Breast reduction surgery or reduction mammaplasty is a procedure to remove excess breast fat, tissue, and skin from the breasts. If you have large breasts (macromastia), you might choose to have breast reduction surgery to alleviate discomfort and to achieve a breast size proportionate to your body.
Disproportionately large breasts can cause both physical and emotional distress for patients. Patients with macromastia may experience physical discomfort resulting from the weight of their breasts. The resulting pain can make it challenging for some patients to perform common physical activities. Along with the physical ailments of macromastia, some patients may suffer from emotional distress or more significant mental health problems as a result of their large breasts.
Although a breast reduction is often performed to address medical issues, patients who do not have the symptoms of macromastia but are unhappy with the size of their breasts can still pursue breast reduction as an aesthetic procedure.
It is also important to note that this surgery isn't just for women, either. Men who have conditions such as gynecomastia (where male breasts are enlarged abnormally) also may seek a breast reduction. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there are more than 20,000 breast reduction procedures in men.
Photos before and after breast reduction
Who is a candidate for breast reduction surgery?
Breast reduction surgery is meant for women who have large breasts and want to resolve issues such as:
- Chronic back, neck and shoulder pain that requires pain medications
- Chronic rash or skin irritation under the breasts
- Nerve pain
- Restricted activity
- Poor self-image related to large breasts
- Difficulty fitting into bras and clothing
Breast reduction surgery generally isn't recommended if you:
- Have uncontrolled medical co-morbidities
- Are very obese
- Want to avoid scars on your breasts
What are the risks of breast reduction surgery?
Possible breast reduction surgery risks include:
- Unfavorable scarring
- Changes in nipple or breast sensation, which may be temporary or permanent
- Anesthesia risks
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Blood clots
- Poor wound healing
- Breast contour and shape irregularities
- Skin discoloration, permanent pigmentation changes, swelling and bruising
- Damage to deeper structures—such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles and lungs—can occur and may be temporary or permanent
- Breast asymmetry
- Fluid accumulation
- Excessive firmness of the breast
- Potential inability to breastfeed
- Potential loss of skin/tissue of breast where incisions meet each other
- Potential, partial or total loss of nipple and areola
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Pain, which may persist
- Allergies to tape, suture materials and glues, blood products, topical preparations or injectable agents
- Fatty tissue deep in the skin could die (fat necrosis)
- Possibility of revisional surgery
How do you prepare for breast reduction surgery?
Our plastic surgeon will likely:
- Evaluate your medical history and overall health
- Discuss your expectations for breast size and appearance after the surgery
- Provide a detailed description of the procedure and its risks and benefits, including likely scarring and possible loss of sensation
- Examine and measure your breasts
- Take photographs of your breasts for your medical record
- Explain the type of anesthesia used during surgery
How long is the recovery for breast reduction surgery?
- You will need to take at least one to two weeks off from work or school for breast reduction surgery.
- You also need to stop physical activities for at least one month after surgery