Ahmet R. Karaca, MD

Ahmet R. Karaca, MD

Heavy, oversized breasts may cause back and shoulder pain, as well as create a disproportionate silhouette and cause skin irritations. One breast may also be noticeably different in size compared to the other. If you suffer from any of these problems, a breast reduction may provide some relief. 

What is Breast Reduction?

Breast reduction is a procedure that removes excess tissue from one or both breasts to create a smaller, more proportionate breast size. The procedure does not correct sagging, and while the results are permanent, patients may experience an increase in breast size as gravity, hormonal changes, and aging take effect. Breast reduction can be performed on younger women if their breasts cause them pain and discomfort, but it’s ideal that patients wait until they’ve reached the age of 17 and their breasts have fully developed.

This procedure is designed to restore confidence in women who feel self-conscious and aid in the persistent pain and chronic rashes often associated with having large breasts. In addition to decreasing the weight and volume of the breasts, breast reduction also molds the breast into a firmer, more youthful shape.

Benefits of Breast Reduction

Disproportionately large breasts can detract from a woman’s self-esteem, causing her to feel self-conscious and insecure about her body image. The weight of overly large breasts may also cause long-term health concerns, such as thoracic kyphosis, a painful condition that alters the curvature of the spine and makes it difficult to breathe.

Most women undergo breast reduction surgery to reshape their breasts and alleviate many of the problems that result from having large breasts. Smaller breasts allow patients permanent relief from the back, neck, and should pain that often accompanies larger breast sizes.

The health and emotional problems associated with larger breasts can also affect some men who may choose to undergo male breast reduction surgery, also known as gynecomastia.

Reasons for Having Breast Reduction Surgery

Breast reduction has one of the highest satisfaction rates of any surgical procedure, and there are many reasons women decide to have the surgery, including:

  • Improving physical comfort by reducing neck and back pain, skin irritations, and posture problems
  • Reducing shoulder indentation marks that result from the constant pulling of the bra straps due to weight
  • Increased participation in physical activities
  • Avoiding the embarrassment of ill-fitting clothes and overall disproportion associated with larger breasts

The Breast Reduction Procedure

Breast reduction surgery is performed under general anesthesia and usually takes three hours to complete. During the procedure, excess breast tissue is removed from the breast, and the areola is reduced in size before moving the nipple to a higher position on the chest. The operation always includes a lift as well, because of the design.

There are a variety of methods to approach breast reduction, and the procedure is individualized based a patient’s anatomy, desired outcome, and the doctor’s preferences. The most common breast reduction technique uses an anchor incision, which is a three-part incision featuring one cut around the areola, one vertically down the breast, and a final beneath the breast along the fold.

Breast Reduction Recovery

After three days, the dressings will be removed, and patients are permitted to shower. After one week, if the patient’s work involves non-strenuous activities, it can be resumed at this time. The breasts will continue to appear bruised, swollen, and general discomfort will remain for up to three weeks; patients should continue wearing their post-operative support bra during this time.

Mild to moderate physical activities can be resumed after several weeks, and nipple sensation will return to normal over time. The final appearance of the breasts may not be apparent for several months, as the breasts take time to settle, and surgical scars continually fade.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are results permanent?

The results of breast reduction surgery are generally permanent. However, fluctuations in weight, aging, pregnancy, and other hormonal changes can alter the size and shape of the breasts throughout the patient’s life.

What kind of scarring can be expected?

Breast reduction typically leaves patients with permanent, visible scarring. The standard scarring follows the pattern of the anchor incision during the procedure, but it is usually hidden under the bra. Breast reduction surgery produces different scars that may be a combination of thin, flat, raised, thick and/or pigmented depending on a patient’s genetics.

Is the nipple completely removed during reduction?

The nipple is rarely removed during breast reduction surgery.  The nipple retains its dermal blood supply while it’s moved to a higher position, and the surrounding excess breast tissue is removed and tightened. The procedure involves the partial removal of breast tissue and a combined breast lift, but the nipple is largely left attached to the breast during surgery.

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