For women with very large breasts, having a reduction can feel like — quite literally — having a weight lifted off of their chest.
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It can relieve them from years of back, shoulder and neck pain; difficulty exercising; and rashes on their chest — not to mention limited clothing options and permanent shoulder grooves from weighted down bra straps.
But, like any other medical procedure, breast reduction surgery does have risks. It’s a personal decision that requires careful consideration of the potential pros and cons.
Start with these need-to-knows from plastic surgeon Steven Bernard, MD.
- You’ll probably (eventually) feel like a million bucks
- But you’ll be sidelined for a few weeks
- You might not be able to get the exact cup size you want
- You’ll get a breast lift, too
- You’ll have scars
- There’s a chance you’ll have decreased nipple sensation
- Insurance might cover it
- It could affect your ability to breastfeed later
- Ready to take the first step?
- I Had A Breast Reduction And Here Are 8 Questions People Always Ask Me — And Very Honest Answers
- “Why did you do it?” (usually followed by “But you didn’t look that big!”)
- “Do you regret it?”
- “What was the recovery like?”
- “How different do they look?”
- “What happened to your nipples?”
- “Will you still be able to breastfeed?”
- “How much did you actually lose?”
- “Do you really not have to wear a bra?”
- “How did your significant other react?”
- 7 Things You Need to Know Before You Get a Boob Reduction
- What Are the Risks Involved?
- What Are the Benefits of a Breast Reduction?
- Should I Wait to Have a Breast Reduction?
- How Do the Different Incisions Differ?
- What About Breast Reduction Surgery Recovery?
- Will Insurance Cover a Breast Reduction?
- Can You Experience a Loss of Sensation in Your Breasts?
- What is Breast Reduction Surgery?
- Choosing a Cosmetic Surgeon
- Breast Reduction Options
- Breast Reduction Surgery & Recovery
- Life After Breast Reduction
- Will the Results of Breast Reduction Last?
- What I Wish I’d Known About Breast Reduction Surgery Before Going Under the Knife
- 1. If you thought the worst part was over, think again.
- 2. OMG, you’re so itchy.
- 3. You literally can’t do anything.
- 4. Current thoughts: Did I make the right decision?
- 5. And if you can’t even handle a road bump…
- 6. You’re also going to lose some sensation in your breasts.
- 7. And then there are the scars.
- 8. Eventually, you’ll love your scars.
- Breast Reduction in Young Women Improves Quality of Life Decades Later New Study in Plastic And Reconstructive Surgery Compares Long-Term Patient Outcomes, Including Sexual Well-Being and Satisfaction With Breasts
- My health has improved
- My self-esteem has improved
- My wardrobe choices have improved
- My overall wellbeing has improved
- Read up on my breast reduction journey:
- The Set Up
- Online Consult
- Leading Up to Breast Reduction Surgery
- Researching to Prepare for Surgery
- Day Before Surgery
- Day of Breast Reduction Surgery
- The Hours Following Surgery
- The Day Following Surgery
- But What About the Drains?
- The Week Following Surgery
- Summarizing of my tips for breast reduction surgery
- Lynn Dury’s breast reduction story – Breast Reduction – Breast Surgery
You’ll probably (eventually) feel like a million bucks
A number of studies have found that women who have breast reduction surgery commonly feel a boost in their self-esteem, body image and physical health afterward.
“It has one of the highest satisfaction rates of all the procedures we do,” Dr. Bernard says.
In one study, 95% of patients said they felt satisfied with the results.
But you’ll be sidelined for a few weeks
The surgery itself is an outpatient procedure that only takes about three hours, Dr. Bernard says. Women typically go home on the same day or the next morning. But you’ll likely feel tired and sore afterward, so plan to take a few days off from work or school to recover. You’ll be encouraged to get up and move around regularly, but you’ll have to put off any kind of rigorous exercise for about a month, he says.
You might not be able to get the exact cup size you want
How much your breasts can be reduced depends on your size, breast composition and goals. During your consultation, your plastic surgeons will help you determine the best plan. Most breast reduction patients go down one to two cup sizes, Dr. Bernard says.
You’ll get a breast lift, too
The procedure is actually a twofer: Your surgeon will remove excess tissue and skin to make your breasts smaller, and then move the nipples up in position to give them a lift.
