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Robert Applebaum M.D.

Risks of Breast Reduction To Be Cautious About

Deciding to undergo a breast reduction is an extremely personal and sometimes scary process — which is why it helps to be as informed as possible about the procedure and the risks that come along with it. 

Here’s what you need to know about some of the risks of breast reduction surgery you should be wary about and how to effectively minimize these risks: 

What Does a Breast Reduction Surgery Entail?

A breast reduction surgery entails removing excess breast tissue to reduce the overall size of the breasts. Several different techniques are used for breast reduction surgery, depending on current breast size and desired breast size. These techniques can result in minimal scarring easily hidden around the areola and the  breast crease. 

After the incision is made, the nipple is repositioned to result in a more proportional and appealing breast. For extremely large breasts, in some rare cases  the nipple and areola may have to be completely removed and transplanted back onto the breast using a free nipple graft for extremely large breasts. 

What Are the Potential Risks of a Breast Reduction Surgery?

Any surgery comes with risks, and a breast reduction is no exception. However, it’s important to be aware of these risks before your surgery. Here are some of the potential risks and symptoms involved in a breast reduction surgery: 

  • Bleeding 
  • Blood clots
  • Breast asymmetry
  • Shoulder pain
  • Discomfort
  • Changes in nipple or breast sensation that can be either temporary or permanent
  • Damage to nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and lungs that can be either temporary or permanent
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Infection
  • Persistent pain
  • Poor wound healing
  • Partial or total loss of nipple or areola
  • Skin discoloration
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Unfavorable scarring

When Do the Benefits of a Breast Reduction Surgery Outweigh the Risks?

Since every surgery comes with risks, it’s always a good idea to weigh the risks against the benefits to determine whether surgery is the best option for you. 

The best way to assess  the risks and the benefits are to have a consultation with a Board Certified  plastic surgeon. In the meantime, here are some scenarios wherein the benefits of a breast reduction surgery outweigh the risks: 

  • The size of your breasts is limiting your ability to exercise and live a healthy lifestyle
  • The size of your breasts is causing chronic pain in your neck, back, and shoulders
  • The size of your breasts is negatively affecting your posture
  • The size of your breasts is causing skin irritations around the bra straps and under the breast crease
  • The size of your breasts is making it difficult for you to find bras and clothes that fit your bust
  • The size of your breasts makes you feel self-conscious and is negatively affecting your self-esteem
  • The size of your breasts is affecting your physical health by causing numbness or tingling in your arms or shortness of breath when lying down

The benefits of a breast reduction surgery only outweigh the risks if you’re a good candidate for the procedure, meaning that you’re in good physical health, you don’t smoke, and you have realistic expectations about the procedure. 

How To Minimize the Risks of Breast Reduction Surgery?

While there are risks involved in breast reduction surgery, there are ways that you can minimize these risks and improve the chances of a positive outcome. 

Here are three steps to follow to help your breast reduction surgery go smoothly with no complications: 

Step 1: Find the Right Plastic Surgeon

The first step to minimizing breast reduction surgery risks is finding a Board Certified plastic surgeon that performs breast reduction surgery on a regular basis. 

The right plastic surgeon will be one that’s board-certified in plastic surgery and one that has plenty of experience with this type of procedure. Also, make sure to find a plastic surgeon that has plenty of glowing reviews from patients in addition to before-and-after photographs that show their surgical results. 

The best place to look for a board-certified plastic surgeon is to run a search on the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) website. 

Step 2: Be Honest With Your Surgeon

The second step to minimizing the risks of a breast reduction surgery is to be completely honest with your surgeon before and after the procedure. 

Before the surgery, you need to inform your surgeon of any medical conditions or risk factors, including smoking. You’ll also want to let them know if your medical record includes past weight fluctuations, revision surgery from a previous breast reduction, or if you have had issues with general anesthesia. 

After the surgery, you need to feel comfortable telling your surgeon about any pain or problems you’re having related to the recovery process. 

Step 3: Follow Your Surgeon’s Post-Operative Instructions

The third and final step to minimizing the risks of a breast reduction surgery is closely following your surgeon’s post-operative instructions. These instructions exist for a reason and are designed to keep you safe and healthy throughout recovery. 

Although post-operative instructions vary from surgeon to surgeon and from patient to patient, here are some things to expect: 

  • You will be sent home wearing a surgical bra to provide pressure to the surgical site — keep wearing this based on your surgeon’s instructions
  • You will need to avoid any heavy lifting for up to six weeks after surgery
  • You will need to avoid any strenuous physical activity for up to six weeks after surgery
  • You will need to take your prescribed medications, including pain relievers and antibiotics
  • You will need to start moving around as soon as possible to reduce swelling and the chance of blood clots

Final Rundown on the Risks of a Breast Reduction

If you’re looking for the best plastic surgeon that can give you the best possible breast reduction results, look no further than Dr. Applebaum in Beverly Hills. Dr. Applebaum has nearly 30 years of plastic surgery experience. He was nominated as one of the Best Breast Surgeons in America for his innovative approach to performing the French limited incision breast reduction the “ Lollipop” reduction. 

Schedule a virtual or in-person consultation with Dr. Applebaum today to learn more about the procedure and his world-renowned technique. 


Breast Reduction Surgery | Mayo Clinic

Find a Surgeon | ASPS

Breast Reduction Surgery Guide | ABCS

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