A breast reduction, also known as a reduction mammaplasty, is a surgical procedure that reduces the size of the breast by removing excess tissue, fat, and skin.
Although breast reduction may be sought by patients for aesthetic reasons, it is also a medical procedure that can reduce the back and neck pain, rashes, and discomfort caused by disproportionately large breasts (macromastia).
The following guide includes answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about breast reduction surgery.
When should you get a breast reduction?
There are a number of reasons why you may wish to undergo a breast reduction procedure. Some patients find that a breast reduction allows them to experience less self-consciousness and an improved self-image. However, many patients also seek out the procedure for its medical benefits, including:
- Less back and neck pain from supporting heavy breasts throughout the day
- More comfort during exercise
- Reduced risk of yeast infection rashes (intertrigo) where the breasts rub against the skin of the upper torso
- Less weight placed on the bra throughout the day, leading to a more comfortable and easier fit
Generally speaking, you may be a good candidate for breast reduction if you experience mental or physical discomfort caused by large or heavy breasts or if one of your breasts is disproportionately larger than the other. Healthy non-smokers who are close to their ideal body weight also tend to experience the best short-term recovery and long-term results from the procedure.
What is the cost of breast reduction surgery?
The cost of a breast reduction surgery will largely depend on your individual situation, the experience of the surgeon performing your procedure, and whether or not your insurance will help to cover the surgical costs.
Some insurance plans may cover part or all of the cost of your surgery if the procedure is deemed to be medically necessary to treat medical issues such as back and neck pain, severe rashes, or difficulty breathing while lying down, so long as these issues are not caused by another underlying health concern. However, this will depend on the specifics of your health insurance plan.
If you are wondering what the cost of a breast reduction surgery will be in your particular case, you should request a consultation with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon. They will be able to walk you through the costs and your options for payment.
What is the recovery process like after breast reduction surgery?
Your individual healing process will vary depending on the extent of the tissue removed, your personal health, and how closely you follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions. However, you can usually expect recovery from a breast reduction procedure to reflect the following timeline.
In most instances, you will be able to return home, stand upright, and walk around on the day of the procedure, although you may experience some soreness for the first few days and will want a trusted person to supervise your recovery.
You can expect to be able to return to work within about a week, provided that your job does not require heavy lifting or strenuous physical activity. However, you will need to refrain from exercise for approximately three to four weeks and avoid heavy lifting and strenuous upper-body exercise for at least six to eight weeks.
Eating a healthy diet, refraining from smoking, and following your surgeon’s assigned scar-treatment regimen are also key to ensuring a quick and optimal recovery from your surgery.
What age should you start considering breast reduction?
There is no single age when you should start to consider a breast reduction procedure. However, it is often best to wait until your breasts have finished developing prior to having a breast reduction—for most individuals, this occurs between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. Typically, your surgeon will ask you to wait until you have not experienced significant breast growth for at least six months.
A breast reduction may also be suitable for younger patients if macromastia begins to cause significant medical issues at a young age, but this will depend on the specifics of your situation, and many insurance providers will not cover costs associated with a breast reduction until you have reached at least the age of sixteen.
Is a breast reduction safe?
A breast reduction is very safe when performed by an experienced plastic surgeon, but it is still a complex surgical procedure. If you are considering a breast reduction, you should look for a plastic surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery—these surgeons have undergone rigorous testing and training and will be best equipped to perform your procedure in the safest possible manner.
You can also reduce the risk of infection and other recovery complications by carefully following your surgeon’s post-operative instructions.
Is breast reduction the right choice for me?
Having a breast reduction is a major personal decision, and it is important to carefully weigh your situation and the potential benefits before choosing to undergo the procedure. If you have further questions or want to know whether a breast reduction might be right for you, request a consultation with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon, and they will be able to guide you through your options going forward.