Breast reduction and the risk of developing breast cancer

Breast reduction and the risk of developing breast cancer

24th Nov 2019



A vast majority of women are resorting to breast augmentation with implants each year to get the breasts of their dreams. Breast augmentation is among the top two most performed plastic surgery procedures worldwide, so it is understandable why most people find it difficult to believe and understand the reasons why some women choose to have the exact opposite procedure performed, which is breast reduction surgery. 

It might seem like a joke that some women choose to reduce the volume of their breasts while so many others are looking for solutions to get more volume in their breasts. However, the consequences of having overly large breasts can be very far from a blessing in some cases. There are multiple inconveniencies to say in the slightest associated with naturally large breasts. The daily struggles and discomforts caused by the excessive size of the breasts can only be fixed when the volume is reduced with the help of plastic surgery. When the overly large volume of the breasts becomes an issue difficult to manage and causes permanent discomfort and pain, the patient is advised to consider breast reduction surgery. There are different risks associated with any type of surgical procedure, and many patients want to know if there is any connection between breast reduction surgery and the risk of developing breast cancer. 


Overly large breasts

Hypertrophy of the breasts is characterized by the excessive growth of the mammary tissue leading to excessively large breasts. Aside from an increase in the volume of the breasts, the breasts can also get a saggy appearance due to the intense pressure put on the ligaments that sustain the mammary gland and also the skin envelope of the breasts that is very delicate and sensitive. In other words, we can say that breast hypertrophy is often associated with breast ptosis in many patients. 

Aside from being an aesthetic issue, overly large and saggy breasts can also be the cause of different health complications. Women with overly large breasts often suffer from constant and persistent pain in the shoulders, neck, and back. This pain is difficult to alleviate without the help of medication, and even so, it will occur again due to the pressure the volume of the breasts puts constantly on the spine. Breast hypertrophy can occur at different ages; however, when it occurs at a very young age on a patient that is yet to complete physical development, it can lead to deformations of the spine that can be very difficult to correct later on in life. Overly large breasts in young patients can also lead to a more sedentary lifestyle that could in turn lead to obesity or weight gain. 

Women with a large volume of the breasts can also have difficulties in finding or would have to pay more for clothes that fit. This might seem like a trivial issue compared to permanent deformations of the spine, but they all add together, and all these discomforts, physical and emotional, could significantly put a strain on the quality of life of the patient. This is the reason why if the patient is confronted with a severe case of breast hypertrophy, the recommendation is to undergo breast reduction surgery as soon as possible. 


Overview of breast reduction surgery

Just like any other plastic surgery procedure performed on the breasts, a responsible plastic surgeon will tell you about how aging, ulterior pregnancy, and weight fluctuations will affect the results of the procedure. During the pre-operative consultation when you meet the plastic surgeon for the first time to discuss breast reduction surgery, make sure to bring all your concerns and worries to the table. Also, tell the plastic surgeon whether you plan to have more children in the future and if you are happy with your current weight. If your breast hypertrophy is not overly severe and you plan to get pregnant soon in the future, the plastic surgeon might advise you to postpone the procedure. At the same time, if you are suffering from gigantomastia, the surgeon might advise you to have the procedure done as soon as possible.

The techniques and procedures used for breast reduction nowadays vary depending on the size and shape of the breasts and also the excess of glandular tissue that needs to be removed. The incisions are often positioned around the areola, from the areola to the fold under the breasts, and even in the inframammary fold in some cases. The incisions can have an L or inverted T shape, depending on the experience of the plastic surgeon and the anatomical characteristics of the patient. 

The procedure can take less than two hours, but when combined with other procedures such as liposuction, tummy tuck, etc., the operating time can increase considerably. General anesthesia is preferred for this procedure, and the patient is free to go home after waking up from the effects of the anesthesia if no complications occur. 

The recovery period after breast reduction surgery is often no longer than two weeks post-op. During this time, the patient needs to avoid lifting heavy objects from the floor and performing intense physical activities. Moreover, sleeping on the tummy is contraindicated for a minimum of three weeks post-op, and the same goes for smoking that could lead to delayed wound healing and other complications that could otherwise be avoided. Wearing a special post-op bra or a good quality sports bra can enhance the results and help you have a faster and smoother recovery period. 


Breast reduction surgery and breast cancer

Breast reduction surgery is indicated for women who suffer due to issues caused by the excessive volume of the breasts. In terms of the risks associated with the procedure, these are similar to any other type of surgical procedure. The patient can experience fluid or blood accumulation close to the incision site, excessive bleeding, delayed wound healing, adverse reactions to the anesthesia used, as well as unsatisfactory aesthetic results such as slight asymmetries. Keep in mind that the aesthetic results can be refined with an additional procedure while some of the risks and complications can be prevented by following the pre- and post-operative recommendations of the plastic surgeon.

By removing the excess mammary gland tissue, we achieve a harmonious and comfortable volume of the breasts, aside from an elevated position on the chest wall and a fuller shape. Aside from these benefits, you can achieve better symmetry between the breasts and correct other imperfections but also reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. 

Many patients are wondering whether undergoing breast reduction surgery can increase their chances of getting breast cancer. The reality is that it is the other way around. Because we eliminate some of the tissue where the cancer forms, we are reducing the chances of the patient developing breast cancer. This doesn’t mean that patients who had breast reduction surgery will never develop breast cancer; just that the risks are reduced with the excision of glandular tissue. This is important to keep in mind and discuss with the plastic surgeon during the pre-operative consultation. It is important to understand all aspects associated with the procedure to feel at ease to undergo the procedure and confident that the results are going to be spectacular.



Breast reduction surgery is a procedure performed on women who are struggling with the excessive volume of their breasts on a daily basis. These women might decide to resort to plastic surgery as they have difficulties in finding suitable clothing and lingerie that would fit their breasts. Moreover, there are various health conditions associated with having breasts that are too large compared to the rests of the patient’s anatomy, including something as severe as permanent deformations of the spine. 

The procedure is performed frequently in the United States and all over the world and is in no way associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer. The reality is that the risks are even reduced as we eliminate a part of the tissue where the cancer might form. There are other risks associated with undergoing this procedure that patients should be aware of before scheduling their procedure, but breast cancer is not among them.

Make sure to get all the details of the procedure before going through with it if you want to achieve the best results possible and minimize the pre-operative anxiety and the postoperative stress. 

Share this article: