Breast reduction is a common surgical procedure. It is done to decrease the size of one or both breasts. While more common in women, this procedure can also be done in men.
Reasons for Procedure
After the surgery, your breasts will be smaller and more symmetrical in appearance. They should reflect the size, shape, and symmetry you desired.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a breast reduction, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
You may be asked to look through an album of breast sizes and shapes. This will help the doctor understand the outcome you desire. Computer software may also be used to help you determine your desired result.
Your doctor will likely do the following:
In the days leading up to your procedure:
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications or herbal supplements up to one week before the procedure, like:
You may be given:
Description of the Procedure
The doctor will cut around the nipple and areola. Skin, fat, and breast tissue will be removed in a specific pattern. Depending on how much breast tissue is removed, the doctor may need to reposition the nipple and areola higher up on the breast tissue. Liposuction, a vacuum procedure used to remove excess fat, may also be used. The amount of scarring will depend on the amount that the breast is reduced and the amount of repositioning needed to the nipple and areola. The scarring can occur around the areola, down to the breast crease, and along the breast crease.
Depending on the extent of operating required, a small flexible tube may be placed in one or both breasts to drain any fluid from the early phases of healing. These drains may need to stay in place for several days. They can be removed in the doctor's office. You will not need a second surgery to remove them.
The cuts in the breast skin will be closed with tiny stitches.
Immediately After Procedure
You will be tightly bandaged around your chest, or you will have a special surgical bra. These will provide pressure and support.
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during the surgery. You will have tenderness, swelling, and bruising of the breasts for several weeks after surgery. The pain can be controlled with medications.
Average Hospital Stay
The hospital stay may be up to four days. It may be possible to leave the hospital or surgery center on the same day of the procedure. Talk to your doctor to see if this is an option for you.
Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occur:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
Guide to Breast Augmentation in Canada
Breast reduction. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery website. Available at: http://www.surgery... . Accessed August 28, 2013.
Breast reduction. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.plastic... . Accessed August 28, 2013.
Breast reduction. Brigham and Women's Hospital website. Available at: http://www.brigham... . Accessed August 28, 2013.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD