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.
At A Glance: Breast Reduction
Also Known As
Typical Recovery Time
Two to Six Weeks
Typical Price Range
Tell Me About The Surgery
Procedure Research and Consultation
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.
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.
Do I have options for anesthesia for breast reduction surgery?
General anesthesia is usually used for breast reduction surgery.
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.
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.
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.
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 the alternatives to breast reduction?
Alternatives to breast reduction surgery include losing weight, liposuction alone, and purchasing a specialty bra.
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.
Consultation and Choosing A Surgeon or Surgical Team
Do I need a referral to see a surgeon about breast reduction surgery?
You don’t need a referral to see a plastic surgeon.
What should I bring to my first appointment with a surgeon to talk about breast reduction surgery?
Insurance informationMedical records, including your medical history, from your primary care physicianYour 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 achieveYou should be prepared for your surgeon to measure you and take photographs of your chest
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.
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.
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.
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.
Insurance & Cost
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pre-op and Day of Surgery
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
How long does a breast reduction take?
A breast reduction takes two to four hours.
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 will I be in the hospital after breast reduction surgery?
You’ll likely be able to go home the same day as your surgery.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
Recovery and Follow-Up
How should I prepare to recover from breast reduction surgery at home?
Ask someone to spend a few days after the surgery at home with you—especially if you live alone. Prepare to take it easy for at least a week—compile reading material or a list of movies or television shows you’d like to watch. You’ll be instructed to avoid straining, bending, or lifting for two to three weeks.Prepare to be asked to wait for at least 48 hours to shower. (You’ll be advised not to take a bath or soak in a hot tub for about a month.)Shop for groceries before your procedure and have lots of hydrating liquids and healthy foods, full of fiber and protein, on hand. Have dark towels and clothing available. They’ll absorb any leaking fluid.Prepare to wear a surgical support or elastic bandage bra day and night for several days. You’ll also want to wear loose-fitting T-shirts and front-zip hoodies.Know that you might have a small drain under your skin to drain any excess blood or fluid.Expect your breasts to be swollen and bruised for about two weeks. Prepare to sleep on your back with your upper body slightly elevated, which will help reduce swelling. (Sleeping in a recliner or with a stack of pillows is recommended.)
Will I need any follow-up appointments or procedures after breast reduction surgery?
Your first follow-up visit will be in one to two weeks after your surgery. Additional follow-up appointments might be at four to six weeks after the procedure, three months, and six months—the schedule will depend upon your individual needs.
Will there be any scarring or stitches to remove after breast reduction surgery?
You can expect to have some scarring, which will fade over time, at your surgical sites. If you have any sutures or that aren’t dissolvable, they will likely be removed at one of your first postoperative appointments. Your drains will likely be removed in one to two days.
How do I care for my incision at home?
Check with your surgeon on the timing of your first shower following the procedure. You will likely have to wait 48 hours. When you are able to shower, face away from the shower spray. Don’t scrub the incision area. Just run soap and water over it.After showering, gently dry the incision areas with a clean towel.Wear the surgical bra or elastic bandage until your surgeon instructs you otherwise.Wear loose-fitting clothing.Use ice packs to reduce swelling.Expect some drainage from the surgical site.Keep your gauze pads clean, dry, and intact for a day after the surgery. It’s OK to remove them after a day.Avoid removing the steri-strips or skin glue over your incisions. These will disappear with time. If you have stitches, keep them as clean and dry and possible—they will either dissolve or your surgeon will decide when to remove them. Sleep with your head and chest slightly elevated above the level of your lower body—this will help with swelling. Stay well hydrated. Take short walks each day but don’t return to an exercise routine until your care team approves it.Avoid sexual activity for one to two weeks.
What should I do if I have an emergency or accident after breast reduction surgery?
Call your surgeon’s office, and, if you’re in need of immediate emergency services, go to the nearest emergency room.
When will I be able to get back to work after breast reduction surgery?
You will be able to return to work in about two weeks, but you should avoid strenuous activity for at least six weeks.
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