You’ll have scars
The incision wounds (they usually look like lollipops that circle around the nipples and go straight down to the bottom of the breast) will be swollen for a while. “In most people, the scars improve significantly within a year after surgery, but they’re always there,” Dr. Bernard says.
“With scars, it’s just as much genetics as anything. Every plastic surgeon can do good job of closing a wound, so it just depends on the person.”
There’s a chance you’ll have decreased nipple sensation
Immediately after surgery, your nipples might feel numb. “Some sensation in the nipples almost always comes back, but it might take a month or two,” Dr. Bernard says. Certain surgical techniques are more likely to preserve nipple sensation, so be sure to bring this up to your surgeon if it is a concern for you.
Insurance might cover it
Some insurance companies cover part or all of the cost of breast reduction surgery if you’re having it to relieve physical problems like back pain or skin problems. Your surgeon can help you gather the necessary information and measurements to send to the insurance company before surgery. It usually takes about a month for them to approve or deny the request, Dr. Bernard says.
It could affect your ability to breastfeed later
There’s about a 50/50 chance that a woman might find it difficult — but not necessarily impossible — to breastfeed if she has a breast reduction, Dr. Bernard estimates. “But it’s hard to predict who might have that problem,” he says.
Ready to take the first step?
Start by setting up a consultation with a surgeon who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery at a reputable medical center near you.
Ask the surgeon for before and after photos of past patients with a similar body type as you, and inquire about his or her experience performing the operation. “Even new plastic surgeons have had pretty good experience during their residency,” Dr. Bernard says. “It’s one of the most common things we’ve done.”
I ended up getting the procedure anyway, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. And I wish, more than anything, I could go back in time and tell my younger self that I should have done this years sooner. That life could be so much better. That it wasn’t a bad recovery at all, that the scars are like nothing, that yes, I do still have feeling in my nipples and that no, I’d never have to wear a bra again. But mainly, that I was not defined by my breasts, and that I’d be the same exact person I was pre-surgery — just a much more comfortable and confident one.
But I knew none of this going into the surgery — and no one should have to make a life-changing decision in the dark like that. So I spoke with d Alyssa Golas, MD, plastic surgeon at NYU Langone Health and asked her all the questions I wish I had asked in advance, so you don’t have to. Because sometimes it’s scary to inquire first. I would know.
Read on for all your frequently asked questions about breast reductions, answered.
Who is a good candidate for breast reduction surgery?
“The best candidates for breast reduction surgery are,” Dr. Golas explained, “healthy people who have large breasts (the medical term is “macromastia”), and whose breasts are causing them to experience negative symptoms such as back, neck or shoulder pain, or rashes beneath the breasts.”
How old do you have to be to get one?
According to Dr. Golas, there is no age minimum for breast reduction. That said, “most surgeons will wait until breast development is complete (i.e., that your breast size is stable for 1-2 years) before surgery,” she said. “In extreme circumstances, if your breasts are so large that they are significantly interfering with your ability to participate in normal activities, your surgeon may agree to do the procedure sooner. In addition, potential patients should be old enough to understand the risks and benefits of surgery.”
Are breast reductions covered by medical insurance?
“Most of the time, yes,” said Dr. Golas. “However, your insurance company will often want proof that your breasts have been causing you pain or rashes (see question #1) before agreeing to pay for the surgery. They may also want to know that less drastic (non-surgical) measures haven’t helped your symptoms. For example, some companies will ask you to try oral pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for 3-6 months before approving you (remember to discuss it with your doctor before starting any new medication), or ask you to do physical therapy to help your back pain before giving you the OK.”
“They may ask your doctor for a copy of your medical records to see how long you have been having pain,” she adds. “Most insurance companies will even want to see pictures of your breasts before agreeing to pay (so don’t be alarmed when your doctor asks to take pictures). However, all insurance companies are different, so call yours first to get an idea of what the requirements are.”
How should I prepare for surgery?
“You should try to be in your best health before any surgery. Schedule a checkup with your medical doctor or pediatrician, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. Most importantly, stop using ALL tobacco products: this means cigarettes, hookah, vaping.”
How exactly does the procedure work? Is it painful?
“Usually you will go to the hospital the morning of the surgery and go home either the same day or the next day. You will be totally asleep under anesthesia during the surgery and won’t feel or remember any of it,” Dr. Golas explained. “Although you will wake up in the operating room after the surgery has finished, most patients only remember things beginning in the recovery room.”
