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Breast reduction is a common surgical procedure. It is done to decrease the size of one or both breasts. While more common in women, this procedure can also be done in men.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
You may be asked to look through an album of breast sizes and shapes. This will help the doctor understand the outcome you desire.
Your doctor will likely do the following:
- Physical exam, including breast exam
- Blood tests
- Take "before" pictures
In the days leading up to your procedure:
- Arrange for a ride to and from the procedure.
- Arrange for help at home after the procedure.
- The night before, eat a light meal, and do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
- You may be asked to shower before your procedure. You may be given special antibacterial soap to use.
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines or herbal supplements up to one week before the procedure, like:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs (eg, aspirin )
- Blood thinners, like clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)
- Gingko biloba or other supplements
You may be given:
- General anesthesia —You will be asleep.
- Local anesthesia—The area will be numbed.
Description of the Procedure
The doctor will cut around the nipple and areola. Skin, fat, and breast tissue will be removed in a specific pattern. Depending on how much breast tissue is removed, the doctor may need to reposition the nipple and areola higher up on the remaining breast tissue. Liposuction , a vacuum procedure used to remove excess fat, may also be used. The amount of scarring will depend on the amount that the breast is reduced and the amount of repositioning required of the nipple and areola. The scarring can occur around the areola, around the areola, and down to the breast crease or around the areola, down to the breast crease, and along the breast crease.
Depending on the extent of operating required, the doctor may place a small flexible tube in one or both breasts to drain any fluid build-up during the early phases of healing. These drains may need to stay in place for several days. They can be removed in the doctor's office. You will not need a second surgery to remove them.
The cuts in the breast skin will be closed with tiny stitches.
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Immediately After Procedure
You will be tightly bandaged around your chest, or you will have a special surgical bra. These will provide pressure and support.
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during the surgery. You will have tenderness, swelling, and bruising of the breasts for several weeks after surgery. The pain can be controlled with pain medicines.
Average Hospital Stay
The hospital stay may be up to four days. It may be possible to leave the hospital or surgery center on the same day of the procedure. Speak to your doctor to see if this is an option in your case.
- Wear a special surgical bra that applies pressure. This will properly shape your breast(s) after the operation.
- If drains have been placed in either breast, they will be removed 2-4 days after surgery.
- Stitches are usually removed about 7-10 days after surgery.
- Absorbable sutures may also be used by your doctor; they do not need to be removed.
- Your doctor will probably advise you to avoid heavy lifting, straining, or strenuous exercise for the first week or two after surgery.
- Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions .
American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Canadian Society of Plastic Surgery
Guide to Breast Augmentation in Canada
Breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty). Mayo Clinic website. Available at:
. Accessed June 10, 2008.
Textbook of Surgery. 15th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Co.; 1997.
Textbook of Surgery. 17th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Co.; 2003.
Surgery of the breast. Principles and art. 2nd ed. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins 2005.