A breast reduction is a surgical procedure that reduces the size of the breasts. Your surgeon will make incisions in your breasts and remove excess fat, tissue, and skin, and your breasts will be reshaped. Your nipples will also be repositioned.
Also Known As
Typical Recovery Time
Two to Six Weeks
About the Surgery
What kind of outcome is typical for breast reduction?
Breast reduction is likely to decrease the size and weight of your breasts and relieve pain and discomfort associated with large breasts.
What are the alternatives to breast reduction?
Alternatives to breast reduction surgery include losing weight, liposuction alone, and purchasing a specialty bra.
What are the possible side effects of general anesthesia?
Some of the possible side effects of general anesthesia include nausea and vomiting, dry mouth, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, bruising (from the IV), itching, shivering and feeling cold, difficulty urinating, and sleepiness. In older patients, memory loss and temporary confusion are possible.
What are possible side effects and complications of breast reduction?
The possible side effects and complications of breast reduction surgery include infection; bleeding; blood clots; fluid accumulation; anesthesia risks; allergies to surgical materials including tape and sutures; breast asymmetry and contour and shape irregularities; temporary or permanent changes in breast sensation; deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot that is in a deep vein); persistent pain; poor wound healing; potential inability to breastfeed; unfavorable scarring; potential partial or total loss of nipples and areolas; and the possibility of revisional surgery.
How safe is breast reduction surgery?
Breast reduction surgery is a procedure with minimal risks, though there are some. If you’re a smoker, your surgeon might recommend that you stop at least during the time of your procedure because it can impede healing. You should also know that Hancock Regional Hospital has been rated one of the safest hospitals in America by The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit health care watchdog organization; and was named the safest hospital in Indiana on the Lown Institute Hospital Index.
How do I know if breast reduction surgery is right for me?
You’re a good candidate for a breast reduction if you experience back, neck, and shoulder pain and discomfort, caused by the weight of your breasts.
Do I have options for anesthesia for breast reduction surgery?
General anesthesia is usually used for breast reduction surgery.
What issue does a breast reduction solve?
If you are bothered by concerns that your breasts are too large, breast reduction surgery might be helpful to you. In some cases, large breasts cause physical pain and discomfort or self-consciousness.
How is a breast reduction done?
In breast reduction surgery, your surgeon will make incisions around the areola and down the front of each breast and remove excess fat, tissue, and skin. Your breasts will be lifted and reshaped and your nipples will be repositioned. If necessary, the diameter of your areolas might be decreased by removing the skin at their perimeter. (In some cases, excess fat may be removed through liposuction.) The incisions are then brought together to reshape your smaller breasts, and stitches are layered deep within the breast tissue to support the newly shaped breasts. Stitches, skin adhesives, and surgical tape may be used to close the skin.
Choosing a Surgeon
Why might I have to wait to schedule a breast reduction?
In some cases it takes time for a patient’s body to be ready for surgery. For example, if you have another medical issue including another surgical procedure or an illness, we might wait to schedule surgery. Your health and safety are our top priorities, so we schedule surgeries when they’re best for our patients. If you smoke, it may be necessary for you to stop and wait for a period of time before your procedure, as smoking can impede the healing process.
Will the surgical team know my health history?
Your health history will be compiled and available to the team before, during, and after surgery. If you’re a Hancock Health patient, we will be able to access your records within our system. If you aren’t, we’ll work with your doctors to get the necessary information.
How should I decide which surgeon’s advice to follow?
You should work with the surgeon with whom you feel comfortable, whether that’s one of our surgeons or not.
Do I have to get a second or third opinion for breast reduction surgery?
You can always get a second or third opinion, but it isn’t required.
What should I bring to my first appointment with a surgeon to talk about breast reduction surgery?
- Insurance information
- Medical records, including your medical history, from your primary care physician
- Your most recent diagnostic labs and imaging (Not sure where to go? Check out Gateway Hancock Health, where you’ll be able to get in and out quickly and pay, on average, 70% less than you’ll pay at a hospital.)
- A list of your surgical goals and photos of the look you want to achieve
- You should be prepared for your surgeon to measure you and take photographs of your chest
Do I need a referral to see a surgeon about breast reduction surgery?
You don’t need a referral to see a plastic surgeon.
How long does it take the anesthesia to wear off?
It takes about an hour for general anesthesia to wear off, but you may notice the effects for a day or so.
What do I need to bring to the hospital the day of my breast reduction surgery?
You should bring something to keep you entertained in the waiting area. You’ll also want to wear comfortable clothing and shoes, including a loose-fitting top that buttons up or has a front zipper closure. A blanket and a pillow might also be helpful during the ride home. You may want a bottle of water and some crackers for the ride home after your procedure.
Why am I asked for my name and date of birth every time I get medicine?
It’s a safety precaution to make sure you’re receiving the medication that’s prescribed for you.
Why are there so many people on my surgery team?
