Breast Reduction

Breast Reduction

Breast reduction is designed to reduce the size of a woman’s breasts. It may also improve the overall appearance or shape of the breast and help balance breast asymmetries. It helps in treatment of physical complaints such as neck, shoulder, and back pain experienced by many women with large breasts.

Skin, along with breast tissue and fat, are removed to create smaller, shapelier breasts.  An added benefit where ptosis (droop) exists is a simultaneous uplift of the nipple areolar complex to a more normal position. The areolae (darker skin which surrounds the nipple) may also be reduced in size and made more symmetric.

Who is a Candidate for a Breast Reduction?

  • Patients who want smaller breasts
  • Patients with extensive breast asymmetry
  • Healthy patients without breast cancer
  • Patients who have realistic expectations about the procedure
  • Patients who will tolerate breast scars
  • Patients who complain of chronic neck, shoulder, and back pain from excessive breast size
  • Patients with large breasts who experience chronic skin irritation along their bra straps and under the breast folds

Intended Results of a Breast Reduction

  • Smaller breast size
  • Improved breast shape

Procedure Description for Breast Reduction

  • Breast reduction is performed in an accredited outpatient surgical facility,  or in the hospital under general anesthesia, or conscious sedation with local anesthesia.
  • Depending on several factors, breast reductions are performed using surgical techniques that preserve breast tissue and maintain a healthy blood supply to the nipple-areola complex.
  • Various external skin envelope closures exist, which will determine the placement and size of your postoperative scars (talk to your cosmetic surgeon).
  • A drain may be inserted at the time of surgery.
  • Breast tissue is always submitted to pathology for examination after it has been removed, even if pre-operative mammography and ultrasound are normal.  

Recuperation and Healing for Breast Reduction

  • Postoperative discomfort is controlled with oral medications.
  • Surgical drains may be present after the surgery. Your cosmetic surgeon will determine when these are to be removed (most commonly the drains stay in only for 24 hours and are removed the day after your surgery, during your post-operative visit)
  • A special postoperative support bra may be worn after surgery for a few weeks (this may be different for every surgeon).
  • Postoperative care the first night is most commonly at home with a responsible adult, an overnight care facility, or very rarely in the hospital (if a patient has significant risks which require observation during the first 24 hours).
  • The patient will be seen the next day for post-operative checkup.
  • Most sutures are internal and do not need to be removed.  Depending on the surgeon’s technique, there may be some sutures, which will stay in place for 1-2 weeks and then will be removed during your post-operative visit when your surgeon deems it appropriate.
  • Light activity may usually resume in less than 7-10 days. Sports activities may be resumed in 3-4 weeks or longer (depending on your surgeon’s advice).

Other Options for Breast Reduction

  • Breast volume reduction by breast fat liposuction-liposculpture
  • Breast contouring using breast skin resection with or without liposculpture


The specific risks and suitability of this procedure for a given individual can only be determined at the time of consultation with your cosmetic surgeon. All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Minor complications that do not affect the outcome occur occasionally. Major complications are rare.


Reviewed by Victoria Karlinsky-Bellini, MD, FACS of