I Had A Breast Reduction And Here Are 8 Questions People Always Ask Me — And Very Honest Answers
Almost exactly a year ago, I underwent reductive mammoplasty. Yep, I had a breast reduction. A boob job. (People don’t like to use that term when you’re going smaller, but let’s call it for what it is, eh?) I had a medical need to have part of my breasts removed, but honestly, that was just the nudge I needed for something I always wanted to do. But I don’t want to focus on that, because I do not believe that you need a reason to augment your body. And in retrospect, having the guts to do what I wanted in the first place would have saved me a lot of headaches (literally and metaphorically).
On the day of my surgery, I went to sleep with 34 DDD cups (and that was when I was at my most normal, typical weight) and I woke up a size 34C, 250+ stitches, and a huge weight lifted off my back … and chest, and heart, and head. It was the best thing I ever did. I do still have some scarring, but it’s fading gradually. I don’t have weekly trips to a massage therapist, or headaches from not being able to sit at a desk for an entire day. In conjunction with having lost a lot of weight, I now wear dresses 3-4 sizes smaller than I did in college, and for the first time, my cleavage doesn’t spill out of everything I wear (that is, unless I want it to.)
This was me about a half hour after waking up from the surgery. A lot of people have wanted to know a lot of things about it. I guess any kind of physical augmentation is interesting to people, but perhaps especially one so deeply associated with femininity. Regardless, here are the most common Q’s (and the totally honest A’s):
“Why did you do it?” (usually followed by “But you didn’t look that big!”)
I did it out of medical necessity. But you know what? I didn’t need that reason. I could have done it because I had huge breasts and, shockingly enough, I care more about my personal comfort than living up to a social ideal. I also did it because I was generally miserable with my chest size. I had shoulder and neck pain almost constantly, took Tylenol most days, couldn’t wear a lot of clothes, and felt generally so out of proportion that I was uncomfortable with myself. As for the whole “But you didn’t look that big!” thing, I think that’s meant to be a compliment (?), but it’s not, because all I hear is: “You didn’t appear to need to do it. Your appearance wasn’t bothering me, so why did you?”
To that, all I can say is: No shit. I know I didn’t “look that big.” When you get to the point of needing to surgically reduce the size of your breasts, you’re usually already taking steps to reduce your daily discomfort. I wore a size XS sports bra over my $75 memory foam specially-wired bra that made my chest look about half the size it was. I never wore shirts that were tight around my waist, because the difference was unflattering. Of course I didn’t “look that big.” I went out of my way to make sure I didn’t.
“Do you regret it?”
Not for one second. I have actually stopped and asked myself, “Are you sure you’re not going to regret not regretting it?” I say this to a lot of people, and mean it sincerely: It changed my life. It changed my lifestyle. It changed the way I physically feel every single day. I had heard from a number of people who had it done that it was the best decision of their lives, and I rally with them too now. (It was. It seriously was.)
“What was the recovery like?”
Pretty painless. I left the hospital an hour post-op. This was me when I got home:
I took a Percocet when I woke up, but after that, I didn’t need more than a little bit of Tylenol (my breasts were numbed with Novocain). I literally didn’t feel anything. Actually, that was the tricky part: I was so numb that I had to make sure I was still and careful enough, because I couldn’t really sense if I was tearing a stitch or doing something that otherwise compromised the healing process.
Basically, I took a few days off work, spent a day in bed, had an excuse not to carry crap for a few weeks, and then went about my life as usual.
“How different do they look?”
Very different! The process ultimately lifts and reshapes them, so they don’t look anything like my natural breasts, but I’m getting to know them. How many people get to have two great pairs of boobs in one lifetime? (A lucky few, that’s who).
“What happened to your nipples?”
So, I still have my real ones, but the areola was cut so that it would be a size that was proportionate to my new breast, and the smaller nipple was moved up, so as to lift them. But yeah, the actual nipple is still mine, just smaller.
“Will you still be able to breastfeed?”
Yes. That was something very important to me. But I dislike this question, because it almost suggests there’s something wrong with not breastfeeding, or that my breasts would somehow be less real if they weren’t able to perform that function.
“How much did you actually lose?”
