Frequently Asked Questions

Q1- What is breast reduction surgery?

A- Breast reduction surgery, also called reduction mammaplasty, is a cosmetic surgery procedure in which excess breast tissue is removed to resize and reshape the breasts. In most cases, breast reductions are performed to provide relief from the pain and physical restrictions endured by women with oversized, heavy breasts.

Q2- Am I a candidate for breast reduction surgery?

A- Women with large, disproportionate breasts who are afflicted by pain, discomfort, and embarrassment due to their breast size may be good candidates for breast reduction surgery. Ideal candidates for breast reductions are women who are also not currently pregnant or breastfeeding and do not plan to breastfeed in the future.

Q3- What does a typical breast reduction consultation entail?

A- First, your doctor will discuss your goals with you and explain what can realistically be achieved. A surgeon should take into account your hip size when determining your new breast size. Removing too much breast tissue will make your hips look large by comparison, giving you a pear shape.
Prior to your breast reduction surgery, a complete medical history is taken to evaluate the general health of the patient. The breasts are then examined thoroughly to determine the most effective surgical approach. The surgeon will go over the anesthesia to be used, the procedure, what results might realistically be expected and possible risks and complications.
Mammograms or x-rays may be taken along with preoperative photographs. Preoperative instructions often include the elimination of certain drugs containing aspirin for several weeks before surgery to minimize the possibility of excess bleeding. Birth control and other estrogen containing hormones may also be discontinued temporarily (depending upon the individual). Antibiotics, pain relievers and other medications may be prescribed a few days prior to your surgery for your convenience so you'll be completely prepared with no excess worry.
You may also be instructed to have blood tests performed, this all depends upon the surgeon's requirements.

Q4- Where the incisions are made, and are there any visible breast reduction scars?

A- Incisions are usually made within the natural folds under the breasts, sometimes around the areolae, and in a line from the crease to the areolae. Some procedures require only a keyhole incision (LeJour lift). The surgery is not a minor one and breast reduction scars should be expected. Unnecessary scarring is generally avoided. Discuss with your doctor his or her incision placement of choice, and why, and remember to get several opinions.

Q5- What is the breast reduction recovery period like?

A- Breast reduction surgery recovery will require the constant use of a surgical bra for several weeks. During the first few weeks following breast reductions, breasts may be swollen and bruised. The swelling may cause a temporary loss of sensation in nipples and breast skin.

Q6- When can I return to work and exercise?

A- Although your chest may be sore, you can resume light activities within a few days following breast reduction surgery. In order to help the healing process, routine physical activity and exercise should be avoided for at least 6 weeks after breast reductions. It is very important to avoid lifting and pushing or pulling motions, you should not bend over, lift your arms over your head during this period.
Because sexual arousal could cause incisions to swell, creating the possibility of delayed healing; sexual activity should be avoided for at least a week after breast reduction surgery.
Since there are various surgical techniques used in breast reductions and individual circumstances vary, it is important to get specific instructions from your breast reduction surgeon regarding returning to work and physical activity after breast reduction surgery.

Q7- What are the benefits associated with breast reductions?

A- There are two major benefits of breast reduction surgery: relief from pain and increased personal satisfaction with appearance. Many women have breast reductions because their oversized breasts cause back, neck, and shoulder pain and limit their physical activities. Women also seek breast reduction surgery to obtain breasts that are more proportionate to their frames.

Q8- What risks and complications are involved?

A- Breast reduction complications may include issues that are common potential problems for all surgery: bleeding, infection, hematoma, adverse reactions to anesthesia, and scarring. Specific potential breast reduction surgery risks are asymmetrical breasts, uneven nipples, altered or loss of breast sensation, and the inability to breastfeed.

Q9- What type of scarring should I expect?

A- Scarring and its potential complications keep many women from getting breast reduction surgery.
With various techniques for breast reductions, there are several possible scarring patterns. Traditional breast reduction surgery will produce anchor-like scars that will extend around the nipple, down the middle of the breast, and under the breast.
Vertical incision breast reductions tend to create shorter scars which also circle the nipple and extend vertically down the breast, but do not continue under the breast.
"Scarless" breast reductions through liposuction usually only leave minor scars that are typically left under the breast fold. (It is important to note that although this procedure seems to be an optimal procedure for women trying to avoid scarring during breast reduction, especially African American women prone to keloid scarring, liposuction breast reductions may not be a good option for women with breasts larger than size DD.)
It is not wise to avoid breast reduction surgery because of possible scarring since the benefits of breast reductions tend to outweigh the appearance of scars. Also, scars from breast reductions tend to fade over time and can usually be hidden under bras or bathing suit tops.

Q10- How long do the results of breast reduction surgery last?

A- Once breast reduction surgery is performed; breasts will remain smaller than they would be if the procedure had never been performed. However, patients who gain weight, become pregnant, or take hormones after breast reductions may notice an increase in breast size due to a natural increase in breast tissue. Also, the effects of aging and gravity may cause breasts to sag over time.

Q11- How Soon After Childbirth Can I Have a Breast Reduction?

A- You cannot undergo general anesthesia, or take any medications, while you are breast feeding. Also, it takes about six weeks for your breasts to reach their stable size and weight after you stop breast feeding. After this, you may undergo Breast Reduction. However, make sure that you are not planning further pregnancies in the near future.

Q12- Is There A Minimum Age for Breast Reduction?

A- It is recommended that you don’t have breast surgery until you have reached adulthood and until after your breasts have stopped growing. Exceptions may be made for girls who have a rare and extreme kind of breast overgrowth known as "virginal hypertrophy". These girls develop gigantic breasts during adolescence that become a physical and psychological problem for them. After having undergone reduction mammoplasty during adolescence, these girls often have further Breast Reduction surgery at a later age when their breast size stabilizes.

Q13- Does Breast Reduction Surgery Affect the Ability to Breastfeed?

A- As a rule, Breast Reduction will reduce your ability to breast feed. However, this can depend on the type of Breast Reduction that is performed. This will definitely be the case where the areola and nipple have been detached, and grafted back onto the breast.
With the "nipple pedicle" technique, the nipple-areolar complex is kept attached to its roots, therefore lessening the chance of damage to the milk ducts. But even with this technique you can lose your ability to breast feed because a considerable amount of glandular breast tissue has been removed.

Q14- Will I Need a Mammogram Prior to Breast Reduction?

A- Yes. Your cosmetic surgeon may recommend a "screening" mammogram prior to your surgery, depending upon your age, or family history of breast cancer. This will help detect questionable breast areas that can possibly be evaluated or biopsied at the time of your Breast Reduction surgery.
You will also be asked to have another mammogram several months following your surgery as a "baseline" for future mammograms. Additionally, breast exams and mammography may be easier to perform following Breast Reduction. Smaller lumps may be harder to detect in women with very small lesions, but will appear more readily once the breast size has been reduced.