In addition to the surgeon, you have an anesthesiologist, nurses—some of them specialize in working with patients and others assist the surgeon—and support staff, who will check you in and out, compile your records, and more. They all work together, performing their individual jobs, so your procedure is as successful as possible.
Will I need someone to take me home after breast reduction surgery?
You will need someone to drive you home after your procedure. We’ll help you arrange a ride home if you don’t have one.
What should I expect right before breast reduction surgery?
- You’ll arrive two hours before your surgery and be escorted to the preoperative waiting area.
- You’ll remove all of your clothing and jewelry, and put on a hospital gown. (Your valuables will be placed in a secure area or may be given to a family member.)
- You’ll sign any necessary paperwork and a preoperative nurse will take your vital signs, review your medications, and answer any questions.
- You’ll meet the members of your surgery team. They will mark the location of your surgery on your body.
- An I.V. (intravenous line) will be placed in your hand or arm, so medications—including general anesthesia—can be administered.
- When it’s time for your surgery, you will be wheeled into the operating suite on a stretcher.
Why can’t I eat before surgery?
There’s a risk of aspiration, which means you’re breathing foreign objects, like food or saliva, into your lungs. This can occur because the anesthetic for surgery can impair your body’s ability to stop the contents of your stomach from entering your lungs.
How should I prepare for a breast reduction?
Prior to your procedure, you may be asked to get lab tests, a medical evaluation, or a baseline mammogram. You might be asked to get another mammogram after your procedure so your care providers can better understand future changes to your breasts. (Not sure where to go to get your lab tests? Check out Gateway Hancock Health, where you’ll be able to get in and out quickly and pay, on average, 70% less than you’ll pay at a hospital.)
If you smoke, you’ll probably be asked to stop for several weeks or months, and you’ll also likely be instructed not to take aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements because they can increase bleeding. Your surgeon will also likely tell you not to eat anything after midnight on the day of your surgeries.
How long will I be in the hospital after breast reduction surgery?
You’ll likely be able to go home the same day as your surgery.
How long will I be under for breast reduction surgery?
You will be anesthetized during the entire surgery, and you’ll wake up soon after the procedure is complete.
How long does a breast reduction take?
A breast reduction takes two to four hours.
When will my family be informed about how I’m doing?
Our associates will get information from the surgical team in the operating room during your surgery and keep them updated.
What will happen during breast reduction surgery?
As you are anesthetized and breathing oxygen through a mask, your surgeon will make incisions in your breasts and then remove excess fat, tissue, and skin. Your breast will be reshaped, and your nipple will be repositioned. Sutures will be layered within the breast to create and support the newly shaped breasts, and then the skin will be surgically closed.
Will I need to fill any prescriptions or take medication after breast reduction surgery?
You might receive a prescription for pain medication. You might also be instructed to use over-the-counter pain medication to minimize discomfort from the procedure.
How soon after breast reduction surgery can I eat or drink?
You might not be able to eat or drink right away and you might be asked to follow a clear fluid diet for a short time. After that, you’ll probably be able to return to solid foods—but easy-to-digest items, including soups, pudding, and yogurt, are recommended.
Will I receive pain medication right after breast reduction surgery?
You will receive pain medication immediately after breast reduction surgery.
How soon after breast reduction surgery will I be up and moving around?
Your nurses will help you get up as soon as possible after surgery.
When will I get to talk to my surgeon after surgery?
You’ll be able to talk to your surgeon immediately after your procedure, while you’re in the recovery room.
How will I know if the breast reduction worked?
Your surgeon will discuss your procedure with you but, in the long run, you’ll decide if your procedure worked. If you are pleased with the results and you feel better and more confident, then your procedure is a success.
What can I expect right after breast reduction surgery?
You’ll spend a few hours in the recovery room as the anesthesia wears off and then you’ll prepare to go home.
Insurance & Costs
What are payment options like for breast reduction surgery at Hancock Health?
Hancock Health is committed to helping make great care affordable for all patients. To find out more about payment options, please visit the billing and insurance FAQ page at HancockRegionalHospital.org.
Will Medicare cover breast reduction surgery?
Medicare will cover breast reduction surgery, but it’s important for your doctor to indicate that the procedure is medically necessary.
Will insurance cover breast reduction?
Many health insurance plans cover medically necessary breast reduction surgery, although your surgeon might need to obtain authorization from your insurer. You will still be responsible for your deductible and any co-pays required by your insurance company. To obtain your possible out-of-pocket expenses, use our Price Estimator Tool.
How much does breast reduction surgery cost?
Consult the Price Transparency Tool at HancockRegionalHospital.org for an idea of how much breast reduction surgery might cost.
ASK A HANCOCK HEALTH EXPERT
When you have questions about surgery, our board-certified surgeons and expert surgical team members are ready to give you the answers you need.
READY TO TALK?
Whether you’re looking for an initial consultation or a second opinion—or you just have more questions—we’re here to help. Get in touch with us, and we’ll get back to you within one business day.