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Medically Reviewed by:

Robert Applebaum M.D.

What to Expect After a Breast Reduction?

hile it might seem like everyone in the world wants bigger breasts (breast augmentation is the most popular cosmetic surgery procedure in the United States, after all), people with breasts that are excessively large or disproportionate to their body shape and type may feel the opposite. For these people, breast reduction surgery can offer life-changing results that help to eliminate pain, improve self-confidence, and allow people to enjoy normal daily activities. Women with large breasts, particularly those that sag, droop, or hang uncomfortably, experience a wide range of physical and emotional issues including neck, shoulder and back pain, poor self-esteem and a lifetime of physical discomfort. If you don’t have large breasts, it might seem unreasonable to think that having ample cleavage could substantially impact your lifestyle, but women with large breasts can attest to the struggles and pain they endure while trying to exercise, sleep, and perform other daily activities. Like any surgical procedure, the idea of a breast reduction can seem scary at first, but it offers the opportunity to eliminate the pain and inconvenience associated with large breasts. If you are considering a breast reduction, here’s what you need to know about the procedure and recovery.

What is breast reduction surgery?

Sometimes called reduction mammaplasty, breast reduction is a surgical procedure that removes excess fat, glandular tissue, and skin from the breasts, helping to reduce their overall size. Depending on the amount of reduction that is needed, the procedure may be performed using surgical incisions alone or surgical incisions and liposuction in order to remove excess fat from the breasts. There are several different techniques used to perform breast reductions, including the lollipop breast reduction technique and the “anchor” or “inverted-T” procedure. Dr. Applebaum performs breast reduction surgery using the lollipop breast reduction technique when possible, as it reduces scarring, but not all patients will be good candidates for this technique. The lollipop breast reduction technique uses one vertical incision from the bottom of the areola and one incision around the areola, and unlike other techniques, it does not require an incision along the bottom of the breast, helping to minimize scarring. However, lollipop breast reductions are best suited for patients who need only a moderate reduction. Women who have larger breasts that require a more substantial reduction, have significant sagging or drooping, or have noticeable asymmetry in the breasts are more likely to have the “anchor” or “inverted-T” procedure, which is more appropriate for their anatomy and specific goals. The recovery process after breast reduction surgery will vary depending on which procedure is performed.

Why do people get breast reduction surgery?

People get breast reductions because they want smaller breasts, of course, but there are significant physical and emotional symptoms that can result from having excessively large breasts. The reasons why an individual chooses to undergo a breast reduction are highly personal, but patients who experience any of the following symptoms as a result of their large breasts might find relief from a breast reduction:

  • Poor self-image due to large breasts
  • Chronic rash or skin irritation underneath the breasts
  • Chronic shoulder, back, and neck pain requiring pain medications
  • Grooves or marks on the shoulders from bra straps
  • Nerve pain
  • Poor postured due to the weight of large breasts
  • Difficulty sleeping due to discomfort from large breasts
    Restrive activity due to large breasts, such as exercise
  • Difficulty fitting into bras and clothing
  • Breasts that are noticeably unequal in size
  • Breasts that droop as a result of excess weight

Theses stymptoms are common for women with very large breasts, and many patients experience more than one symptom. Because large breasts can cause physical pain and difficulty performing daily activities, breast reduction surgery is sometimes covered by health insurance companies when sufficient cause is demonstrated.

What are the benefits of breast reduction surgery?

Because large breasts can cause so many significant physical and emotional challenges, breast reduction surgery can literally and figuratively take the weight off your shoulders. Breast reduction surgery instantly eliminates physical symptoms associated with large breasts, such as back, neck, or shoulder pain, discomfort while exercising, and shoulder grooves from bra straps digging into your skin. Women who have breast reduction surgery often report feeling more confident about their bodies in general and feel more comfortable wearing certain outfits or bathing suits. In addition to the reduction in physical pain, the improvement in self esteem and self confidence adds a significant emotional benefit. There are also many cosmetic benefits to breast reduction surgery, including:

  • A more proportionate and balanced silhouette
  • Breasts are lifted and firmer, thus appearing more youthful
  • Ease of finding comfortable and attractive bras, swimsuits, sports bras, and clothing

Large or stretched areolas and nipples can be reduced during the procedure

What type of recovery is expected after breast reduction surgery?

The recovery required after breast reduction surgery varies depending on the technique that is used. The lollipop breast reduction technique, which is appropriate for patients who need a moderate or smaller breast reduction, has shorter recovery time and does not require the use of a drain in most cases. Most patients return to work and their daily routines within three to seven days following a lollipop breast reduction procedure, and scarring is minimal. The “anchor” or “inverted-T” breast reduction technique is used for women who need a larger breast reduction, have breasts that sag or droop significantly, or have significant asymmetry of the breasts. This type of procedure requires the placement of drains under the arms, allowing excess blood and fluid to be drained from the body. Regardless of which type of procedure you have, your breasts will likely feel tender, bruised, or swollen in the first few days following surgery. Physical activity such as exercise or heavy lifting is limited for two to four weeks while the breasts heal, and strenuous exercise and weight lifting should be avoided for at least six weeks. Some people may experience changes in the sensation of their breasts or nipples, including numbness, for up to a year following surgery.


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.


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