Breast reduction surgery is used to remove excess tissue, fat, and skin from the breasts. Also called reduction mammoplasty, this procedure helps achieve breast size proportion and ease discomfort associated with large breasts. Breast reduction surgery rates continue to rise, with more than 68,000 performed each year. Breast reduction offers many psychological and physical benefits, and some insurance companies consider the procedure medically necessary.
Candidate for Breast Reduction
A candidate for the breast reduction procedure is any woman who:
Wishes to improve her appearance and self-confidence.
Has back or neck pain associated with large breasts.
Experiences deep grooves in the shoulders from bra straps.
Has restricted physical activity due to breast size.
Factors to Consider
Women should consider certain factors before breast reduction surgery. These include:
Pregnancy – If you have not started a family, or if your family is not yet complete, you may want to postpone breast reduction until pregnancy is not an issue. Changes in breast tissue during pregnancy can affect surgical results.
Breastfeeding – If you are still breastfeeding a child, you should wait until you are finished before scheduling a breast reduction.
Weight changes – We recommend that a woman maintains a stable weight for 12-18 months before considering breast reduction.
During the initial consultation with the plastic surgeon, the doctor will:
Go over your medical history and the procedure risks and benefits.
Discuss your expectations regarding breast appearance and size.
Conduct a physical examination and measure the breasts.
Take pictures of you for your medical record.
Order some baseline laboratory tests, and schedule a mammogram.
Before breast reduction surgery, you should:
Avoid taking anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, over the counter herbal supplements/vitamins, or blood-thinning agents for at least 2 weeks.
Stop smoking for 6 weeks.
Arrange to have someone bring you home from the surgical facility and help you for a few days after surgery.
Plan to be off from work or school.
Breast reduction surgery is performed with the patient under general anesthesia. You will be put to sleep so no pain is involved. The technique used to reduce the size of the breasts vary, but the surgeon usually makes an incision around the areola and down the breast. Glandular tissue, fat, and skin is removed from each breast. After all changes are made, incisions are typically closed with absorbable sutures. To support the healing tissues, a compression garment is placed on the patient.
After the Procedure
After breast reduction surgery, you can expect the following:
You are monitored in the recovery area for 30-45 minutes.
The breasts will be covered with bandages.
Your surgeon will prescribe pain medicine and an antibiotic.
You will have swollen, tender, and bruised breasts for 1-2 weeks.
You must wear the compression bra during the recovery period.
You cannot soak in a hot tub or sauna until all wounds have healed.
You will return to the surgical center in 3-7 days to have sutures removed and breasts inspected.
You cannot exercise or engage in rigorous activities for at least 4 weeks.
Results vary from woman to woman, but overall, most women are satisfied with the breast reduction surgery. In a recent outcome study, 93% of women reported improvement in breast appearance, and 85% reported improve posture and self-esteem.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons (2013). 14.6 Million Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Procedures Performed in 2012. Retrieved from: