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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.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • 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.

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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.