Breast Reduction Surgery


Breast reduction is a type of surgery which is also called reduction mammoplasty. Fat, tissue, and skin are removed from the breasts to make them look smaller. The size of the areola (dark skin around the nipple) can be reduced. And the nipple may also be moved higher on the breast. This post explains the procedure and what to expect.

Preparing for breast reduction surgery

Prepare for the surgery as you have been directed. In addition:

• Tell your doctor about any recent health conditions and all medicines you take which include herbs and other supplements. It also includes any blood thinners, such as warfarin, clopidogrel, or routine aspirin. You may need to limit taking some or all of them before surgery.

• Follow any instructions you are given for not eating or drinking before surgery.

• Do not smoke before surgery. Your doctor may delay your surgery if you are smoking. Smoking lowers the blood flow in the skin and nipples and increases the risk of wound-healing complications.

The day of  breast reduction surgery

The surgery lasts for about 3 to 6 hours. You may be allowed to go home the same day or you may stay overnight.

Before the breast reduction surgery begins

• An IV line is put into a vein in your arm or hand and this line delivers fluids and medicines.

• You will be given medicine to make you free from pain during surgery. This can be general anaesthesia, which puts you in a state of deep sleep. (A tube can be inserted into your throat to enable you to breathe.) Or you may be sedated, which makes you relaxed and sleepy. If you have sedation, local anaesthesia will be injected into the surgery site to numb it. The anesthesiologist will brief you about your options.

During the breast reduction surgery

• The doctor makes one or more incisions in your breast. Incisions are mostly made around the areola but extend to under your breast as well. You and your doctor will have discussed incision sites before the surgery.

• The doctor removes fat, tissue, and skin from the breast. In some situations, fat is removed using liposuction. This entails inserting a cannula (hollow tube) into the breast. A special vacuum drains fat through the cannula.

• If needed, the areola and nipple are removed and placed higher on the breast. To decrease the size of the areola, excess skin is removed. The areola is then stitched (sutured) into place.

• The procedure is also repeated on the second breast.

• The incisions are closed with sutures (stitches), surgical glue, or both. A tube (drain) may be positioned into the incisions before they are closed. This drains excess fluid as the wound starts to heal.

After the breast reduction surgery

You will be taken to a resting room to wake up from the anaesthesia. You may feel sleepy and nauseated and if a breathing tube is used, your throat may become sore at first. You will be given medication to reduce the pain. When you’re set, you will be able to go home with an adult family member or friend or you may be moved to a room to stay overnight.

Recovering at home

Once home, follow any directives you are given. Your doctor will tell you when you can return to your daily routine. During your recovery:

• Take any prescribed medicines exactly as instructed.

• Wear the special bra or the bandage you were given before discharge as directed by your doctor.

• Care for your incisions and the dressing (bandage) over them as instructed by your doctor.

• Follow your doctor’s guidelines for showering. Don't swim, take a bath or do other activities that may cause the incisions to be covered with water until your doctor says it’s okay.

• When you shower, gently wash your incision areas. Then pat the incisions dry. Don’t apply lotions, oils, or creams to the incisions until after they are completely healed.

• Don’t raise your arms higher than breast level for 10 days. And don’t lift, push, or pull things heavier than 10 pounds for 7 days at least.

• Don’t drive until you are no longer taking prescription pain medicine and your doctor says it’s OK. When riding in a car, carefully place the seatbelt so that it doesn’t compress your breasts.

• Know that breast swelling may last for 3 to 5 weeks. If advised by your doctor, use a cold pack wrapped in a thin towel to ease discomfort and control swelling. It’s vital not to leave the cold pack on for too long, or your skin can be damaged. Put the pack over your bandages for not more than 20 minutes at a time. Then, leave it for at least twenty minutes. Repeat this as often as required during waking hours until swelling starts to get better. Don’t fall asleep with the cold pack on. If you’re not sure how to safely use the cold pack, ask your doctor.

When to call your healthcare provider

Ensure you have a contact number for your doctor. After you get home, call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

• Extreme chest pain or trouble breathing (call emergency)

• A fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your doctor

• Bleeding or drainage from the special bra or bandage

• Symptoms of infection at an incision region, such as more redness or swelling, warmth, worsening pain, or foul-smelling drainage

• Pain that is not calmed by medicine or pain that gets worse

• Much more soreness, swelling, or bruising on one breast than the other

• Breast that is warm to the touch


You will have follow-up visits so your doctor can see how well you’re healing. If required, stitches or drains will be removed at one of these visits. If you have any questions or worries about your recovery, let your doctor know.

Risks and complications of breast reduction surgery

• Bleeding or infection

• Blood clots

• Excessive internal or external scarring

• Breasts that are asymmetric (not the same shape and/or size)

• Breasts that are too firm

• Changes in breast or nipple sensation (temporary or permanent)

• Damage to nerves, muscles, or blood vessels

• Persistent pain

• Death of fat cells deep in the skin

• Inability to breastfeed

• Not happy with the cosmetic result

• Risks of anaesthesia. The anesthesiologist will discuss these with you.


DisclaimerThe information provided herein is for patient general knowledge only and should not be used during any medical emergency, diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Duplication for personal and commercial use must be authorized in writing by

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