What is breast reduction?

Reduction mammaplasty, or breast reduction, is a surgical procedure to reduce the size of the breast while reshaping and lifting the breast into a more upright and youthful position. For most women, the surgery may be performed as an outpatient and the patient goes home that same day. I do not typically use drains in my breast reductions, however, some surgeons do. If drains are used, they are removed in the office within 1-2 weeks. Scars are typically well tolerated. Depending on the technique, breast reduction will usually result in a scar around the areola, down the front of the breast, and under the breast within the breast fold. This is sometimes referred to as an “anchor pattern.” Sometimes the incision below the breast is not needed resulting in a “lollipop” pattern. Other times, only the incision around the areola is required.

Is breast reduction right for me?

Commonly women who come to our office seeking breast reduction surgery have suffered for a long time with chronic neck pain and back pain or in some cases may have rashes under the breasts for which they use messy lotions or powders to treat. Often women can’t find a suitable bra and have grooves in their shoulders from the weight of their bra straps. For some, the weight and size of the breast interferes with their active lifestyle causing distress at the gym or while exercising with some women using multiple bras when they work out. Importantly, it has the highest patient satisfaction of all plastic surgery procedures.

What can I expect after breast reduction?

Immediately after surgery there will be soreness and swelling. These are generally well controlled with pain medication with most women not needing narcotic pain medications after the first few days. Depending on the type of work, most women may return to work after a week, however, heavy lifting and rigorous activity are restricted for the first 4-6 weeks until healing has completed. Swelling continues to resolve over the first 3-6 months and we generally recommend to wait until at least 3 months to be refitted for a new bra.

Will I lose sensation in my nipples after breast reduction?

Each woman’s nipple sensation is different and following breast reduction surgery this remains true. Some women report no changes in nipple sensation while others report some sort of change whether it be increased or decreased sensation. That said, many women will generally regain sensation after about 12 months.

Will I be able to breastfeed after breast reduction?

In generally breast reduction does not preclude eventual breastfeeding. Again, all women are different, and the best predictor of ability to produce enough breast milk to breastfeed is a prior history of breastfeeding. Some women will be able to breastfeed without supplementing with formula following breast reduction, while others may need to supplement entirely. There are many factors which determine if a woman will be able to breastfeed including the type of breast reduction technique, the amount of breast tissue removed, the length of time since breast reduction as well as the mom’s own biology.

Is breast reduction covered by insurance?

Breast reduction is often covered by health insurances when determined to be medically necessary. This is most often the case in larger breasted women with a documented history of chronic health problems associated with their large breasts such as:

• Neck pain
• Back pain
• Rashes

Insurance companies may also look to see if more conservative methods of treatment have failed. These include:

• Physical therapy
• Chiropractic care
• Weight loss
• Use of pain medications

The best way to determine your eligibility is to visit your plastic surgeon for an evaluation and documentation of your medical history. 


Dr. James Economides

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