Steps and complications of breast reduction surgery

Steps and complications of breast reduction surgery

30th Jan 2018

If your breasts have become extra large and the condition is affecting your self-esteem and creating physical pain for you, you may consider breast reduction surgery. The procedure can effectively reduce the size of the breasts by removing the excess, skin, and fat from overly large breasts. As a result, the size of the breasts become smaller and the breasts look aesthetically welcoming.

Many patients are not aware of the steps of breast reduction surgery and the complications associated with it. It is important for the patient to with the plastic surgeon in advance of the intervention. Doing so will help the patient make a better decision. When you understand the complications and trauma involved in the procedure, you can easily make a risk/benefit analysis and make a judicious decision as to whether the intervention is right for you.

Breast reduction surgery

Breast reduction is an effective procedure that helps develop more balanced sized breasts and reduce or eliminate any pain associated with having very large breasts, such as neck, shoulder pain and backache. When you are aware of the surgery, you can make a good decision. Furthermore, being informed will help you prepare for the intervention and have a smooth and safe recovery.

There is no doubt that having overly developed breasts not only look aesthetically unpleasant but also triggers many physical problems for patients. To get rid of the condition, most women turn to breast reduction. After the procedure, their breasts not only decrease in size but the pain also lessens and their self-esteem gets a boost. It is important for patients to go armed with relevant questions to the pre-operative consultation. Do not forget to ask the surgeon what steps are involved in breast reduction and what are the complications of the surgery.

Consultation and preparation

Breast reduction is a long journey that kicks off with the consultation session and preparation for the intervention. Before the surgery, the patient is required to attend a pre-operative consultation session. It is important for the patient to go to a board-certified and experienced plastic surgeon for a consultation about breast reduction.

The plastic surgeon will examine your breasts and make a detailed assessment of your health and aesthetic goals. He will ask how the condition is affecting your life and what improvements you desire to achieve. You must discuss your goals and expectations clearly and frankly with the surgeon.

The doctor will also ask you about your health. Make sure to share your complete medical history with the surgeon. The surgeon will determine your candidacy for the intervention during the consultation session. If you are a good candidate, you will get a date for the surgery.

Before the surgery, you need to be fully prepared. Be sure to ask the surgeon what you need to do before the intervention. Make sure to prepare your home for your recovery, especially your bedroom. After the surgery, you will not be able to move around for several weeks. You should also stock up enough food supplies to last for a few weeks and arrange someone to take care of the household chores, your kids, and pets, if any.

Administering anesthesia

On the day of the surgery, the procedure will start with the administration of anesthesia. Breast reduction surgery is normally performed under general anesthesia; however, local anesthesia with IV sedation may also be used. Under general anesthesia, the patient goes to complete sleep. You will not feel any pain or discomfort during the surgery or make any movements. You will not remember what happens during the procedure. However, the use of anesthesia comes with minor side effects like sickness, vomiting, exhaustion, and nausea for a few hours or days after the intervention.

Making incisions

After the anesthesia has been administered, the plastic surgeon will make incisions on the breasts. Breast reduction surgery can be performed by using different incision techniques. The common ones include an anchor incision and a vertical incision. The anchor incision is placed around the areola and runs vertically downward the direction of the breasts and horizontally along the breast fold. On the other hand, the vertical incision starts in the areola border and runs vertically down the breast for decreased scars. These incision techniques leave a different level and visibility of scarring. The patient must discuss the incision types with the surgeon in advance of the intervention.

Removing the excess fat, glandular tissue, and skin

Using the incisions, the plastic surgeon will remove the extra fat, glandular tissue, and skin from the breasts. In some cases, the use of liposuction may also be necessary. If there is no major glandular tissue in the breasts, liposuction alone may be enough to remove the excess fat.

Repositioning the nipples

When the size of the breast is decreased, the nipples may start to point downward and look saggy. To overcome this problem, the plastic surgeon will reposition the nipples higher on the breasts. It will be made possible by removing the nipples entirely and grafting them at an elevated position where they look aesthetically appealing, perky, and youthful.

Closing the incisions

In the last step of the surgery, the plastic surgeon will suture and close the incisions. The suturing techniques and methods would be discussed with the patient during the pre-operative consultation.

Recovery and results

The patient will go through a complete recovery process after breast reduction surgery. The primary recovery will happen within the first two weeks, but full recovery will take six weeks. The results of breast reduction will gradually emerge. You will see the final results only when the post-operative swelling has completely subsided and the incisions have healed. The ultimate outcomes will evolve in the form of breasts that are decreased in size and create no physical and emotional pain for you. Your body will appear aesthetically appealing after the intervention.

Complications of breast reduction surgery

Breast reduction surgery is highly invasive and traumatic. It involves many risks and complications. The common risks and complications of the intervention include:


The procedure involves incisions, which makes you vulnerable to possible infections. When an infection happens, it can create additional problems, depending on its severity. To stay safe from infection, the surgeon may prescribe antibiotics. Be sure to take them on time and according to the doctor’s instructions. When severe infection occurs, you will be required to get IV antibiotics. You are more likely to get an infection if you have a poor immune system.

Wound opening and bleeding

After the surgery, there is a risk the incision may open up and result in bleeding. It is more likely when the patient is careless during the recovery period. If wound dehiscence occurs and results in bleeding, it can lead to slow and poor wound healing. Patients with diabetes and those taking blood-thinning medicines are more at risk of bleeding and incision opening.

Abnormal scarring

The incisions placed during the surgery will ultimately develop into scars. While most patients get normal scars, there is a risk your scars may become abnormal, raised, and appear swollen and more noticeable. To avoid abnormal scarring, do not expose the incisions to direct sunlight for six months after the surgery and avoid engaging in physical activities during the recovery period.

Seroma and hematoma

Seroma is a complication that happens when fluids discharged from the body get trapped under the skin. Hematoma happens when blood discharged from the incisions gets trapped and clots under the skin. To avoid this complication, drain cannulas should be used.

Other complications

Some patients who have allergy from anesthesia may experience anesthesia complications after the surgery. Also, you may experience a change or loss of breast sensation due to injury or damage to the nerves. Some patients can even be dissatisfied with the results of the surgery.


Breast reduction surgery is a major operation that is performed under general anesthesia. The procedure starts with the making of incisions on the breasts. The doctor then removes the excess skin, fat, and tissue from the breasts. The nipples will also be repositioned and the incisions will be sutured and closed.

The common complications of the surgery include infection, seroma, hematoma, change or loss of breast sensation, bleeding, wound dehiscence, and general dissatisfaction with the results. It is important for the patients to discuss the steps and complications of breast reduction with the surgeon during the pre-operative consultation.

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