Four cup sizes. Between four and seven pounds (I don’t really know because I also lost weight while recovering). 3-4 dress sizes. An untold amount of physical pain, strain, stress and discomfort.
“Do you really not have to wear a bra?”
Yeah! The myth is true! I do not have to wear a bra anymore. You can’t tell the difference. The way they were reshaped makes them look as though they are naturally positioned as a bra would do. It’s amazing.
“How did your significant other react?”
I don’t appreciate this question, and I don’t think anybody who has, is having, or has had a breast reduction would. (Who cares how they react? If they’re unhappy about it, they’re kinda assholes anyway???) The answer: I wasn’t dating anybody at the time, but nobody who I’ve been with since has really cared (even when the scarring was worse). If anything, the collective opinion seemed to be pride that I had done that for myself, or interested because (especially at first) they looked really different, but otherwise pleased. Boobs tend to have that effect on people.
Images: asitansuave/Flickr; Brianna Wiest(3)
7 Things You Need to Know Before You Get a Boob Reduction
Boobs are great and all, but if you happen to have an ample set of assets that are seriously heavy to carry around all day, they can become annoying AF. This is why we’re loving celebs like Amber Rose, Stassi Schroeder and Ariel Winter for speaking out about their own experience with this very issue and subsequent breast reductions.
Below left, Ariel Winter in 2015 at the SAG Awards size 32F, and right, at the 2017 SAG Awards, size 34D. At just 5′ 1” (155cm), Ariel said that before her breast reduction “It started to hurt so bad that I couldn’t take the pain,” and that afterward, she felt like a new person.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeon’s, there was even a dramatic spike in breast reduction surgeries in 2017, increasing by 11%. Well, if you’re dealing with neck, shoulder and back pain, self-confidence issues and the frustrating task of having to go swimsuit or lingerie shopping in an entirely different section of the store, we can see why there’s a spike. And even though this surgery can be costly (the same study found the average surgeon cost of a breast reduction was $5,482, while the top doctors can pull in $10,000+), they’re worth it if you want to rid yourself of the aforementioned burdens.
But before you do, you should still consider the risks involved, downtime, and different types of scars, which is why we spoke to seven of the top plastic surgeons around the world to arm you with all the knowledge you need to feel solid in your decision. Whether you want to go smaller for health reasons or simply because you prefer a different look, there’s a lot to consider before going under the knife. Allow us to break it all down.
What Are the Risks Involved?
“There are the general risks of every operation which include bleeding, infection, hematoma (blood collection) and seroma (fluid collection). Having a breast reduction does not mean that you absolutely cannot breastfeed afterward, but it does decrease the chance to about 50/50. Also, there is the rare complication of nipple loss, meaning that you would have to have your nipple reconstructed. This is more common in very large breasted women, but still, the chances are low.” – Dr. Melissa Doft of Doft Plastic Surgery, a Park Avenue Plastic Surgeon.
What Are the Benefits of a Breast Reduction?
“There are many reasons why a woman may seek to have a breast reduction. In addition to the obvious visible decrease in size, there are many physical benefits as well. The most common reason women seek the surgery is actually not cosmetic but as a treatment to address chronic neck and back pain caused by disproportionately large breasts. In addition to the physical limitations, breasts that are too large can cause embarrassment and make some women feel self-conscious about their bodies.
“After the procedure, women usually experience an improvement in both physical well-being and self-esteem. Not only are the breast reduced in size, but they are lifted, and the areola is also reduced proportionately. One of the most common concerns is about scarring, however, incisions on the breast actually heal very well and fade with time. Satisfaction rate after breast reduction surgery is amongst the highest of any procedures in plastic surgery.” – Dr. Adam H. Hamawy, a New Jersey Based Plastic Surgeon.
Should I Wait to Have a Breast Reduction?
“A woman I operated on a few weeks ago had nearly four pounds of breast tissue removed — imagine a four-pound dumbbell hanging around your neck? No thank you. In 20 years I have not had a single patient that regrets their decision, yet I have had many that say they wish they did the surgery sooner. Waiting longer can limit sports activity and can grossly affect your posture on top, in addition to causing pain and infection to the breast fold area.
“While most people don’t look forward to a surgery for fear of pain and/or complications, which are rare, the positive end results are life-changing: your clothes fit better, you stand up straighter, and you feel more confident and healthy. In many cases this surgery is also viewed as medically necessary and covered by health insurance, so keep that in mind before putting it off further.” – Dr. Sharon Giese, a New York City Based Plastic Surgeon.
