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What Is Breast Reduction Surgery?6 min read

Plastic Surgery Image. Woman before and after breast reduction


Melanie Schwarz is a registered nurse who works closely with each of our patients to provide the quality treatment they deserve for optimal results.

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The breast reduction (also known as the reduction mammaplasty) is an increasingly popular (and often necessary) surgery that has been literally taken a weight off of people’s chests. Women who are looking for smaller, more comfortable breasts often turn to a breast reduction surgery for decreased soreness, discomfort, or pain and increased flexibility, comfort, and confidence. By removing excess fat, skin, and tissue, a surgeon is able to reduce breast size by around 1-2 cups and shape breasts to be perkier and smaller. 

Read below to see how a breast reduction works, how long a breast reduction surgery is, how breast reduction surgery is performed, and more!

How Does a Breast Reduction Work?

The breast reduction surgery procedure is usually an outpatient procedure, meaning patients can usually return home to rest the same day as the procedure. The patient will be under general anesthesia during the surgery. 

Since all breasts are unique, all breast reduction surgeries will be unique based on what is best for you and what your goals are. Generally, there are 3 areas that are put into consideration when determining surgery technique: how much of a reduction is wanted, how much the nipple needs to be raised, and how much extra skin needs to be worked with. 

How is a Breast Reduction Done?

While the patient is under, the surgeon will perform the breast reduction. He will make incisions along the breasts and areola, remove the excess fat, tissue, and skin (depending on surgery and technique, this can be done through liposuction), then reshape the breast, nipple, and skin to desired size and shape. Depending on whether a skin graft is needed, the nipple may be removed and placed higher (usually this happens with very large breasts). Sometimes, the areola is also made smaller. 

Depending on the reduction size, the surgeon can do one of three incision techniques: the donut technique, which is used for very small reductions; the lollipop technique, which is used for moderate reductions (this one is most common); and the anchor-style technique, which happens for very large reductions.

How Long Does Breast Reduction Surgery Take?

The breast reduction surgery itself usually takes 2 hours, although the entire pre-during-and-post appointment can be around 5-6 hours total. After surgery, recovery will take around a month to a month and a half before the patient can resume normal activities completely. The patient should expect to remain in bed and mostly rested for the first week or two of recovery, then slowly ease into normalcy. Make sure to follow the surgeon’s instructions for post-care — proper breast healing depends entirely on recovery!

Is Breast Reduction Painful?

At Aesthetica, we are often asked, “Does a breast reduction hurt?” During anesthesia the patient won’t feel anything. But after, it is common for women to feel sore, weak, and lethargic after surgery. It is important to follow the doctor’s instructions for medicine and proper recovery to reduce discomfort during healing. 

Stretching, soreness, liquid sloshing, bruising, tenderness, throbbing and some numbness is normal to feel after a breast reduction. While it is all bearable, it is very important not to drive, lift anything, go anywhere crowded, run, or have sex lest recovery is disrupted. Pain and swelling gradually fades away after around 2-3 weeks, and patients ought to feel stronger each day. If the patient experiences any worsening symptoms or sharp pains, then she ought to contact the doctor.

Are Breast Reduction Scars Permanent?

Another concern that most women have about breast reduction is whether breast reduction scars are permanent. As with any surgery, scars are usually permanent. However, there are many steps patients can take to reduce scarring, sometimes until they are almost entirely faded. This includes following doctor’s instructions with post-op care, being very careful with limited physical activity during recovery, and not disturbing the stitches. After complete recovery, ointments and lotions can help fade scarring. If scarring is a big concern, it is a good idea for the patient to discuss options and expectations with their doctor. 

Can I Breastfeed after Breast Reduction?

There is no “yes” or “no” answer to whether a woman can still breastfeed after a breast reduction surgery. Since a surgeon may potentially need to remove glands, milk ducts, and cut nerves during a breast reduction, it’s very important for the patient to talk with her doctor about what her expectations are. Some women have no problem breastfeeding after their breast reduction surgery while other women find it impossible. Generally, it is best to wait until after children to get a breast reduction. However, this is not always a possibility. If you want to have children after the reduction, make certain to discuss surgery options. Many techniques and certain recovery instructions can help decrease potential future breastfeeding complications.

How Much Does Breast Reduction Cost?

The cost of a breast reduction surgery  for aesthetic, confidence, and body image concerns, will average a range of around $5,000-$8,000. If a woman is interested in seeing whether health insurance can cover a breast reduction surgery, it is best for her to contact her insurance company to discuss options and plans. 

Beautiful naked girl covers the naked breast

How Will I Feel After Recovery?

Breast reductions are one of the most highly rated cosmetic procedures. Women who are looking to ease pain, discomfort, and boost their confidence because of their large breasts are thrilled with how a breast reduction gave them newfound freedom. In an illuminating blog post, writer Samantha Sasso says this about her breast reduction:

“It’s now been almost five months since my surgery. I don’t have to wear a bra 24/7 anymore, I can sleep on my side again, my nipples aren’t swollen, I can run on the treadmill without feeling like a masochist, and boy, do I love being naked. What I see in the mirror is finally what I’d always thought I should be seeing. For so much of my life, I didn’t feel like my body was actually mine. Now, I know it is.”

Ready to Learn More?

If you’re wondering whether a breast reduction might be the best cosmetic solution for you, we invite you to simply come in for a complimentary consultation with Dr. Chang or one of the cosmetic laser and injection nurses to explore whether you would make a good candidate. To find out more whether Aesthetica can help you, contact us online or at 703-729-5553 to arrange an appointment. Dr. Phillip Chang is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Northern Virginia near Leesburg, Virginia and an expert in a wide variety of cosmetic treatments.

NOTE: We don’t take insurance or work with insurance companies. Patients pay for the surgery upfront and we provide them with a superbill, and other documents they may need to apply for reimbursement.

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