Difficulty breastfeeding, or being unable to breastfeed
Large scars that take a long time to heal
Loss of feeling in the nipple area
Uneven position of the nipples or differences in the size of the breasts
Before the Procedure
If you smoke, you must stop. Women who smoke after breast surgery have a higher risk of poor healing, infection, and scarring. You should even avoid breathing in secondhand smoke.
Tell your surgeon:
If you are or could be pregnant
What drugs you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription
You may need a mammogram before the surgery. Your plastic surgeon will do a routine breast exam.
Several days before surgery, you may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen, warfarin (Coumadin), and any other drugs that make it hard for your blood to clot.
Ask your surgeon which drugs you should still take on the day of the surgery.
You may need to fill prescriptions for pain medicine before surgery.
Arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery and help you around your house for several days.
On the day of surgery:
Follow the surgeon's instructions about not eating or drinking anything before the surgery.
Take the drugs your surgeon told you to take with a small sip of water.
Wear or bring loose clothing that buttons or zips in front.
Arrive at the hospital on time.
After the Procedure
You may have to stay overnight in the hospital.
After surgery, a gauze dressing (bandage) will be wrapped around your breasts and chest. Or you will wear a surgical bra. Wear the surgical bra or a soft supportive bra for as long as your surgeon tells you to. This will likely be for several weeks.
Drainage tubes may be attached to your breasts. These tubes will be removed within a few days.
Your pain should decrease in a few weeks. Take pain medicine to control it. Be sure to take the medicine with food and plenty of water. Do not apply ice or heat to your breasts unless your doctor has told you that is okay.
Within a few weeks, the swelling and bruising around your incisions should disappear. You may have a temporary loss of sensation in your breast skin and nipples after surgery. Sensation may return over time. Your stitches, if any, will be removed within 2 weeks after surgery.
You are likely to have a very good outcome from breast reduction surgery. You may feel better about your appearance and be more comfortable with various activities.
Pain or skin symptoms, such as striation, may disappear. You may need to wear a special supportive bra for a few months to reshape your breasts.
Scars are permanent. They will be more visible for the first year, but will then fade. The surgeon will make every effort to place the cuts so that scars are hidden. Cuts are usually made on the underside of the breast. Most of the time, the scars should not be noticeable, even in low-cut clothing.
McGrath MH, Pomerantz J. Plastic surgery. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 69.
Roehl KR, Wilhelmi BJ, Phillips LG. Breast reconstruction. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD,Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 37.
Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, General Surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.