Some women experience neck strain, headaches, aching shoulders, low back pain, chronic infections under the breast fold, and other problems associated with large breasts.
Whether you wish to alleviate those symptoms or reshape your breasts to make them more pleasing to you, breast reduction, also called reduction mammaplasty, can help. In fact, breast reduction surgery has one of the highest rates of satisfaction of all cosmetic surgery procedures. Many times, health insurance will cover this procedure if you meet certain criteria.
What to expect during a breast reduction
The procedure, which takes 3-4 hours, removes breast fat, glandular tissue, and skin to create a breast size that is proportionate to your body, alleviating the symptoms that cause pain and discomfort. This is procedure generally requires an overnight stay. It is likely that you will be given general anesthesia to put you to sleep during the procedure.
Recovery from breast reduction surgery
Because it is a major procedure, you can expect recovery to take some time. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication for the days immediately following the procedure. Swelling and minor bruising are normal, and this will generally subside in a few weeks. For a day or two after the surgery, you will wear a special surgical bra or elastic bandage. You will probably need to continue wearing the bra or bandage or another type of support bra for several weeks.
Your plastic surgeon will advise you to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activity for several weeks. You will also probably need a week to two weeks off of work after the procedure.
Breast reduction scars are permanent and will look pink for several months before fading. Your cosmetic surgeon will make the incisions so that you can wear low-cut tops and swimsuits. Certain scar therapies such as laser work well and may benefit you. Consult with your cosmetic surgeon to determine which techniques are available to minimize scarring if this concerns you.
Men who have enlarged breasts (a condition called gynecomastia), may be candidates for breast reduction surgery. In this procedure, your plastic surgeon will typically make an incision in a location that is barely visible and remove excess glandular tissue, fat, and skin. If it’s only fat that needs to be removed, the incision will be smaller because the doctor can do liposuction to remove the fatty tissue.
Your cosmetic surgeon can offer recommendations as to what type of procedure will work best for you. It is likely that the procedure will take 3-4 hours.
After the surgery, which will likely be performed as an outpatient procedure using a local anesthetic and sedation, you will be able to go home the same day. Your surgeon will likely recommend that you wear an elastic pressure garment for up to six weeks. In addition, you may need pain medication immediately after.
Recovery from breast reduction surgery
Swelling should begin to disappear in a matter of weeks and resolve completely in a few months. You can return to work within a couple of days of the surgery though your plastic surgeon will advise you to avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for up to six weeks.
Reconstruction after Breast Cancer | Pam's Story
Pam Vierra, a mother of three from central Pennsylvania, was diagnosed with breast cancer and decided to visit Johns Hopkins for a second opinion. She tells her story about her breast cancer treatment and breast reconstruction experience with the Johns Hopkins Breast Center and how it changed her life.
Our breast reduction surgeons
Clinical Director, Face Transplant Program, Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Transplant Center
Clinical Co-Director, Penile Transplantation, Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Transplant Center
Department Director of Patient Safety, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Associate Professor of Oncology
Co-Director, Johns Hopkins Facial Palsy Center
Director of Breast Reconstruction