Breast Reduction

Reducing breast size

Breast reduction surgery is an optional procedure used to decrease the neck and back strain that afflicts many women with large breasts. It is often combined with a breast lift procedure, which counteracts the effects of gravity and provides a natural-looking lift to sagging breasts.

Breast Reduction Costs

The average cost of a breast reduction is between $5,000 and $10,000, which includes all surgeons' fees, facility fees, anesthesiologist fees and materials costs. Breast reduction procedures are also performed on men; expect to pay roughly $3,000 to $4,000 for a male breast reduction.

Patient Evaluation

Your plastic surgeon will evaluate your overall health and ask detailed questions about your medical history. It is vital that you disclose any personal or family history of breast cancer as well as any known allergies to medications; if you've ever had breast implants, you should also mention this.

Tell your doctor if you're currently taking any medications, if you drink alcohol or use other drugs, or if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant. The surgeon will take detailed measurements of the size and shape of your breasts and may also photograph them for your medical records.

Breast Reduction Surgical Procedures

In almost all cases, breast reduction surgery is performed with the patient under general anesthesia. Doctors usually use one of two incision techniques: the vertical scar (a straight incision from the nipple to the base of the breast) or the inferior pedicle (an inverted T-shape).

Breast liposuction can also be performed; this approach is usually reserved for males, or for female patients with smaller breasts and those for whom general anesthesia poses a health risk.

The Risks of Breast Reduction Surgery

Breast reduction risks include:

  • Scarring
  • Asymmetry of the breasts
  • Difficulty breastfeeding
  • Fluid retention and swelling
  • Altered sense of touch and changes to erogenous sensations in the breasts

As with reconstructive breast surgery, breast lifts and other cosmetic procedures, there is also a risk of an unfavorable reaction to the anesthesia. Bruising is an unavoidable side effect of surgery and may take several weeks to subside.

Recovery from Breast Reduction Procedures

Your convalescence period will likely be three to four weeks in length. Most patients are directed to wear a special supportive bra without an underwire. Bruising becomes most pronounced three to four days after surgery and will take a couple weeks to resolve.

You'll also need to avoid certain activities, including:

  • Work – most surgeons recommend patients take at least 1 to 2 weeks off, more if you work a manual labor job
  • Excessive arm use – you'll have to take it easy on activities that require heavy use of your arms for 4 to 7 days
  • Sports – you may need to take a 3- to 4-month layoff from strenuous physical activity
  • Refrain from any activity that raises your blood pressure, including sex, for 2 weeks

Alternatives to Surgery

Natural techniques claim to offer scarless breast reduction; you should treat these claims as dubious at best. If you strongly prefer a scarless breast reduction, a breast liposuction technique is your best bet, if you qualify. These natural approaches to breast reductions are based on herbal formulations; they claim to reduce cup size naturally, but scientific data is limited as few studies have actually been carried out.