Find out more about this surgery to remove fat, breast tissue and skin from the breasts.
Breast reduction surgery, also known as reduction mammaplasty, removes fat, breast tissue and skin from the breasts. For those with large breasts, breast reduction surgery can ease discomfort and improve appearance.
Breast reduction surgery might also help improve self-image and the ability to take part in physical activities.
If you're thinking of breast reduction surgery, talk to a board-certified plastic surgeon. It's important to understand what's involved with breast reduction surgery, including possible risks and complications. It's also important to know what the surgery can and can't do.
Breast reduction surgery is meant for people who have large breasts that cause the following:
Breast reduction surgery generally isn't recommended for people who:
You can have breast reduction surgery at any age — sometimes even as a teenager. But breasts that aren't yet fully grown might need a second surgery later in life.
Reasons to postpone breast reduction surgery include:
Breast reduction surgery has the same risks as other major surgeries — bleeding, infection and a bad reaction to the anesthesia. Other possible risks include:
Your plastic surgeon will likely:
Planning breast reduction surgery might require:
Usually, you can go home the day of the surgery. Arrange for someone to drive you home from the hospital.
Breast reduction surgery is usually done under general anesthesia, either in a hospital or outpatient surgical center.
The method used to reduce the size of your breasts can vary. The process might include:
The surgeon usually:
The nipple and the area around it usually stay attached to the breast. For very large breasts, the surgeon might need to remove them and add on a new nipple.
Your surgeon will try to make your breasts look alike, but breast size and shape might vary somewhat. The size of the areola also might be smaller. The incision scars will fade over time, but they won't completely go away.
Immediately after surgery:
For the first days or week after surgery:
Scarring fades over time. You will need a follow-up visit with your surgeon to check your recovery.
The typical anchor-shaped incision in breast reduction surgery allows the surgeon to remove excess breast tissue, fat and skin and raise the nipple and areola, as shown on top. After the excess tissue is removed, the surgeon brings the skin underneath the breast together with stitches, as shown at bottom.
Successful breast reduction surgery can relieve pain in the upper back, neck and shoulders. It might also increase the ability to take part in physical activities and promote a better self-image.
Results will show right away, but it can take months for the swelling to completely go down and the surgical scars to fade. The final result generally lasts a long time. But aging, changes in weight, pregnancy and other factors can change breast shape and size.