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.
The procedure may be done to correct:
After the surgery, your breasts will be smaller and more symmetrical in appearance. They should reflect the size, shape, and symmetry you desired.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
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:
You may be given:
The area around the nipple and areola will be cut. Skin, fat, and breast tissue will be removed in a specific pattern. Depending on how much breast tissue is removed, the nipple and areola may need to be repositioned 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 reposition 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.
You will be tightly bandaged around your chest, or you will have a special surgical bra. These will provide pressure and support.
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.
The hospital stay may be up to 4 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.
Right after the procedure, you will be in a recovery room where your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing will be monitored. Recovery may also include:
During your stay the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection, such as:
When you return home:
It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
A Guide to Breast Augmentation in Canada
Breast reduction. Smart Beauty Guide—The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery website. Available at: http://www.smartbeautyguide.com/procedures/breast/breast-reduction. Accessed September 5, 2017.
Breast reduction. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.plasticsurgery.org/reconstructive-procedures/breast-reduction. Accessed September 5, 2017.
Breast reduction. Brigham and Women's Hospital website. Available at: http://www.brighamandwomens.org/Departments_and_Services/surgery/services/PlasticSurg/cosmetic-procedures/breast/breast-reduction.aspx. Updated August 1, 2016. Accessed September 5, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD Last Updated: 9/8/2014