Temporary side effects of reduction mammoplasty

Temporary side effects of reduction mammoplasty

11th Aug 2019



If your breasts have enlarged and the condition is affecting your physical and emotional health, it is time you should consider undergoing reduction mammoplasty. The breasts become overly large as a result of the excess glandular tissue and fat in the breasts. It can happen due to genetic factors and considerable weight gain. During reduction mammoplasty, the plastic surgeon will reduce the breast size by removing the excess fat and tissue from the breasts.

The procedure involves incisions and tampering with your breast tissues. This makes the surgery traumatic. The procedure entails many side effects, most of that are temporary. If you want to get this surgery, you should make sure to discuss the side effects and risks of the operation with the plastic surgeon. Gaining an understanding of the side effects can help you make a rational decision about whether to undergo surgery. 


Temporary side effects of the surgery

Many people assume that reduction mammoplasty is a simple procedure that does not entail any side effects. However, the fact is that it is a major operation that comes with many risks and side effects. It is vital for the patient to understand the risks and side effects so that the surgery and recovery can be smooth and safe. 

The operation is carried out under general anesthesia. The surgeon will then make incisions on the breasts and then remove the excess fat, glandular tissue, and skin from the breasts. As a result, your breast size will decrease. The side effects will kick in the right after the procedure and stay with you for many weeks and even months. 

The temporary side effects can also differ from patient to patient, depending on the patient’s health, the plastic surgeon’s experience, and the care taken during the recovery period. However, there are also specific side effects that affect all patients who get reduction mammoplasty. Below are the temporary and common side effects of the operation.


Numbness in the breasts

After reduction mammoplasty, you may feel that your breasts have become numb, or you may experience a change in your breast sensitivity. This is a normal side effect of the procedure. The surgery involves incisions on the breast skin. The nerves responsible for maintaining your breast sensation are located in the skin. The incisions may injure the nerves, which can cause your breasts to become numb or have a change of sensation. This is a normal side effect in most cases. The condition will remain with you for many weeks and even months.

During your recovery period, the injured nerves will regenerate and heal. As they heal, you will feel an improvement in your breast sensation. When the nerves heal completely, the numbness in your breasts will disappear and your natural breast sensation will return. But in rare cases where the damage done to the nerves is severe, the numbness or change in breast sensation can be permanent. 


Tenderness and pain

Reduction mammoplasty is a traumatic operation. It involves incisions and tampering with your muscles, tissue, and skin. As a result, you may experience some level of pain and discomfort in your breasts. Typically, the pain ranges from a mild to moderate degree. However, it also depends on your pain tolerance level. Some patients experience a lower level of pain whereas those with little tolerance may experience severe pain.

The pain after the surgery is a temporary side effect. Most patients overcome the pain within 24-72 hours after the surgery. The plastic surgeon will recommend you to take painkillers to cope with the pain. However, in rare cases, the pain may prolong or intensify. If this happens, it is an indication of an underlying complication like an infection. If the pain does not lessen and instead continues and becomes severe, you should see your surgeon as soon as possible. 


Post-operative swelling

Since the surgery involves incisions and removal of tissue and fat from the breasts, your body will react against this trauma by creating swelling at the surgery site. The swelling is a temporary and regular side effect. It shows that your body is working to overcome the trauma and heal the incisions. The swelling will stay with you for the weeks and months following the operation.

The post-operative swelling will slowly subside. The results of the procedure will not be noticeable entirely unless the swelling has disappeared. In rare cases, the swelling may persist for longer and even expand beyond the surgery area. If this happens, you must contact your surgeon immediately because it may be a sign of a problem like an infection. 


Vomiting, sickness, or nausea

Reduction mammoplasty is performed under general anesthesia. Many people vomit or experience sickness and nausea after the surgery. It happens because of the effects of the anesthesia or as a result of anesthesia reaction. These are also temporary side effects of the operation. In the days following the surgery, you will start to feel better. The sickness and vomiting will end, and you will feel normal again. 

If you already know that you are allergic to general anesthesia, you must bring this information to the plastic surgeon’s knowledge. While most surgeons prefer to perform under general anesthesia, it can also be performed under IV sedation with local anesthesia if the patient is allergic to general anesthesia. 


Allergic responses

Another temporary side effect is that your body may be allergic to the tools or medicines used during the procedure. If this is the case, your body will react by creating allergic responses. For instance, you may get rashes on the breasts. Your breast may feel itchy or irritated. If the allergy is severe, it can be very uncomfortable for the patient. However, the allergic response created by your body will subside in the days following the surgery. If the patient already knows that she is allergic to any surgical tools or medicines, she must bring this to the knowledge of the plastic surgeon.


Swelling of the veins when IV sedation is used

In case you are allergic to general anesthesia and the plastic surgeon performs the reduction mammoplasty under IV sedation and local anesthesia, your veins may be swollen or inflamed. This is a temporary side effect and nothing to be concerned about. It shows that your body is working to recuperate you from the surgical trauma and heal the affected area where the syringe was pierced. However, in case the swelling increases instead of decreasing in the days after the surgery, you should contact your surgeon as it may be a symptom of a complication. 


Suture problems

After removing the excess fat, tissue, and skin from your breasts, the plastic surgeon will suture and close the incisions. The sutures are essential in sealing the incisions and helping them heal. They are usually removed from the breasts after one week, or if absorbable sutures were used, your body will naturally absorb them. But there is a chance that if non-absorbable sutures are used, they will fall off through the incision. Many patients panic when they see this. The fact is that this is entirely normal. If it happens, you can go to your doctor and have the sutures removed and the incisions cleaned. 


What are the risks?

Even though the temporary side effects of reduction mammoplasty will gradually disappear, other risks may need treatment. For example, if an infection occurs, it will not go away on its own. If not treated immediately, it can spread across your body and even be life-threatening. Seroma and hematoma are also the risks that may happen after the procedure. Using drain cannulas can prevent these conditions.

There is also a risk that your breasts may become asymmetrical after the procedure. This risk is higher where the surgeon has poor judgment and ends up removing more fat or tissue from one breast than the other. To avoid this condition, you must select your plastic surgeon carefully.

The incisions made during the operation will ultimately take the shape of scars. The scarring happens as a result of the natural protection mechanism of your body against the incisions and surgical trauma. Your body will produce more collagen after the surgery, which will help seal the incisions by creating scars. The operation is not possible without scarring. In rare cases, the scars may develop abnormally and become raised and more prominent. 



Breast reduction or reduction mammoplasty is a major procedure that involves removal of tissue, fat, and skin from the breasts with the goal to reduce your breast size and remove any symptoms associated with the condition. The surgery is effective, but there are side effects associated with it. In this article, I have explained the temporary side effects of the procedure. During the pre-operative consultation, make sure to discuss the side effects and risks of the operation with the doctor. 

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