Breast Reduction   

(reduction mammaplasty)

What It Does

Overly large breasts are often responsible for a number of physical problems, including back, neck, and shoulder pain; limited physical activity; skin irritations; and discomfort from bra straps. However, many women find the emotional discomfort and self-consciousness of having large breasts as much an issue as the physical problems.

Breast reduction surgery, or reduction mammaplasty, removes excess breast fat, glandular tissue, and skin to achieve a more proportional breast size, helping to improve self-image and decrease physical problems and discomfort.

Procedure Basics

Breast reduction surgery may be performed in an accredited office-based surgical center, an out-patient/ambulatory surgical center, or a hospital. If performed on an out-patient basis, be sure to have someone available to drive you to and from surgery and stay with you the first night following surgery.

The technique used to reduce breast size will be determined by breast composition, amount of reduction desired, patient preferences, and your surgeon’s advice. If the breast tissue is primarily fat, liposuction may be used in conjunction with surgery to reduce breast size. Under general anesthesia, your surgeon will make incisions to remove fat and glandular tissue, reposition and/or resize the areolas, and excise excess skin. The incisions are brought together to reshape the breast, with sutures layered deeply to shape and support the now smaller breast.


You will be given specific instructions concerning post-surgical medications, breast care, and when to follow up with your surgeon. The success of your procedure and healing will be greatly enhanced by carefully following your doctor’s post-surgical instructions. Be sure to attend any follow up visits with your surgeon as directed.

In general, you will need to care for the dressings and bandages applied to the incisions following your surgery. Elastic bandages or a support bra should be worn as directed to minimize swelling and support the breasts as they heal. A small, thin tube, or drain, may be placed under the skin temporarily to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect. The results of a breast reduction surgery are immediately visible, although it will take several weeks for the breast tissue to completely heal and for incision lines, although permanent, to fade. Patients often find the physical problems created by overly large breasts begin to resolve as well.

Additional Information

Some of the risks involved with breast reduction surgery include unfavorable scarring, changes in nipple or breast sensation (temporary or permanent), breast contour and shape irregularities, skin discoloration, excessive firmness of the breast, and possible revisional surgery if required. Your doctor will discuss the various risks associated with surgery at your consultation.

If you are planning a future pregnancy and plan to breast feed, keep in mind that breast reduction surgery can interfere with nursing a baby. Changes in breast tissue during pregnancy or in association with significant weight gain can also alter the effectiveness of breast reduction surgery.

Breast reduction surgery may be covered by health insurance, particularly when performed to relieve medical symptoms. Review your health coverage carefully or contact your health care provider to determine what steps might be necessary for coverage.

Additional Resources

There is a wealth of information available concerning breast reduction surgery provided by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (www.plasticsurgery.org) ; click on “Cosmetic” and choose from the list of procedures. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Inc. (www.surgery.org) also provides in-depth information; choose “Procedures” for a list of topics.

To schedule a consultation to discuss breast reduction surgery with Dr. Christine Kelley, please call 317/575-0330.