Breast Reduction

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Breast Reduction



Breast reduction is a surgical procedure performed in order to decrease the size of the breasts.


Women with very large breasts (macromastia or mammary hyperplasia) seek breast reduction for relief of pain in the back, shoulder, and neck. They may also feel uncomfortable about their breast size and have difficulty finding clothing that will fit properly. Additionally, breast reduction may be needed after reconstructive surgery following the surgical removal of cancerous breast tissue (mastectomy), to make the breasts more symmetric.
Men who have enlarged breasts (gynecomastia) may also be candidates for breast reduction. However, excessive alcohol intake, smokingmarijuana, or using anabolic steroids may cause gynecomastia, and surgery is not recommended for men who continue to use these products.


Breast reduction is not recommended for women whose breasts are not fully developed or who plan to breast feed.


Breast reduction may also be called reduction mammaplasty. It is most often done in the hospital, under general anesthetic. However, studies have suggested that an outpatient procedure, using local anesthetic and mild sedation may be appropriate for some patients. The operation takes approximately two to four hours. The most commonly made incision encircles the areola (darkened area around the nipple) and extends downward and around the underside of the breast. This produces the least conspicuous scar. The excess tissue, fat, and skin are removed, and the nipple and areola are repositioned. In certain cases, liposuction (fat suctioning) is used to remove extra fat from the armpit area. A hospital stay of up to three days may be needed for recovery.
If deemed medically necessary, breast reduction is covered by some insurance plans. However, a specified amount of breast tissue may need to be removed in order to qualify for coverage. Surgeon's fees range from $4,800-$6,500 and up.


Consultation between surgeon and patient is important to ensure that the woman understands and agrees with the expected final results of the procedure. Measurements and photographs may be taken. Many doctors also recommend a mammogram before the operation, to make sure there is no cancer.


After the surgery, an elastic bandage or special supportive bra is placed over gauze bandages and drainage tubes. The bandages and tubes are removed in a day or two. The bra will need to be worn around the clock for several weeks. Stitches are removed one to three weeks after the operation. Normal activities, including sexual relations may be restricted for several weeks. Scars will typically remain red, and perhaps lumpy for up to several months, but will gradually fade and become less noticeable. It may take up to a year before the breasts achieve their final position and size.


Risks common to any operation include bleeding, infection, anesthesia reactions, or unexpected scarring. Breast reduction may result in decreased feeling in the breasts or nipples and/or impaired ability to breastfeed. When healing is complete, the breasts may be slightly uneven, or the nipples may be asymmetric.

Normal results

Smaller breast size should be achieved, and with that, the accompanying pain and discomfort should be alleviated.



American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. 44 E. Algonquin Rd., Arlington Heights, IL 60005. (847) 228-9900.

Key terms

Gynecomastia — Overly developed or enlarged breasts in a male.
Macromastia — Excessive size of the breasts.
Mammary hyperplasia — Increased size of the breast.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Surgical reduction of oversized breasts, a reconstructive procedure warranted when oversize breasts interfere with normal function and physical activity. The procedure involves removing excess breast tissue and skin, repositioning the nipple and areola and reshaping the remaining breast tissue
Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.


(ri-duk'shon) [L. reductio, leading back]
1. Restoration to a normal position, as a fractured bone, dislocated joint, or a hernia.
2. In chemistry, a type of reaction in which a substance gains electrons and positive valence is decreased. See: oxidation

breast reduction

Reduction mammaplasty.

closed reduction of fractures

The treatment of bone fractures by placing the bones in their proper position without surgery.

dorsal reduction

Surgery to decrease the size or prominence of the bridge of the nose.

fat reduction

Elimination or limitation of greasy, fatty, or oily foods from the diet (e.g., by substituting vegetables or legumes for cheeses and meats). Fat reduction is thought by some nutritionists to help reduce the risk of cancer.

fetal reduction

Pregnancy reduction.

leukocyte reduction

The removal of white blood cells from blood before transfusion to decrease the likelihood of transfusion reactions or infection of the recipient with viral diseases.

mindfulness-based stress reduction

The use of meditation and self-awareness to enhance one's ability to cope with challenging circumstances and psychological tensions.

multifetal pregnancy reduction

In multiple pregnancies (as for triplets, quadruplets), the procedure for reducing the number of fetuses, to minimize the risk of maternal and fetal complications later in the pregnancy.

open reduction of fractures

The treatment of bone fractures by the use of surgery to place the bones in their proper position.

pocket reduction

Surgery to eliminate deep periodontal spaces that have formed around teeth. Periodontal pockets are colonized and/or infected by numerous disease-causing bacteria. The periodontist peels away and surgically removes infected gum tissue surrounding the tooth, smooths uneven dental surfaces, and removes tartar before suturing healthy gum back onto the affected tooth.

pregnancy reduction

The intentional elimination of one or more fetuses carried by a woman with a multifetal pregnancy.
Synonym: fetal reduction

risk reduction

1. A decrease in the probability of an adverse outcome.
2. In biostatistics, the formula 1 - HR (the hazard ratio).
3. Any lowering of factors considered hazards for a specified disease, such as wearing a condom to lower the risk for sexually transmitted diseases, ceasing smoking to prevent lung cancer or emphysema, or lowering the intake of dietary cholesterol and fats to prevent heart disease.

salt reduction

Limiting the quantity of sodium chloride in the diet, usually to lower blood pressure or prevent fluid retention.

selective reduction

1. In radiography, the reduction of exposed silver halide crystals to black metallic silver, creating a visible image.
2. In oncology, killing or destroying tumor cells or their products with relatively little damage to healthy cells.
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners