What you can expect

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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    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

    After breast reduction surgery, 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. During the initial recovery period, your breasts will probably feel tender and sensitive. They might also be swollen and bruised. Be careful to avoid excessive force or movement while you're healing.

    As your recovery progresses, be prepared for lingering pain in or around your breasts and numbness around your nipples. Some women also experience itchiness. Scarring is permanent but usually fades over time.

    Talk to your surgeon about when your dressings or bandages will be removed, when — or if — your stitches will be removed, and when you can return to your regular activities.

    Oct. 08, 2011

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