How Do the Different Incisions Differ?
“The amount of scarring depends on the technique used. The popular ‘anchor’ incision technique makes a scar around the areola, down the breast and across the inframammary crease (under the breasts), but my preferred technique is the ‘lollipop.’ This makes a scar around the areola and down the breasts, but it’s half of the scarring of the anchor technique and requires less downtime (five to seven days) versus two to three weeks of downtime.
“Another thing I would add is that most patients are candidates for the limited incision lollipop technique instead of the larger incision anchor technique. However, most plastic surgeons don’t use the lollipop technique so you should ask a board-certified plastic surgeon to perform the lollipop if you desire a smaller incision.” – Norman Rowe, MD, Diplomate, American Board of Plastic Surgery of Rowe Plastic Surgery.
What About Breast Reduction Surgery Recovery?
“Breast reduction procedures are most often performed as an outpatient procedure, but they should be performed at an accredited ambulatory surgical facility or a hospital by an American Board of Plastic Surgery board-certified surgeon. Within the first week, you will begin to move more comfortably and may be able to return to work in about ten days (at a non-strenuous job and possibly longer for physical jobs), and a small surgical drain is often used, which is removed in one to three days. The bruising will typically last one to two weeks, but swelling can persist for up to several weeks. I usually tell my patients to shop for a bra size after eight weeks and by three months post-surgery, patients have resumed normal activity and physical exercising.
“As for your scars, most surgeons use dissolving sutures which can lead to better scar cosmesis followed by at least six months of active scar care. Pressure application to scars also leads to more flattening and better results, so I have patients apply protective tape or silicone strips to their scars for six weeks, followed by scar cream with cross-linking silicone for six months (I use BioCorneum). Another common finding following breast reduction is dry and itchy skin. The blood flow to lower breast skin is temporarily altered post-surgery leaving skin pink and dehydrated, so moisture and hydration is important to avoid skin breakdown and irritation. I find Pure Marula Oil to be very effective in keeping skin hydrated and protected during this phase since it’s so soothing and calming to the skin.” – Ashton Kaidi, MD, FACS of Plastic Surgery Inc.
Will Insurance Cover a Breast Reduction?
“When patients ask if insurance will cover the procedure, the answer depends on two things: certain clinical criteria and whether or not the plastic surgeon accepts your insurance. The clinical criteria usually have to be met in order for your insurance to cover the procedure, and some insurance companies require documentation by a non-plastic surgeon physician. This documentation would need to show that you have actually experienced symptoms like neck and back pain, bra strap grooving on the shoulders and/or skin rashes, which can develop between or underneath the breasts as the result of skin rubbing against skin. Often times insurance companies will also ask for the surgeon to predict the amount of tissue to be removed, and that amount has to meet a minimum standard set by the insurance company. If your plastic surgeon accepts your insurance, then you will not have out-of-pocket costs, but many plastic surgeons are out-of-network providers at best. In those instances — if you have out-of-network benefits — your insurance company may pay for all or part of your surgery.” – David Cangello, MD, FACS at Cangello Plastic Surgery.
Can You Experience a Loss of Sensation in Your Breasts?
“Yes, some women can lose sensation in their nipples, as well as the ability for the nipple(s) to become erect after breast reduction surgery. This happens when the nerve supply to the nipple becomes irritated or damaged during surgery. In many cases the sensation returns (partially or completely) after several weeks and months, and only in some cases, it remains a permanent loss. Interestingly though, some women experience more sensation in their nipples after breast reduction surgery than before, which in most cases it is felt to be a pleasant surprise.” – Franziska Huettner, MD, FACS of Plastic Surgery Group of NYC.
Having a breast reduction is a very personal decision, and if it’s something that you feel is right for you, we say go for it! Let us know if you have any other questions in the comments below.
What is Breast Reduction Surgery?
Breast reduction is a cosmetic surgery procedure that reduces the size and weight of large, heavy breasts, helping to create a more aesthetically pleasing breast contour that is better proportioned to a patient’s body. By removing excess breast tissue, fat, and sagging, stretched skin, a cosmetic surgeon can not only make the breasts smaller, lighter, and firmer, but also improve breast symmetry and eliminate sagging.
