Are You a Good Candidate for Breast Reduction?

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Breast Reduction

Breast reduction, or reduction mammaplasty, is surgery to reshape the breasts to make them smaller. It involves removing excess fat, glandular tissue, and skin to reduce breast size.

Some people seek breast reduction for cosmetic reasons. For others, breast reduction can relieve health problems from overly large breasts. 

Are There Other Treatment Options?

In most cases, doctors recommend less invasive treatments to relieve pain and other symptoms from overly large breasts. Less invasive treatments include wearing bras with wide straps and physical therapy. For men who suffer from gynecomastia, or enlarged breast tissue, doctors may recommend trying medication first.

Ask your doctor about all of your treatment options and consider getting a second opinion before deciding on breast reduction.

When to Consider Breast Reduction

You may want to consider breast reduction if the size of your breasts bothers you, is causing physical discomfort, or is affecting your life in a negative way. 

Your doctor may decide that you are a good candidate for breast reduction if:

  • The size of your breasts is out of proportion with your body.

  • One breast is disproportionately larger than the other.

  • You have discomfort, back problems, or other health problems from overly large breasts.

  • Wearing a bra with wide straps for at least 12 months has not helped.

  • Physical therapy for at least six months has not helped.

  • You are a man whose breast enlargement has not responded to medication and whose breast development is stable.

  • Your general health is good.

  • You have realistic expectations for improvement and not perfection.

Who Is NOT a Good Candidate for Breast Reduction?

You may not be a good candidate if:

  • You are pregnant, breastfeeding, or recently stopped breastfeeding.

  • You have an abnormal mammogram or an undiagnosed breast condition.

  • You have a history of poor wound healing or a clotting disorder.

  • You smoke.

  • You are severely obese.

  • You have a severe illness or infection.

What to Expect

A plastic surgeon performs breast reduction surgery in a hospital or outpatient surgery setting. You will have general anesthesia so you’re asleep during surgery or you’ll have regional anesthesia so you’re awake but comfortable during surgery.

Breast reduction surgery can be performed either as open surgery with a large incision around your areola and under your breast or as minimally invasive surgery with small incisions in your underarm or around the base of your breasts. 

You may go home the same day of surgery. In some cases, an overnight hospital stay is necessary.

You will need to wear a surgical support bra for several weeks after the procedure. It helps minimize swelling and supports your breasts while they are healing. You may also need help with household, work, and other daily activities.

Gradually, you’ll return to your normal activities and schedule. Full recovery times range from a couple of weeks to a month.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 25
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.