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Breast Reduction


  • Breast reduction, also called reduction mammaplasty, is surgery women have to make one or both breasts smaller. It may be done to relieve symptoms or problems caused by large breasts. These problems may include back pain, skin rash under the breasts, and pressure marks caused by large bra straps. Having large breasts may also limit a woman's ability to do some activities and decrease her self-confidence. With breast reduction, some of your breast tissue, fat, and skin may be removed. This may be done with open surgery alone or combined with liposuction. The type of breast reduction to be done depends on how much breast tissue will be removed, how your breasts look, and other factors.
  • Breast reduction may be done for any woman who wants to have smaller breasts. Women should consider having this surgery after their breasts are already fully developed. After surgery, the size and shape of your breasts may be affected by pregnancy, lactation (breast milk production), or changes in your body weight. You and your caregiver will decide if breast reduction surgery is right for you.
    Picture of a normal breast



  • Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Ask your caregiver when you should return to have your wound checked, drains taken out, or stitches removed.


  • Avoid doing activities where you are lifting, pulling, or pushing. You may also need to stop playing sports for some time.
  • When sleeping, avoid lying on your side to decrease pressure on your breasts.
  • Your caregiver may want you to wear a support bra for some time. This may make you more comfortable and ease your pain.

Breast exams:

Do a monthly breast exam on your breasts. If you are having monthly periods, do it 2 or 3 days after your period ends. If you have gone through menopause (change of life), check your breasts on the same day each month. You may also need to have a mammogram taken regularly. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to do a breast exam and when to have a mammogram.

How to perform a breast self-exam while lying down
Picture of three patterns to correctly perform breast self-exam

Wound and drain care:

When you are allowed to bathe or shower, carefully wash the incisions with soap and water. Afterwards, put on clean, new bandages. Change your bandages every time they get wet or dirty. Always check your drains when changing your bandages. Do not pull the drains out. Ask your caregivers for more information about incision (wound) care and drain care.


  • You have a fever.
  • You have discharge or pain in the area where the drain was inserted.
  • You have nausea (upset stomach) or vomiting (throwing up).
  • Your bandage becomes soaked with blood.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery, illness, or medicine.


  • You feel something is bulging out into your chest and not going back in.
  • You have pain in your chest or armpit that does not go away even after taking pain medicines.
  • Your incision has blood, pus, or a foul-smelling odor.
  • Your shoulder, arm, or fingers feel numb, tingly, cool to touch, or look blue or pale.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
  • You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.