While many patients choose breast reduction to alleviate physical symptoms such as back, neck or shoulder pain, shoulder grooves, or discomfort while exercising, the cosmetic benefits of breast reduction should not be overlooked:
- Your breast will be lifted and firmer, helping you look more youthful
- Bras will fit more comfortably and attractively
- With better proportioned breasts, your overall silhouette will be more balanced and attractive
- Stretched areolas and/or large nipples can be reduced during the same procedure, helping you look better in and out of clothing
- Swimsuits, sports bras, and form-fitting clothes will look and feel better, helping boost your confidence during activity
Choosing a Cosmetic Surgeon
If you’re considering having a breast reduction, choosing a cosmetic surgeon is the most important decision you’ll make. While some in the plastic surgery field consider breast reduction to be a reconstructive procedure, a patient’s goal is rarely to solely correct physical symptoms without any consideration for aesthetic improvements. You should feel confident that your cosmetic surgeon can both reduce your breasts to the right size to alleviate any discomfort caused by large breasts and create a more beautiful breast shape that looks natural with your body.
When you visit potential surgeons, ask how frequently he/she performs breast reduction surgery and how many total procedures that surgeon has performed. View before and after photos, not just on a surgeon’s website but also during your consultation, paying close attention to the results of patients whose “before” photos look similar to you and whose breasts in the “after” photos look good to you—this will help you understand a cosmetic surgeon’s aesthetic style, which will play a significant role in how your breasts will look after surgery.
” SEARCH FOR AN ABCS COSMETIC SURGEON
Make sure your cosmetic surgeon is board certified; this ensures that he or she is specifically trained and experienced in cosmetic surgery and that your procedure will take place in an accredited facility, which is essential for your safety. Finally, don’t choose a cosmetic surgeon based on price alone. Your safety & results are too important. Most cosmetic surgeons offer financing options to help patients budget procedure costs.
Breast Reduction Options
Cosmetic surgeons can use one of several different surgical techniques when performing breast reduction; which technique a surgeon will use for any given patient depends on the patient’s existing breast anatomy, the type and amount of tissue to be removed, and the patient’s desired outcome.
Liposuction for Breast Reduction
In certain cases, breast reduction can be performed using liposuction alone.
The advantages of liposuction for breast reduction are a shorter, less invasive procedure, virtually undetectable scars on the breast, and lasting results. However, this technique will only achieve optimal results in certain patients. The best candidates are those who need or desire a slight to moderate reduction in breast size, have good skin elasticity and little to no sagging to correct, and whose excess breast size is largely due to excess fatty tissue.
If you have sagging, asymmetrical breasts, stretched skin, or a more significant amount of tissue to remove, one of the next breast reduction techniques will probably benefit you the most.
Vertical or “Lollipop” Breast Reduction
Patients who need a moderate reduction in breast size and have more noticeable sagging are often good candidates for a vertical breast reduction. This involves two incision sites: one is around the edge of the areola, and a second incision running vertically from the bottom of the areola to the inframammary fold, or the crease beneath the breast. This incision pattern allows a cosmetic surgeon to remove excess fat, skin and breast tissue, reshape the new smaller breast internally, and lift the breast into a more youthful position.
While a vertical breast reduction leaves some scarring on the breast, it is limited to the area below the nipple and therefore can be easily hidden beneath a bra or bikini top.
Inverted-T or “Anchor” Breast Reduction
The inverted-T breast reduction involves 3 incisions: one around the edge of the areola, one vertically from the areola to the breast crease, and one made along the crease underneath the breast. Because this technique allows for the maximum degree of tissue removal and reshaping, cosmetic surgeons will typically use this approach if a patient needs a more significant breast size reduction and/or has considerable sagging or asymmetry to correct.
The scars resulting from an inverted-T or anchor breast reduction are similar to those from a vertical reduction, with one additional, thin scar running along the crease beneath the breast. With proper care, scars typically fade considerably over the first year or so after surgery and are easily concealed by clothing, even a bikini top.
Breast Reduction Surgery & Recovery
Breast reduction surgery is typically performed as an outpatient procedure using general anesthesia or intravenous sedation with local anesthesia. After making the incisions using one of the techniques described above, your cosmetic surgeon will remove excess breast tissue, fat, and skin, moving the nipple/areola complex to a higher, more forward position on the chest. The remaining breast tissue and skin will be reshaped and closed with dissolvable sutures. The areolas can be reduced to a more proportional size during the procedure as well.
