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.
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.
Liposuction (using a thin, hollow tube to remove fat from under your skin) may be appropriate for some women to reduce breast volume.
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 excess breast tissue, fat and skin.
If your breasts are large, your surgeon may also need to make a cut on the crease under your breast (inframammary fold). This will leave an anchor-shaped scar.
What complications can happen?
Some complications can be serious and can even cause death.
General complications of any operation
- unsightly scarring of your skin
- infection of the surgical site (wound)
- blood clot in your leg
- blood clot in your lung
Specific complications of this operation
- developing a collection of blood (haematoma) or fluid (seroma) 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?
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.
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, and the scars should fade.
A breast reduction is an operation to make your breasts smaller. You should consider the options carefully and have realistic expectations about the results.
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Last reviewed: September 2019