Breast reduction surgery is usually done under general anesthesia, either in a hospital or outpatient surgical facility.
During the procedure
The specific technique used to reduce the size of your breasts may vary. Generally, the surgeon makes an incision around the areola and down the breast. Excess breast tissue, fat and skin are then removed to reduce the size of each breast.
In most cases, the nipple and areola remain attached to the breast. If your breasts are very large and droopy, however, your nipple and areola might need to be removed and then reattached at a higher position on your breast as a skin graft.
After the procedure
Your breasts will be covered with a gauze dressing or bandages. A tube might be placed under each arm to drain any excess blood or fluid. Your surgeon will likely prescribe medication for pain as well as antibiotics to decrease your risk of infection.
For the first days or week, your breasts will probably feel tender and sensitive. They might also be swollen and bruised. Your surgeon might recommend an elastic compression bra initially to protect the breasts.
You'll need to limit physical activity for two to four weeks while the breasts heal. Your surgeon also may recommend avoiding underwire bras for a month after surgery.
Scarring usually fades over time. You will need a follow-up visit with your surgeon to remove stitches and check your recovery.
Sept. 10, 2014
- AskMayoExpert. What does surgical breast reduction involve and why is it done? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Neligan PC. Plastic Surgery. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier Saunders; 2012. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 16, 2014.
- Kalliainen LK. ASPS clinical practice guideline summary on reduction mammoplasty. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2012;130:785.
- Nguyen JT, et al. Long-term satisfaction of reduction mammoplasty for bilateral symptomatic macromastia in younger patients. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2013;53:112.
- Thibaudeau S, et al. The effects of breast reduction on successful breastfeeding: A systematic review. Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery. 2010;63:1688.
- Kerrigan CL, et al. Evidence-based medicine: Reduction mammoplasty. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2013;132:1670.
- Breast reduction procedural steps. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/reconstructive-procedures/breast-reduction.html?sub=Breast+reduction+procedural+steps. Accessed July 17, 2014.
- Singh KA, et al. Additional benefits of reduction mammoplasty: A systematic review of the literature. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2012;129:562.
- Golden AK. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 9, 2014.