This page will give you information about a breast reduction. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.
You can also download and print a PDF version of this factsheet, with space for your own questions or notes.
What is a breast reduction?
A breast reduction is an operation to make your breasts smaller and, sometimes, to improve their shape.
What are the benefits of surgery?
Your breasts should be smaller and have a better shape.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
If you are overweight, you may be able to reduce the size of your breasts by losing weight.
You may find it easier to cope with large breasts by wearing a custom-made bra or corset.
What does the operation involve?
The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about 90 minutes.
Your surgeon will make a cut on the line of the areola (the darker area around your nipple) and a vertical cut underneath your areola.
They will remove some of your breast tissue, excess fat and skin. Your surgeon will reshape your breast and lift your nipple so it is in a higher position.
What complications can happen?
- unsightly scarring
- infection of the surgical site (wound)
- blood clots
- developing a collection of blood or fluid inside a breast
- developing a hard lump in a breast
- numbness or continued pain on the outer part of your breast
- loss of skin, including the areola and nipple
- stiff shoulder
- change of breast and nipple sensation
- reduced ability to breastfeed
- cosmetic problems
How soon will I recover?
Your breasts may look discoloured and will feel firm and swollen.
You should be able to go home the next day. You should be able to return to normal activities after 2 to 3 weeks.
You should be able to return to work after a week, depending on your type of work. You should be able to do a limited amount of activity, such as lifting young children, after about 2 weeks.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
The results of a breast reduction improve gradually over time. Your breasts should become softer and more natural.
A breast reduction is an operation to make your breasts smaller. It is suitable only for certain women. You should consider the options carefully and have realistic expectations about the results.
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Last reviewed: September 2018