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Breast Reduction

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I 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 do I 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.

What are the 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.

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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Further information

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