What you can expect

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 can vary. The procedure might include:

  • Surgery through incisions
  • Liposuction to remove the excess fat in your breasts

The surgeon usually:

  • Makes an incision around the areola and down each breast
  • Removes excess breast tissue, fat and skin to reduce the size of each breast
  • Reshapes the breast and repositions the nipple and areola

The nipple and areola:

  • Usually remain attached to the breast
  • Might need to be removed and then reattached at a higher position as a skin graft if your breasts are very large

Your surgeon will try to achieve symmetry between your breasts, but some variation in breast size and shape might occur. The size of the areola also might be reduced. Your incision scars might fade over time but will never completely disappear.

After the procedure

Immediately after 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
  • You likely will take medication for pain and antibiotics, to decrease your risk of infection

For the first days or week after surgery:

  • Your breasts will probably feel tender and sensitive
  • Your breasts might be swollen and bruised
  • Your surgeon might recommend an elastic compression bra to protect the breasts

After that:

  • You'll need to limit physical activity for two to four weeks while the breasts heal
  • Your surgeon might suggest avoiding underwire bras for a few months after surgery

Scarring usually fades over time. You will need a follow-up visit with your surgeon to remove stitches and check your recovery.

Nov. 18, 2017
References
  1. Townsend CM Jr, et al. Plastic surgery. In: Sabiston Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice. 20th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2017. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 6, 2017.
  2. Hansen J, et al. Overview of breast reduction. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed July 6, 2017.
  3. AskMayoExpert. Breast reduction. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
  4. Ortiz-Pomales YT, et al. Reduction mammoplasty and breast cancer screening. Clinics in Plastic Surgery. 2016;43:333.
  5. Brown AY. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 18, 2017.