Breast reduction, called reduction mammoplasty, is a procedure in which a plastic surgeon reduces the size of your breasts.
When is it used?
This operation is only done at your request to make your breasts smaller. The alternative to this operation would be to choose not to have treatment and accept your breasts as they are. You should ask your doctor about this choice.
It may help you to remember that although this operation can reshape your breasts, it may not change how you think of yourself or how others think of you.
You may have a strain in your back. This operation may relieve some discomfort and it may improve shoulder droop. It will not prevent or cure cancer in either of the breasts. It will not change inverted nipples. If your nipples and areolas (the pink circular area around the nipple) are moved, you may not be able to breast-feed an infant after this operation.
How do I prepare for a reduction mammoplasty?
Plan for your care and recovery after the operation. Allow for time to rest and try to find other people to help you with your day-to-day duties.
Follow instructions provided by the doctor. Eat a light meal, such as soup or salad, the night before the procedure. Do not eat or drink anything after and the morning before the procedure. Do not even drink coffee, tea, or water.
What happens during the procedure?
You are given a general anesthetic. A general anesthetic relaxes your muscles, makes you feel as if you are in a deep sleep, and prevents you from feeling pain.
The surgeon will make a cut around your nipple and the areola (the pigmented area around the nipple), extending to the underside of the breast. The surgeon will remove fat, breast tissue, and excess skin from the breast. The surgeon will move the nipple to a higher position on the breast. The procedure will then be repeated on the other breast.
What happens after the procedure?
You may be watched for awhile, and then you may go home when you have recovered from the first effects of the treatment. Occasionally, some women stay in the hospital overnight. For at least the next 2 or 3 weeks, your breasts may be swollen and bruised. It may be 2 or 3 months before you are completely healed.
Ask your doctor what steps you should take and when you should come back for a checkup.
What are the benefits of this procedure?
Your breasts will be smaller and less likely to strain your back. You may be happier about your appearance.
What are the risks associated with this procedure?
There are risks associated with general anesthesia. Discuss these risks with your doctor.
Your nipples and areolas may be numb.
Your nipple tissue may not receive enough blood and turn into scar tissue or die.
You may not be able to breast-feed, depending on the type of procedure you have, your age, and the condition of your breasts before surgery. There is a small chance you will be able to breast-feed, but it will be unlikely you will be able to give your baby enough milk. You will need to bottle-feed your baby in addition to whatever breast-feeding you are able to do. For more information about breast-feeding after this surgery, call:
Your nipples and areolas may be unequal in size, shape, and position.
Your breasts may be unequal in size, shape, position, and contour.
Your breasts may droop.
You may want further surgery to make the breasts similar or to lessen the scars or change the position of the nipple or areola.
Your arm and shoulder movements may be restricted or painful.
There will be permanent, noticeable scars where the nipples used to be and around the incision site.
The breast tissue may become infected or bleed.
You should ask your doctor how these risks apply to you.
When should I call the doctor?
Call the doctor immediately if:
You develop a fever, redness, or unusual drainage.
You have unusual or excessive swelling of the breast.
Call the doctor during office hours if:
You have questions about the procedure or its result.
You want to make another appointment.
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.