8 Things To Know Before A Breast Reduction Surgery

Breast reduction, or reduction mammoplasty, is a surgery to reduce breast size by taking out extra skin, fat, and gland tissue. This can ease the discomfort from large breasts and boost your confidence.

If breast reduction is on your mind, it’s vital to be well-informed to set the right expectations and prep accordingly.

Here are eight crucial points everyone should grasp before diving into this surgery. Being in the know can pave the way for optimal outcomes and an easier healing phase.

1. Are You the Right Fit?

First, see if you’re the right fit for this procedure. Breast reduction is perfect for ladies with hefty, oversized breasts that lead to both physical pain and emotional strain. However, there’s no set breast size to qualify.

Typical folks looking into this often face issues like a sore back, neck, and shoulders, skin troubles, or bad posture because of heavy breasts.

Your cosmetic doctor will check your health, breast structure, and any potential risks to determine if a breast reduction is right up your alley.

If you’ve got health concerns like being overweight, a smoking habit, or issues with bleeding, it might not be for you.

Remember to chat about your health background thoroughly during your visit to the doctor.

2. Choose the Right Surgeon

An important thing to do when considering breast reduction surgery is to verify your surgeon’s credentials, training, and experience.

You want to entrust your procedure to a board-certified plastic surgeon with specialized expertise in reduction mammoplasty.

When consulting potential surgeons, ask about the number of breast reductions they perform annually, before and after photos of their work, years in practice, hospital privileges, and any specialty training. You can also ask for an example of a plastic surgeon’s qualifications, such as their ability to take a patient-focused approach.

Understanding these factors will give you a clear benchmark against which you can measure the expertise of the surgeon you’re considering.

3.  Grasp the Surgical Methods

There are various methods your surgeon might use for breast reduction. The anchor incision is popular, creating an anchor-like cut around the areola, straight down, and then across the breast’s bottom fold.

There are also the vertical incision and liposuction methods. Discuss with your surgeon to understand the best fit for your goals. Look at their past results through photos to gauge possible results.

During your consultation, they’ll break down the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

Your surgeon will assess your health, breast structure, and risks before considering a reduction mammoplasty for you.

If you have health issues like being overweight, smoking habits, or problems with bleeding, you might not be the right fit.

Make sure to go over your health background thoroughly during your consultation.

4. Plan for Your Recovery Period

Recovery is different for each patient, but you can expect it to take several weeks to months to heal from breast reduction surgery fully.

Most patients need to take 1-2 weeks off of work and limit activities during the initial recovery period. You may have surgical drains for a few days and will need to wear a surgical bra as your incisions heal.

It’s normal to have swelling, bruising, numbness, and mild discomfort that subsides over time.

Your activity levels will be restricted until your surgeon clears you for normal movement without restriction.

Ask your surgeon for a detailed timeline so you can properly prepare.

Recommended reading: Gastric Sleeve Vs. Gastric Bypass Surgery

5. Know What to Expect with Scarring

Scarring is inevitable with breast reduction surgery since the techniques require incisions around the breasts.

The extent of scarring depends on your technique, but most patients are left with noticeable scars that continue to fade over the first year. Although the scars are often permanent, they lighten and flatten over time.

Your surgeon may recommend products or treatments to minimize the appearance of scars. However, some redness and thickness tend to persist.

Discuss scarring candidly with your surgeon so you have realistic expectations about the long-term results.

6. Stop Smoking a Minimum of Six Weeks Before Surgery

It’s imperative to stop smoking for six weeks before surgery and refrain from smoking during recovery as well. Smoking severely impedes blood flow, which can lead to major surgical complications like delayed wound healing, excessive scarring, nipple necrosis, and infections.

Let your surgeon know if you currently smoke so you can take steps to quit in preparation for a safer procedure and smoother healing process. Avoid all nicotine exposure for optimal results.

7. Lab Tests and Medical Clearance

Your surgeon will likely order lab tests during your pre-op phase to check factors like blood counts, clotting times, and kidney and liver function.

