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Medically Reviewed by:

Robert Applebaum M.D.

How Painful is a Breast Reduction Procedure

Making the decision to undergo a breast reduction procedure can be quite scary. One of the biggest concerns that patients have when making this decision comes down to pain. So how painful is a breast reduction procedure, and what else can you expect during the recovery process? Here’s what you need to know: 

What Does a Breast Reduction Procedure Entail?

During a breast reduction procedure, the surgeon will create an incision in the breast and remove excess breast tissue, fat, and skin to reduce the size of each breast to the desired size. Afterward, the surgeon will reshape the breast and reposition the nipple and areola. 

Two different techniques are used during a breast reduction procedure: a lollipop incision and an anchor incision. A lollipop incision involves making a circular incision around the areola before turning down toward the breast’s crease. An anchor incision involves making a circular incision around the areola, turning down toward the breast’s crease, and extending lengthwise along the crease. 

Your surgeon will choose the right surgical technique based on your current size and desired size. 

Who Should Consider a Breast Reduction Procedure?

If you experience any of the following symptoms associated with having large breasts, you might want to consider a breast reduction procedure: 

  • Chronic back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain due to the weight of your breasts
  • Chronic rash or skin irritation underneath the breasts due to the size
  • Restricted physical activity
  • Poor self-image or self-esteem
  • Poor posture
  • Excess skin
  • Difficulty fitting into bras and clothing

If you plan on getting pregnant or losing significant amounts of weight, you may want to postpone a breast reduction surgery for the best results. 

Some other factors to consider before getting breast reduction surgery include medical history (like family history of breast cancer or diabetes), insurance coverage, existing medical conditions, breast size, and any existing medications (like pain medications). 

What Is Recovery Like From a Breast Reduction Procedure?

A breast reduction is a serious surgical procedure that involves a healing process of recovery to heal properly. A breast reduction is usually an outpatient procedure which means that you can go home the same day. 

It’s recommended that you have someone to support you at home for at least the first few days of recovery as it will be difficult for you to complete daily tasks on your own. 

After the first few days, things should become easier. Within about a week or so, you should begin to feel a lot better. However, you will still need to take it easy for two to three weeks post-op by avoiding heavy lifting objects and exercising strenuously. 

How Painful Is a Breast Reduction Procedure?

It’s completely normal and natural to be worried about the pain involved in a serious surgical procedure. At the same time, everyone heals differently and goes through a different recovery process — so it’s almost impossible to quantify how much pain you’ll be in after a breast reduction procedure. 

However, you should know that the extent of your breast reduction procedure can affect the amount of pain experienced during the postoperative recovery period. If you’re undergoing a more extensive reduction that requires removing large amounts of tissue, then the recovery process can be longer and more painful. 

The good news is that the pain is temporary, and there are ways to manage it while you recover. Your surgeon will prescribe you pain management medications to take during your recovery in addition to other medications like antibiotics. The first few days post-op will definitely be the most painful, but the pain should start to subside after that until you’re feeling completely back to normal. 

How To Minimize Pain After a Breast Reduction Procedure?

The best way to minimize pain after a breast reduction surgery is to closely follow the post-operative instructions from your surgeon. For starters, take your medication as directed to manage your pain and prevent infections. You also need to wear your compression garment as instructed by your surgeon and avoid taking it off too early. 

Surprisingly, another way to minimize pain after your procedure is to move around. While this might seem counterintuitive, moving around gets your blood flowing and helps you heal quicker. 

At the same time, be careful to avoid strenuous physical activity based on your surgeon’s advice. Just getting out of bed and walking around can work wonders for both your pain levels and your overall recovery. 

How To Find a Surgeon for a Breast Reduction Procedure?

Another way to ensure a smooth recovery process with minimal pain after a breast reduction procedure is to find a qualified and experienced surgeon. Although you can never completely eliminate the possibility of complications with any surgical procedure, working with a great surgeon can help minimize the likelihood of potentially painful complications. 

So how can you find such a surgeon, and how can you ensure that they’re the right person for the job? The best place to look for a board-certified plastic surgeon is to search the American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. This website allows you to search for qualified surgeons in your area. It also gives you the option to filter by the procedure so that you can find a surgeon that’s experienced with breast reduction procedures. 

Once you’ve compiled a list of initial candidates, you need to narrow them down. For starters, check out their websites, patient reviews, and surgical results. From there, you can schedule a surgical consultation with them. Make sure to ask plenty of questions during your consultation so that all of your questions about the procedure are answered. 

You should feel completely confident and comfortable with your choice at the end of the day, so take all the time you need to find the right fit. 

Surgery Risks

Some of the risks that come with breast reduction surgery include:

  • Loss of sensation in the nipples
  • Allergic reaction to local anesthesia or general anesthesia
  • Scars
  • Swelling
  • Physical discomfort
  • Damage to nerves

Final Thoughts on Breast Reduction Procedures

While a breast reduction procedure may come with some pain during the recovery process, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s likely saving you from chronic pain in your back, neck, and shoulders stemming from the size of your breasts. With the right surgeon and the right postoperative diligence on your part, you can minimize your pain and get back to living your life. So reach out to Dr. Applebaum today for a breast reduction consultation! 


Medically reviewed by Dr. Robert Applebaum

Dr. Robert Applebaum is a world renowned and highly respected Plastic Surgeon who is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In his nearly 30 years as a practicing physician, Dr. Applebaum has become known as an innovator in the field of laser technology techniques for plastic surgery procedures. He has published numerous articles and scientific papers about the use of laser technology and educates physicians worldwide on the applications of laser technology for plastic surgery. Dr. Applebaum primarily practices out of his private outpatient surgery center, Four Thirty Six Aesthetic Surgery Center, which is located in Beverly Hills.


Breast Reduction Surgery Guide | ABCS

Breast Reduction Surgery | Mayo Clinic

Find a Plastic Surgeon Near Me | ASPS

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