Reduction mammoplasty; Reduction mammaplasty
Breast reduction is surgery to reduce the size of the breasts.
Breast reduction surgery is done under general anesthesia. This is medicine that keeps you asleep and pain-free.
For a breast reduction, the surgeon removes some of the breast tissue and skin. Your nipples may be moved higher to reposition them for cosmetic reasons.
In the most common procedure:
The procedure can last 2 to 5 hours.
Breast reduction may be recommended if you have very large breasts (macromastia) and:
Some women may benefit from non-surgical treatments, such as:
Risks of anesthesia and surgery in general are:
Risks of this procedure are:
Tell your health care provider:
The week or two before surgery:
On the day of surgery:
You may have to stay overnight in the hospital.
A gauze dressing (bandage) will be wrapped around your breasts and chest. Or, you will wear a surgical bra. Wear the surgical bra or a soft supportive bra for as long as your surgeon tells you to. This will likely be for several weeks.
Drainage tubes may be attached to your breasts. These tubes will be removed within a few days.
Your pain should decrease in a few weeks. Take pain medicine to control it. Be sure to take the medicine with food and plenty of water. DO NOT apply ice or heat to your breasts unless your doctor has told you that is ok.
Within a few weeks, the swelling and bruising around your incisions should disappear. You may have a temporary loss of sensation in your breast skin and nipples after surgery. Sensation may return over time.
Follow any other self-care instructions you are given.
Schedule a follow-up visit with your surgeon. At that time you will be checked for how you are healing. Sutures (stitches) will be removed if needed. Your provider will discuss special exercises or massaging techniques with you.
You are likely to have a very good outcome from breast reduction surgery. You may feel better about your appearance and be more comfortable with various activities.
Pain or skin symptoms, such as striation, may disappear. You may need to wear a special supportive bra for a few months to reshape your breasts.
Scars are permanent. They will be more visible for the first year, but will then fade. The surgeon will make every effort to place the cuts so that scars are hidden. Cuts are usually made on the underside of the breast. Most of the time, the scars should not be noticeable, even in low-cut clothing.
Fisher J, Higdon KK. Reduction mammoplasty. In: Neligan PC, ed. Plastic Surgery. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 8.1.
Last reviewed on: 3/13/2015
Reviewed by: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.