Breast Reduction
In-Depth Guide

Breast reduction surgery makes the breasts smaller and gives the breasts a more uplifted shape. After suffering with their enlarged breast size for so long, many women wish they had done the surgery years ago.

What is breast reduction? (reduction mammaplasty)

Breast reduction, technically called reduction mammaplasty, is surgery to removes fat, glandular tissue, and skin from the breasts, making them smaller, lighter, and firmer. It can also reduce the size of the areola, the darker skin surrounding the nipple. The goal is to give the woman smaller, better-shaped breasts in proportion with the rest of her body.

Breast reduction is usually performed for physical relief rather than simply cosmetic improvement. Most women who have the surgery are troubled by very large, sagging breasts that restrict their activities and cause them physical discomfort.

Women with breasts that are sagging but are not overly large can have their breast lifted without reduction.  This is called a breast lift (mastopexy).

What are the benefits of a reduction mammaplasty surgery?

The benefits of breast reduction surgery are to:

  • Remove excess breast fat, tissue and skin to achieve a breast size in proportion with the body
  • Alleviate back, neck and shoulder pain and indentation associated with overly large breasts
  • Improve or eliminate skin irritation beneath the breast crease
  • Reduce the enlarged areola (the pigmented skin surrounding the nipple) caused by stretched skin

What is the cost of a breast reduction?

The cost of breast reduction surgery depends on the type of procedure that needs to be done (see below). For this reason, it is best to come in for a consultation with our surgeons to discuss which surgery technique is best for you. Many patients use financing to help with the cost of surgery. Please call us at 951-699-9201 and our office staff would be happy to assist you.

How is a breast reduction surgery performed?

While one of the main reasons for breast reduction is to improve symptoms associated with overly large breasts, it is important for you to discuss with our surgeons what your goals are. At the Advanced Institute for Plastic Surgery, we take the time to carefully plan and customize the surgery with you. We take into consideration your current breast size and shape, size and position of the areola, the degree of breast sagging, skin quality, and, of course, your goals and desired final size.

A breast reduction usually takes between 2 to 4 hours depending on the technique performed.

Short Scar Technique

When a minimal to moderate breast reduction is needed, the reduction can be performed using a “short scar” technique. The “short scar” technique involves an incision around the areola and extends vertically downward. The final result is often called a “lollipop” scar.

Anchor Incision Technique

For larger breast reductions, a horizontal incision is added to form an “anchor” incision. After the incisions are made, the excess glandular tissue, fat, and skin are removed. The nipple and areola are lifted into their new position. The skin from both sides of the breast are then brought together to reshape the new contour of the breast.

In both techniques, the nipples remain attached to their blood vessels and nerves. However, if the breasts are very large or pendulous, the nipples and areolae may have to be completely removed and grafted into a higher position. (This will result in a loss of sensation in the nipple and areolar tissue.)

How is the reduction mammaplasty surgery recovery process?

After surgery, you will wear an elastic bandage over gauze dressings. Your breasts will be bruised, swollen, and uncomfortable for a day or two, but the pain shouldn’t be severe. Any discomfort you do feel can be relieved with medications. For a few days after surgery, keeping the head elevated will help keep the swelling down. Some numbness of the skin is normal; it will disappear in a few weeks or months.

Within a few days, the bandages will be replaced by a soft sports bra. You will need to wear this bra all the time for three to four weeks, over a layer of gauze.

Most patients are back to work or school in 7 to 14 days depending on the extent of the surgery.Avoid strenuous activity, including heavy lifting, pushing, jogging, bending, housework, sex, or any activity that may put excessive pressure on your breasts. Avoid anything but gentle contact with your breasts for about six weeks.

Although much of the swelling and bruising will disappear in the first few weeks, it may be six months to a year before your breasts settle into their new shape. Even then, their shape may fluctuate in response to your hormonal shifts, weight changes, and pregnancy.

What are some possible risk and complications?

Most women after breast reduction are extremely happy with significant alleviation of back, neck, and shoulder pain. However, all surgeries come with associated risks and we want you to know about them.


There will be incisions along your breasts and your surgeon will be able to tell you exactly what to expect. How the scar heals, however, depends on your genetic characteristics. Some people’s scars are very faint while other people’s scars may be more prominent.

Numbness of the Nipple

During the course of the surgery, microscopic nerves that supply sensation to the nipple may be disrupted.  After surgery, it is the job of those nerves to find their way back to the nipple. Sometimes these nerves get “lost”. Numbness of the nipple is often temporary, but in some individuals, it may be permanent.


In order to decrease the risk of bleeding after surgery, you should avoid lifting, pushing or pulling anything. Do not bend over at the waist or allow the breasts to dangle. Avoid coughing, throwing up or retching. Anything that raises your blood pressure will increase your chance of bleeding. If you carefully follow our postoperative instructions, most bleeding will be avoided.

Dissatisfaction with Final Size

Before the surgery, our surgeons take a great deal of time and care in talking to you about your desired size. We do our best to try to achieve your wishes. Even so, however, women may occasionally feel that they are too large or too small after the surgery. With proper education and communication before the surgery, in most cases, patients are happy with their results.

Frequently asked questions

Q: How much time is required for a breast reduction?
A: The surgery requires approximately 2-4 hours depending on the surgical technique. As with all surgeries, the amount of time needed varies from patient to patient.

Q: Is a breast reduction an inpatient or outpatient procedure?
A: Outpatient.

Q: What are some common side effects?
A: Side effects of a breast reduction include temporary swelling, bruising, and discomfort. Changes in nipple or breast sensation are usually temporary. Scars along the incision sites are permanent.

Q: What is the recovery time?
A: Most patients are able to return to work or school in 7 to 14 days.

Q: How long do the results last?
A: The results from a breast reduction can be permanent. However, pregnancy and weight fluctuations will change the size of your breasts. The effects of gravity and aging may eventually cause the breast to sag, creating the need for a future breast lift.

How do I schedule an appointment?

Our surgeons would love to meet and go over everything you need to know about breast reduction surgery with you. Just give us a call at 951-699-9201 or use the link below. We look forward to meeting you soon!

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