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What you need to know about breast reduction:
Breast reduction, or reduction mammaplasty, is surgery to make one or both breasts smaller. Extra fat, skin, and breast tissue are removed to decrease breast size and reshape the breasts. The breasts may also be lifted.
How to prepare for breast reduction:
Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He or she may want you to have a mammogram before surgery. Your provider will tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. He or she will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery. If you smoke, you may be asked to quit several weeks before surgery. This will lower your risk for complications. You may be given an antibiotic through your IV to help prevent a bacterial infection. Arrange for someone to drive you home and stay with you.
What will happen during breast reduction:
- You will be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Incisions will be made around the areola and down to the fold of your breast. The fold is the place under your breast where it joins your chest. You may need different incisions depending on the kind of surgery you have. Extra breast tissue, fat, and skin will then be removed. Your nipple and areola may be lifted. Your areola may also be cut to make it smaller. Your surgeon may separate your areola and nipple from your breast and position it higher on your breast. Liposuction may be used to remove extra fat from under your arm and improve the shape of your breast.
- Your incision may be closed with medical glue or tape. One or more drains may be placed to drain extra blood or fluid from your surgery area. Your wound will be covered with bandages and a support bra.
What will happen after breast reduction:
You will be wearing a support or compression bra. You may have discomfort in your chest area. You will need to move around or walk as soon as possible to decrease the risk for blood clots. You will have scars on your breasts once the incisions have healed.
Risks of breast reduction:
You may bleed more than expected or have trouble breathing. You may get an infection. You may have scars that become raised, wide, or red. Your breasts may look uneven in size. You may lose feeling in your breasts, and you may not be able to breastfeed. Even after breast reduction, your breasts may continue to change shape. You may need more surgery. You may get a blood clot in your limb. This may become life-threatening.
Call 911 if:
- You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
- You cough up blood.
- You have trouble breathing.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- Blood soaks through your bandage.
- You feel a lump under your skin that bulges out and does not go back in.
- Your shoulder, arm, or fingers feel numb, tingly, cool to touch, or look blue or pale.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- You have pain in your chest or armpit that does not go away, even after you take pain medicine.
- You have redness, pain, or pus in the area where the drain was inserted.
- Your incision drains blood, pus, or has a foul-smelling odor.
- You have nausea or vomiting.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Return to activity as directed. It may take up to 2 weeks before you feel ready to return to your usual routine.
- Wear a support bra as directed. This will help decrease pain. You may need to wear this support bra all or most of the day for up to 2 weeks after surgery. Do not wear underwire bras until your healthcare provider says it is okay.
- Do not do any strenuous physical activity. Do not lift, push, pull, or swing your arms. These activities can cause strain and pressure on your breasts and damage your surgery area.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause complications after surgery. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
Care for your wound as directed:
You may be able to shower 24 hours after surgery or as directed. Carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Dry the area gently. Check your incision wounds for redness or swelling.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You may need to return to have your wound checked or drains taken out. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.