Woman arching back to relieve a sore back. She might be comtemplating breast reconstruction surgery


Six things to know about breast reduction surgery

  • Breast reduction surgery removes excess skin and breast tissue to achieve a breast appearance in proportion with your body and to alleviate discomfort that can come with having large, heavy breasts.
  • During the procedure, skin and breast tissue is removed and your nipple is repositioned higher on your chest.

If you or a loved one is considering breast reduction surgery these facts will help you better prepare for a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon.

1. Will I have scars after surgery?

All surgeries leave scars. However, there are many different ways to perform a breast reduction procedure, so it is important for you to talk to your plastic surgeon about the where your scars may be located. My goal is to make your scars inconspicuous and easily covered by clothing (or a bathing suit). I use a technique in which scars are located around your nipple, straight down to the fold beneath your breast and in the breast fold itself. Scars are the shape of a keyhole or anchor. Once completely healed, scars will be visible only when your breasts are uncovered. There are procedures that leave less scarring, but in my opinion, once healed these procedures do not always give you a natural breast shape.

2. Will I lose sensation in my nipples?

Ten to 15 percent of patients experience some change in sensation to the breast, including a loss of nipple sensation. Although rare, complete loss of nipple sensation can occur due to nerve injury. This may interfere with sexual arousal and breast-feeding.

3. What are the risks of breast reduction surgery?

There are risks with any surgery. Although rare and uncommon  risks with breast reduction surgery include infection, excessive bleeding, abnormal scarring, poor or slow healing, skin loss or changes in skin sensation and muscle or nerve injury or loss of a nipple. Fortunately, most complications can be corrected with additional surgery. It’s important to talk with your surgeon so you completely understand your risks of complications before breast reduction surgery. There are many different ways to perform a breast reduction procedure. Talk to your plastic surgeon about the pros and cons of their chosen technique.

4. How old do I have to be to have breast reduction surgery?

Breast development can continue into your early 20s. When breast reduction surgery is done before this time, there is a chance your surgery will need to be repeated. In addition, it may be emotionally difficult to adjust to the surgery during teen years. For these reasons, many insurance plans will not cover the cost of breast reduction if you are younger than 18. 

5. How long must I wait after breastfeeding before I can have breast reduction surgery?

I recommend waiting at least six months after breastfeeding before having breast reduction surgery. This is due to an increased risk of blood and/or milk collections and to allow your breasts to stabilize in size once they are no longer producing milk.

6. Will breast reduction surgery increase my risks of breast cancer?

Breast reduction does not increase your risk of developing breast cancer. All breast surgery can interfere with the interpretation of mammograms. Keeping this in mind, when you do have a mammogram, be sure to tell the physician or the radiology technician that you have had breast reduction surgery, so they can do extra views, if necessary.



Share this article


Beyond the Pap test: 10 questions women in their 20s and 30s should ask at their next checkup

Continue reading


Get fun, inspiring, provider-reviewed articles sent to your inbox.

Sign up for our email newsletter