Breast Reduction


Average Treatment Cost
Procedure Time
2-5 hours
Usually outpatient
Recovery Time
2-4 weeks return to work; 4-6 weeks to resume strenuous activity
Duration of Results

What you should know

What Is Breast Reduction?

Naturally large breasts can not only hinder your self-esteem and put limits on your clothing choices, but they can also create medical problems like back issues, neck pains and rashes under the breast. In some cases, women who have breasts that are too large for their body often experience irreversible grooves and indentations on their shoulders from their bra straps—the breasts are so heavy that the straps literally dig into the skin to create much-needed support.

If you’ve always been bothered by a chest that’s too large, a breast reduction is the only permanent way to reduce the size of your chest. Minimizing bras may help decrease how large the breast looks, but it won’t do much, physically, to the breast. Whether you choose to make a dramatic change, and reduce your bra size by a few cups, or you’re just looking to go a bit smaller, breast reduction surgery offers up the best results for those who have big, heavy breasts. Keep in mind that once the surgery has been performed, the only way you can make your breasts larger (should you decide to) is with implants. Since weight gain can, in some cases, affect your result, it’s important that you’re at a stable weight before having the procedure.

Who Should Consider Breast Reduction

Women who want to reduce their large, heavy breasts that may or may not be causing physical issues such as back pain.


Who Should Not Consider Breast Reduction

Women with small breasts or women who are not willing to undergo surgery.

What to Expect With Breast Reduction

Prior to surgery, your doctor will mark your breasts, chest and incision points. During the procedure, an incision will be made around the areola and down the front of the breast, and excess fat, tissue and skin will be removed from the lower part of the breast. Once the incision has been made, the nipple, which remains connected to its original blood and nerve supply, is repositioned.

If necessary, excess skin is excised from the areola, making it proportionate to the new breast. Even though there will be some swelling and you’ll be wearing a support bra, you’ll immediately be able to see a difference after surgery. 

A breast reduction is more than removing excess tissue and fat. The breast itself needs to be sculpted into a smaller shape. The techniques and incision patterns used are essentially the same as those used in a breast lift. Incisions include all, or any combination of:

  • Concentric or donut-shaped around the areola
  • Vertically down from the areola to the breast crease
  • Horizontally at the breast crease
  • Breast fat and tissue are removed through these incisions.

The results of breast reduction are seen and felt immediately. Remember, breast reduction is major surgery and all the recovery considerations and cautions mentioned for breast augmentation apply. Keep in mind that skin and breast tissue that has been thinned and stretched from the weight of the breast is at increased risk for raised, wide or irregular scars.

Post-Treatment Care: Breast Reduction

Sleep on your back in a reclining position for the first few days following your breast reduction surgery. During recovery, follow all instructions for proper breast support, including sleeping in your support bra if instructed. A cotton bra that closes in the front may be the most comfortable. Do not wear underwires until your plastic surgeon gives you the green light. Long-term support is essential for the well-being and longevity of your new breast appearance.

Start walking around and doing light activity as soon as possible, but avoid pushing, pulling, lifting, twisting and strenuous exercise until your plastic surgeon gives you the go-ahead.

About three to five days after your surgery, your stitches (and if your doctor placed tubes for any excess fluid to properly drain) will be removed. Even though your scars will fade over the next few months to a year, they will always be visible to some degree. It may take from six to 12 months before your breasts are fully settled.

Inside Tips: Breast Reduction

After breast reduction, significant weight gain or loss and pregnancy can affect breast size and the results of your surgery. From a quality of life perspective, the psychological impact of breast reduction can be life-altering. A whole new world of clothing and lingerie options opens up for a woman who has been hiding under baggy tops for years.

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