Frequent questions before undergoing a breast reduction

Frequent questions before undergoing a breast reduction

01st Dec 2019



Overly large breasts are often associated with different health issues. The excessive volume of the breasts is not necessarily an aesthetic issue as very large breasts can be considered sexy by some, but it can be a health issue as the woman confronted with this can have difficulties in performing different tasks, including most physical activities. Overly large breasts can also be associated with an excess of weight, and there is a simple explanation behind this. If physical activities trigger a considerable discomfort and even pain for some women with this issue, a normal response from the patient would be to avoid them, and the lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain and even obesity over time. 

There are different health conditions associated with overly large breasts. A deformation of the spine that can become permanent, dermatological conditions on the inframammary fold, and difficulties in breathing are just a few of the conditions that can be experienced by women with overly large breasts. To alleviate the pain and discomfort and to prevent different health conditions from becoming chronical, breast reduction surgery can be performed. 

While each patient is different and has different concerns about breast reduction surgery, there are a few questions that we come across rather often.


  1.   Is breast reduction surgery painful?

Some patients postpone or avoid breast reduction surgery as they fear the procedure is very painful. Of course, there is a certain level of pain and discomfort that will be experienced by the patient after undergoing this procedure, but this is the case with any other surgery. Breast reduction surgery is a complex procedure that entails multiple incisions on the breasts and the sectioning of all the tissues of the breasts: skin, fat tissue and mammary gland. However, sectioning these tissues often results in much less pain compared to when the procedure targets the muscles. 

Breast reduction is not a very painful procedure. Patients who have undergone it mention a discomfort for a few days post-op, but nothing overly intense. There will be no pain to be experienced during the operation as the procedure is performed with the patient under general anesthesia. When waking up, the patient can return home, but she will be prescribed analgesic medication, as well as antibiotics to prevent infections.

If intense pain occurs within the first week after breast reduction surgery and you notice other symptoms such as high fever, pus coming from the incision site, and redness in the area, contact your plastic surgeon and go to the hospital as you might have developed an infection and this needs immediate treatment. Experienced plastic surgeons will prescribe antibiotics for five days post-op especially with the aim to avoid infections from occurring. 


  1.   Will I get breast cancer after breast reduction surgery?

When it comes to most procedures performed on the breasts, including breast reduction surgery, some patients will want to know whether the procedure increases the risks of developing breast cancer. This concern is somehow explained by the concerns we’ve had for years about the use of breast implants. Numerous studies have shown that implants are safe to be used and they have no connection with the occurrence of breast cancer. However, when it comes to breast reduction surgery, things are a bit different. We are not inserting an external prosthesis inside the breasts, and we are taking out a part of the mammary gland. What does this mean? Breast cancer occurs in the glandular tissue. If we remove a part of it, we reduce the tissue that can be affected by cancer. So, breast reduction surgery technically reduces the risks of developing breast cancer by removing a part of the tissues where the cancer develops. There is no reason why breast reduction surgery can be associated in any way with the occurrence of cancer.  


  1.   What happens during the breast reduction procedure?

Breast reduction is a complex procedure. It is performed with the patient under general anesthesia, and in some cases, liposuction can be performed in combination with the procedure to reduce the thickness of the adipose layer in the surrounding areas of the breasts to achieve better aesthetic results. The plastic surgeon will start the procedure with liposuction, if this is the medical indication. After this, incisions are made on the breasts to allow the surgeon access to the tissue of the mammary gland. Incisions are positioned around the areola, from the areola to the fold in between the breasts and in the inframammary fold. After the incisions are made, the skin is detached from the glandular tissue. In the next stage, the plastic surgeon will remove a part of the mammary gland. In some patients, we are talking about a few hundred grams from each breast, while for other patients the amount of glandular tissue to be removed is more than the quantity of mammary gland. 

After the plastic surgeon removes the same amount of glandular tissue from both breasts, the incisions are sutured and compressive bandages are applied to the surgical incisions. A special post-op bra will be put on, and the patient is advised to wear it non-stop for a minimum of three weeks after the surgery. The bra can be taken off when showering and replaced with a clean one. 


  1.   How long will it take to recover?

After the procedure, the patient is moved to the recovery room where she will spend a few hours until making a complete recovery from the effects of the general anesthesia. The patient can leave the medical facility on the same day if no complications occur. The recovery period starts at home and is no longer than two weeks for most patients. During the first-week post-op, patients can resume most of their daily activities, provided they don’t include physical efforts. The recommendation is to avoid intense physical activities for a minimum of six to eight weeks post-op, or according to the plastic surgeon’s instruction.

The plastic surgeon will ask to see you for follow-up consultations regularly. The first consultation is the next day or in the next two days post-op. The second meeting with the plastic surgeon is a week from the surgery, then a month, three months, and six months after the procedure.

While the breasts are reduced and the results are obvious in terms of the reduction of the breasts, the final results can be assessed after a minimum of three months as this is when the side effects such as swelling and bruising will subside. 


  1.   What can I do if I am not satisfied with the results?

Even before undergoing breast reduction surgery, some patients fear to achieve unsatisfactory results. While it is never a good idea to focus on the negative, it is important to know what the options are if unsatisfactory results are achieved. Depending on the nature of the results, there are multiple options for patients. If we are talking about unsatisfactory results such as asymmetries on the breasts, a revision surgery can be performed. If the breasts are still too big even after breast reduction, the plastic surgeon can further reduce their dimensions in another procedure. If the breasts are too small, the patient can choose to have implants inserted or resort to fat transfer. To minimize the risks of achieving unsatisfactory results, make sure to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon to play out your procedure. 



Breast reduction surgery is recommended and performed on patients confronted with an excess of the mammary gland. This makes the volume of the breasts too large compared to the patient’s anatomy, and it can cause different health conditions that can affect the quality of life of the patient. The procedure is performed on patients with mammary hypertrophy, and the procedure can take up to a few hours. In some cases, liposuction will be performed with breast reduction, but all the details of the procedure will be discussed in detail with the plastic surgeon during the pre-operative consultation. 

It is always a good idea to ask as many questions as necessary to make you feel in control and ready to undergo the procedure, so don’t hesitate to discuss all your concerns with the plastic surgeon. In this article, we have discussed some of the frequent questions patients ask before undergoing a breast reduction.

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