Introduction Many people think breast reduction surgery is a straightforward procedure that does not involve any trauma. But the fact is that breast reduction is a major and highly invasive operation. And just like other invasive procedures, there are certain vital things patients need to take into account before deciding to go under the knife. Breast reduction is used to decrease the size and weight of overly large breasts. Even though the procedure has a history of safety and delivering effective outcomes, it is not free of risks. It is essential that patients must do their research and undergo the operation only when the benefits are more than the risks. Below are some essential things you must be aware of before deciding to get the surgery: You have to meet specific eligibility requirements First off, a board-certified plastic surgeon will not let you undergo breast reduction surgery unless you meet certain eligibility requirements. Not all women can get breast reduction surgery because you have to be a good candidate to undergo the operation. The first requirement is that you must be seeking the procedure for genuine reasons. The surgeon will examine your breasts during the pre-operative consultation and ask you as to what problems you are experiencing due to overly developed breasts. Secondly, he will assess your overall health to make sure you are not suffering from health issues that may trigger life-threatening risks during or after the surgery. Thirdly, the surgeon will evaluate your goals to check whether they are realistic, reasonable, and achievable. Moreover, the doctor will check your BMI, and if it has been 25 or less for about two years, you may qualify for the operation. Additionally, if you are a smoker, you will be required to stop smoking at least two weeks before the surgery and avoid smoking throughout the recovery process. You won’t necessarily go down ‘alphabetically’ Many women assume that after breast reduction surgery, their breasts will lose a cup size. For example, they often think that if they are a D, they will go down to a C. It is easy to imagine this but not easy to achieve with breast reduction. Even though sharing your idea of losing a cup size with your plastic surgeon is good, you need to have realistic expectations and be flexible in your imaginations about what you can achieve. It is not easy to predict a change in your cup size with breast reduction surgery. Keep in mind that your cup size is not as crucial in achieving the desired improvements as attaining symmetry and balance in your breasts and overall figure and getting rid of the physical discomforts you are experiencing. You will feel pain during the recovery, but it is not intolerable After breast reduction surgery, you may experience some pain and discomforts; however, the pain is not severe in most cases. Depending on your pain tolerance level, you can feel mild to moderate pain that will subside within a few days. Also, you can cope with the pain by taking oral antibiotics recommended by your plastic surgeon. You’ll need six weeks to recover entirely Your plastic surgeon can tell you best as to how much time you need to take off work for your recovery after breast reduction surgery. Most patients are required to take two or three weeks off work. The primary recovery period comprises the first two weeks, but complete recovery can take up to six weeks. After the procedure, your breasts will be swollen due to the incisions and surgical trauma. It is crucial for the patient to take rest and avoid physical activities for six weeks. The incisions require six weeks to heal. Also, more than 60 percent of the swelling will subside by the end of the sixth week. The good news is that the results will be prominent by this time and the physical discomforts associated with overly large breasts will alleviate. You’re not getting breast reduction for your ‘dream’ breasts The primary reason for undergoing breast reduction surgery is to reduce or eliminate the physical pain and discomforts like neck and back pain that are linked with excessively large breasts. Enhancing the aesthetic appearance of the breasts is a secondary goal. There is no doubt that overly large breasts look aesthetically unpleasant. Breast reduction surgery can improve the cosmetic appearance of your breasts, but you should not expect to get the breasts of your dreams with it. Instead, your primary goal should be alleviation of the pain resulting from enormous breasts. However, if your surgeon is board-certified and has extensive experience in breast surgeries, he will use specific specialized techniques to enhance the shape of your breasts besides reducing them. If you also have cosmetic goals and expectations from the operation, you must discuss it with the plastic surgeon during the pre-operative consultation and ask as to what aesthetic improvements you can expect to achieve with breast reduction. You might experience a change or loss of your natural nipple sensation Breast reduction surgery, like all other invasive procedures, is a major operation. The plastic surgeon will make incisions on your breasts and remove the excess fat, glandular tissue, and skin. The surgery involves trauma, which means you will be exposed to different risks during and after the procedure. One of the dangers you will be exposed to is change or loss of nipple sensation. This change or loss happens due to injury or damage of the nerves in the breasts. Fortunately, most cases of change or loss of nipple sensation are temporary. The injured nerves will regenerate and heal, which can then help you regain your natural breast sensation. However, it takes many weeks and even months for patients to recover their natural nipple sensation. In rare cases and where the damage done to the nerves is severe, the condition will be permanent. It can impact your ability to breastfeed Breast reduction surgery involves tampering with your glandular tissues and milk ducts. It even requires removal of the excess epithelial tissue. The operation is traumatic and invasive, which exposes you to the risk that you may experience a change in or loss of your ability to breastfeed. For example, your milk production may decrease after breast reduction surgery. However, it depends on the extent of the operation and the experience of your plastic surgeon. During the surgery, the tissue is split, which means a decrease in your milk production capability. In most cases, patients return to their natural milk production capacity and can breastfeed after some months when the tissue heals. It is for this reason that women are advised to get breast reduction only when they are done with having children. Insurance may not cover breast reduction Breast reduction is mostly undertaken for medical purposes than cosmetic purposes. Since overly large beasts create physical pain for the patient, your insurance company may cover all or more of the expenses; however, there is no guarantee. You should discuss the operation and the insurance coverage factor both with your plastic surgeon and with your insurance company before deciding to go under the knife. You may have to lose weight before getting a breast reduction If you are obese or overweight and want to get the breast reduction, the plastic surgeon may wish for you to first lose weight to a certain degree and then consider getting the surgery. The plastic surgeon will take your BMI into account and then tell you whether you should lose weight before the surgery. Other procedures can be combined with breast reduction surgery Many patients who want to get breast reduction also have aesthetic shortcomings or flaws in other areas of their body. In such a case, the procedure can be combined with other plastic surgery procedures. For example, if your breasts are excessively large and there are stubborn fat pockets in the localized areas of your body like the abdomen, sides, and flanks, you may consider combing a breast reduction with liposuction. Doing so will help you achieve not only smaller breasts but also correctly contoured body areas. Conclusion Breast reduction is a plastic surgery procedure that has a history of effectively reducing excessively large breasts and removing the physical and emotional pain linked with the condition. The procedure involves removal of the excess fat, glands, and skin from the breasts. Unfortunately, many women who want to get the surgery fail to do their research and hence are not able to make an informed decision about the operation. In this article, I have discussed the most important things to be aware of before getting breast reduction.