Skip to Content

Breast Reduction


Breast reduction, or reduction mammaplasty, is surgery to make one or both breasts smaller.


The week before your surgery:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • Tell your caregiver if you know or think you might be pregnant.
  • You may need to have blood and urine tests, a mammogram, a chest x-ray, and other tests. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

The night before your surgery:

  • You may be given medicine to help you sleep.
  • Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your surgery:

  • Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Caregivers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.
  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
  • While you are sitting or standing, healthcare providers will measure and make marks on your breasts. These marks show where incisions will be made during surgery. If your nipple and areola are to be moved, this will also be marked.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.


What will happen:

  • Healthcare providers will make incisions around the areola and down to the fold of your breast. The fold is the place under the breast where it joins to the chest. You may have more incisions depending on the kind of breast reduction you have. Extra breast tissue, fat, and skin will then be removed. Your nipple and areola will be lifted. Your areola may also be cut to make it smaller. If your breasts are very large, your healthcare provider may completely separate the areola and nipple from the breast and position it higher on the breast. Liposuction may be used to remove extra fat from under your arm and improve the shape of your breast.
  • Stitches will be used to close the incisions and shape the breast. A piece of mesh may also be placed inside the incision for support before closing it. Thin rubber tubes may be put into your skin to drain blood or fluid from your incisions. The wound will then be covered with bandages to help shape and support your breasts.

After surgery:

You are taken to a room where your heart and breathing will be monitored. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. A bandage may cover wounds to help prevent infection. You may be able to go home after some time passes. An adult will need to drive you home and should stay with you for 24 hours. If you cannot go home, you will be taken to a hospital room.


  • You cannot make it to your appointment on time.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have an infection or wound near the area where surgery will be done.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You feel a lump in your breast or underarm.
  • You have fluid draining from your nipple.
  • You have redness, swelling, or severe pain in your breast.


  • You may bleed more than expected or have trouble breathing. You may get an infection. You may have scars, and 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 get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This can cause pain and swelling, and it can stop blood from flowing where it needs to go in your body. The blood clot can break loose and travel to your lungs. A blood clot in your lungs can cause chest pain and trouble breathing. This can be life-threatening.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.