Medical clearance from your primary doctor is often required as well for patients with health conditions. This helps rule out any existing issues that could negatively impact your surgery and recovery.

Make sure to get all ordered lab and diagnostic testing completed well in advance of your procedure date. Proactively see your primary doctor and specialists to address any concerns.

8. Follow the Prescriptions and Instructions

Your surgeon will provide detailed pre- and post-op instructions to follow for optimal safety and results. This includes guidelines on eating, drinking, medication, vitamin supplements, bathing, wound care, and more.

Read these instructions closely, and be sure to get any prescribed medications filled before your surgery date.

Stick to the pre-op diet and stop taking any blood-thinning medications or herbal supplements as directed. Follow all instructions diligently for the best experience.

Recommended reading: Weight Loss Surgery Options

Frequently Asked Questions

Does insurance cover gynecomastia surgery?

Insurance may cover gynecomastia surgery based on the plan, surgery reason, and patient's age. Typically, if the surgery is for medical needs, like pain relief, coverage is more likely. But, it might only cover some of the cost.

How to get insurance to pay for gynecomastia surgery?

Provide proof that the surgery is needed for health reasons. This can be a doctor's letter about your condition. Your doctor might also need to send a treatment plan to your insurance for a pre-approval.

How old is it to get a breast reduction?

There's no set age for breast reduction. However, it's best to wait until your breasts are fully grown, typically by age 18, and when you're healthy and have a stable weight.

When is a breast lift medically necessary?

A breast lift is needed for health reasons when breasts cause pain, breathing issues, skin problems, sleep troubles, or limit physical activities like exercising. This often happens when breasts are too large or heavy.

Can you get a breast reduction while pregnant?

No, it's not advised to have a breast reduction during pregnancy. Surgery has higher risks when pregnant, and hormonal changes can affect the breast's shape, impacting the surgery's outcome.

Does a breast reduction include a lift?

Yes, a breast reduction usually involves a lift. When removing breast tissue, the surgeon reshapes and tightens the remaining skin for a natural look. This means adjusting the nipple and tightening the surrounding skin.

What to buy before breast reduction surgery?

Before your surgery, get the following:
• Loose outfits, preferably with buttons or zips, for easy dressing.
• A supportive surgical bra, which your surgeon might suggest.
• Ice packs, but wrap them in a towel before use.
• Follow your surgeon's advice on pain medication.

Can a 15-year-old get a breast reduction?

Yes, a 15-year-old can, but it's a big surgery best considered when breasts are done growing, around age 18. However, if large breasts cause pain or emotional stress, it might be recommended even at 15.

How long do drains stay in after breast reduction?

Usually, drains remain for 3-5 days post-surgery. They're taken out when fluid drainage drops, typically below 20-30 cubic centimeters daily for two straight days. Always follow your surgeon's guidance.

Can you lift your arms after breast reduction?

After breast reduction, you can raise your arms but follow your surgeon's advice. Typically, avoid lifting over 5 pounds for at least 2 weeks. Gradually increase weight after that, but stop if it hurts.

How long does a breast reduction take to heal?

Healing after breast reduction usually takes 2-3 months. Yet, breasts might take up to 6 months or more to settle into their final shape and size. Everyone's recovery varies.

Final Thoughts

To prepare for an easy reduction mammoplasty experience, take the time to educate yourself about all aspects of the procedure fully.

If you take the proper steps to optimize safety and results ahead of time, you can feel fully confident going into your breast reduction surgery.

Following these tips will prepare you for the journey to smaller and lighter breasts. These changes can improve your comfort, health, and self-image.

Read next: Cosmetic Surgery: The Secret Booster For Self-Confidence


  1. PRS Global Open, International Open Access Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. PubMed Central, Rodrigo Guridi, et. al., 2019, A Step-by-Step Approach to a Successful Cosmetic Breast Reduction
  2. StatPearls, National Library of Medicine, Breast Reduction
  3. Penn Medicine, Penn Cosmetic Surgery, Frequently Asked Questions about Breast Reduction Surgery
  4. American Society of Plastic Surgeons, How should I prepare for breast reduction surgery?