery tend to be minimal, some women may suffer from:
- decrease or
loss of sensation in the nipples or breasts
results (one breast or nipple may appear larger or smaller than the other)
- problems with
reactions to anesthesia, surgical tape, or drugs used during the procedure
- long recovery
Outcomes for Breast
Results after surgery are positive for
many women. They achieve both the health and cosmetic benefits of smaller
Be aware that you may have to buy new
clothes to better fit your body, and it might take some time to mentally adjust
to your new appearance.
Also, keep in mind that it can take
months for the swelling to completely go away. If your breasts don’t
immediately look smaller, don’t worry. Check in with your doctor to make sure
you’re healing at the right pace.
In some cases, you might need follow-up
surgery to correct any mistakes or enhance the appearance of your breasts.