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Breast Reduction

Breast reduction surgery -- also known as reduction mammoplasty -- is a procedure used to remove excess fat, tissue, and skin from the breasts. If you have large breasts, you might choose to have breast reduction surgery to ease discomfort or to achieve a breast size proportionate to your body.

You might postpone breast reduction surgery if you have certain future plans.

• Childbirth. If you haven't started a family or your family isn't yet complete, you might wait until pregnancy isn't an issue. Breast-feeding might be challenging after breast reduction surgery — although certain surgical techniques can help preserve your ability to breast-feed.

• Weight loss. If you are interested in losing weight by changing your diet and starting an exercise program, you might wait to decide if reduction mammoplasty is for you. Losing weight can often result in changes to your breast size.

Surgical techniques used for breast reduction

The specific technique used to reduce the size of your breasts can vary. The procedure might include:

• Surgery through incisions

• Liposuction to remove the excess fat in your breasts

The surgeon usually:

• Makes an incision around the areola and down each breast

• Removes excess breast tissue, fat and skin to reduce the size of each breast

• Reshapes the breast and repositions the nipple and areola

The nipple and areola:

• Usually remain attached to the breast

• Might need to be removed and then reattached at a higher position as a skin graft if your breasts are very large

Your surgeon will try to achieve symmetry between your breasts, but some variation in breast size and shape might occur. The size of the areola also might be reduced. Your incision scars might fade over time but will never completely disappear.

Immediately after surgery

Postoperative complications such as hematoma, infection may occur. Stiffness due to fat necrosis in the breast may rarely occur. It may take more time for some areas on the breast skin or nipple to completely heal. Frequent medical dressing change may be required.

• Your breasts will be covered with a gauze dressing or bandages

• A tube might be placed under each arm to drain any excess blood or fluid

• You likely will take medication for pain and antibiotics, to decrease your risk of infection

• Your breasts will probably feel tender and sensitive

• Your breasts might be swollen and bruised

• Your surgeon might recommend an elastic compression bra to protect the breasts

Successful breast reduction surgery can relieve pain in your upper back, neck and shoulders. It might also increase your ability to participate in physical activities and promote a more positive self-image.

Breast reduction surgery can help improve your self-image and your ability to participate in physical activities.

Although you'll see results immediately, remember that it can take months for the swelling to completely go down and the surgical scars to fade. The final result is generally permanent — although breast shape and size can change due to factors such as aging and weight gain or loss.