Breast Reduction

Breast reduction (also called reduction mammoplasty) is surgery to reduce the size of your breasts. To do this, a surgeon removes fat, tissue, and excess skin. There are some common reasons for reduction mammoplasty. In some people, large breasts contribute to poor posture or chronic neck and back pain. Sometimes a rash develops under the breasts. Large breasts can also make it difficult to exercise. Before the procedure, you and your surgeon will decide on a new size and shape for your breasts. The surgery usually takes 2–4 hours.

After breast reduction, your breasts will be smaller. This should make movement easier.


  • Any allergies you have.

  • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.

  • Previous problems you or members of your family have had with the use of anesthetics.

  • Any blood disorders you have.

  • Previous surgeries you have had.

  • Medical conditions you have.

  • Any recent colds or fevers you have had.


Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, as with any procedure, complications can occur. Possible complications include:

  • Excessive bleeding.

  • Blood clots in your legs or lungs.

  • Pool of blood forming near the wound (hematoma). This is caused by a broken blood vessel.

  • Infection.

  • Total or partial loss of feeling in your breasts or nipples. Discuss this with your surgeon before the surgery.

  • Damage to the dark area around your nipple (areola).

  • Loss of ability to breastfeed.

  • Pneumonia. This is a risk with many surgeries.


  • Ask your health care provider about changing or stopping any regular medicines. Make sure you know when to stop taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), vitamin E, and herbal supplements. These can increase your risk of bleeding during surgery.

  • Do not eat or drink anything for at least 8 hours before your surgery. Ask your health care provider about taking a sip of water with any approved medicines.

  • Quit smoking. Smoking makes healing more difficult. It also makes scarring more likely.

  • If you are older than 35 years, your surgeon might want you to have mammography before surgery.

  • You might be asked to shower with an antibacterial soap before coming in for the procedure.

  • Arrange for someone to drive you home.


  • An IV access tube will be placed in one of your veins. You will be given medicine to make you sleep (general anesthetic).

  • Cuts (incisions) will be made on your breasts.

  • The surgeon will first remove fat, tissue, and excess skin. Then the surgeon will reshape your breasts. Your nipples might be removed, and then replaced, when the reshaping begins.

  • The incisions will be closed with many tiny stitches.

  • The surgeon may place small tubes under your skin to allow the wound to drain for a few days. You will be taught how to care for the drains.

  • At the end of the surgery, your breasts will be bandaged securely with gauze and elastic bandages. This will protect your breasts for the first few days and promote healing.


  • You will be taken to a recovery area. There, your recovery with be monitored. Your heartbeat, breathing rate, temperature, and blood pressure (vital signs) will be checked.

  • If you had outpatient surgery, you will be able to go home when you are stable and able to drink fluids. If you had inpatient surgery, you will be taken to your room.

  • You might be given a special bra to wear while your breasts heal.