What to Do for Breast Reduction Scars

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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Woman wearing bandage on breast talking to plastic surgeon

Breast reduction is surgery to remove excess tissue and skin to reduce and reshape breasts. The number, size, and location of incisions from breast reduction depends on the type of surgery performed. As incisions heal, scars normally appear red and bumpy for several weeks. Scars should fade and flatten over time. With the proper care and these breast reduction scar treatments, you can minimize the appearance of scars from breast reduction surgery by following your doctor’s care recommendations. Learn more about how scars form and other breast reduction scar treatment tips.

What Causes a Scar

Scars result from the natural healing process of an accidental or surgical wound. The wound causes a protein called collagen to build up near the damaged tissue, which helps to heal and strengthen the wound. Over time, the buildup of collagen breaks down, and the scar flattens out. Some scars may be more noticeable than others. Some factors that contribute to the appearance of scars include:

  • Delayed healing: Scars are typically more visible the longer the wound takes to heal.
  • Age and skin type: Older people tend to have less noticeable scars. Younger people often have thicker scars. People with dark skin have a higher risk of developing more noticeable scars than others.
  • Age of the scar: New scars, often called immature scars, are typically red, raised and hard. As the scar matures and the collagen breaks down, the scar fades, softens and flattens out. This process can take a year or longer.
  • Severe damage: When your skin is seriously damaged, the scar will be more obvious. This is typically not a concern with breast reduction surgery.

While you can’t change many of these contributing factors, there are things you can do to minimize the appearance of scars on your breasts after reduction surgery.

Take Care of the Surgical Site

Poor wound healing contributes to the appearance of scars, and it’s no different for breast reduction scars. Always follow your doctor’s advice on the proper way to care for your breasts and incisions as you heal from surgery. Complications, such as infection, can lead to poor healing and may cause the incision to re-open, which can increase the appearance of the scar as it heals. Some tips to decrease your chance of infection include:

  • Clean the incisions: Follow your doctor’s after-care instructions for when and how to clean your incisions.
  • Change your bandage: Change the bandage or gauze as often as your doctor recommends.
  • Keep micropore tape on the incision site: This tape helps keep the wound closed and reduces pulling and tension as it heals. Tape should be worn all the time for about six weeks. It should be changed about once a week or if it begins to peel away from the skin.
  • What for signs of infection: Contact your doctor if you have any symptoms of infection, such as an unexplained fever or warmth in the breast.
  • Keeping the skin moist. Follow your doctor’s recommendation for keeping your wound moist; this may include using a healing ointment to prevent a scab from forming during the healing process. If a scab does form, don’t pull it off.

Try Silicone Cream and Massage

Silicone has been shown to be an effective breast reduction scar treatment. Rub a silicone oil-based cream over the healed scar 3 or 4 times a day and massage for 5 to 10 minutes. Or you can put silicone gel sheets over the scar, applied every two hours. This treatment can help reduce hypertrophic scars and keloid scars, which are both discolored, raised scars.

After your incisions have healed, you can massage the scar. While this method won’t affect the color, it can help soften and flatten the scar. Using a moisturizing lotion or silicone cream, apply firm pressure using your fingertips to massage in circular, vertical and horizontal directions. Do this for about 10 minutes several times a day for 6 months or longer to promote the breakdown of collagen.

Be Patient, Find Acceptance

While scarring is inevitable, many women are very satisfied with the results of their breast reduction. Give yourself time and patience as you care for your incisions and your body after surgery. After 6 months, breast reduction scars typically begin to fade and flatten, and are less noticeable than they were shortly after surgery. Scars will continue to lighten over the next year or two. In most cases, visible scarring can be hidden by a bra and bathing suit.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Apr 15
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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.
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