After spending a brief time in supervised recovery, you will be able to go home that same day to continue your recovery. Your chest will be bandaged, and you may be sent home in a surgical bra. You can expect to feel considerable soreness the first couple of days after your procedure, and your cosmetic surgeon will prescribe pain medication to help keep you comfortable during this initial period. Gently placing ice packs on top of the bandages can help alleviate discomfort as well.
The amount of time you need to recover from breast reduction will depend on your natural healing rate as well as the extent of surgery performed. You will be able to get up and walk around the same day of surgery, although you should have a trusted adult with you during the first 24 hours. While you may be permitted to shower a few days after surgery, you will probably need help getting dressed, as you will not have full range of motion in your chest and shoulders at first.
Most patients feel ready to drive and return to a desk job within 1 week, after they are no longer taking prescription pain medication. Your cosmetic surgeon will likely have you wait a minimum of 3 to 4 weeks before resuming exercise other than walking; this helps to ensure your incisions heal properly. It is essential to follow your cosmetic surgeon’s regarding activity after breast reduction.
Life After Breast Reduction
Because it both alleviates physical and emotional discomfort and enhances a patient’s appearance, breast reduction can be one of the most rewarding cosmetic surgery procedures. Patients note an increase in self-confidence as well as a renewed sense of freedom to wear the clothes they want to wear and participate in physical activities they had previously avoided.
While many patients experience an immediate relief from back and shoulder pain after breast reduction, it is important to understand that it will take some time for your final results to settle in. Swelling, soreness, and tingling are typical after breast reduction, so your new smaller breasts may appear a little larger than you had expected while initial swelling is present. Additionally, the breasts often heal at a different rate, so you may notice some asymmetry during the first few months of your recovery.
After about 2-3 months, your final results will be more or less in place and you can shop for new bras with confidence. However, you may notice subtle changes for the first 6 to 12 months.
Will the Results of Breast Reduction Last?
After breast reduction, you can expect to enjoy smaller, lighter breasts for a lifetime, so long as you maintain a stable weight and do not have any more children. However, nothing can stop the normal aging process. Eventually your breasts will probably begin to sag once again, although not as severely as they might have before breast reduction.
Also, future pregnancies are likely to change the shape, size, and appearance of your breasts, possibly reversing some of the positive changes made during breast reduction. If you are planning to have more children, talk to your cosmetic surgeon. He or she can help you weigh the pros and cons of having surgery now or waiting until you have finished having children.
If you have questions about breast reduction or are considering having surgery, we encourage you to consult with a board certified cosmetic surgeon, who can help you learn more about how this procedure might help you. You can find cosmetic surgeons in your area by using our ABCS Find-a-Surgeon tool.
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What I Wish I’d Known About Breast Reduction Surgery Before Going Under the Knife
When I graduated from high school, I made the biggest decision of my life: I was going to get a breast reduction. I was 18 and had only just entered adulthood, and reluctant to go under the knife for such a serious surgery-but I felt like I just couldn’t put it off any longer without sacrificing both my mental and physical well-being.
At a petite 5 feet 3 inches tall, I had come to hate my 32G bust size. There was, of course, the fact that people were constantly staring at my chest rather than my eyes. But more importantly, I couldn’t fathom looking at my naked body in the mirror. Saggy and drooping breasts-every teenage girl’s dream, right?! My self-esteem and body confidence were basically nonexistent.
Just to put my breasts into perspective for you:
- I couldn’t fit into normal bras or bathing suits. Seriously, I just couldn’t find a bathing suit top or sports bra that fit. Shopping excursions just ended in disappointment and frustration time after time. I finally just stopped even trying, wanting to avoid the trauma of the experience. You’re probably wondering, so how I did swim? I usually didn’t. Though if I did, which was rare, I’d wear a t-shirt or a Speedo one-piece (clearly sticking out on the beach like a sore thumb with all my friends in cute bikinis) with two or three sports bras underneath that didn’t fit or support me. Oh, and to find a basic bra to fit me required a visit to a specialty lingerie store for a custom fitting (that means $100+ for a bra). Definitely no Victoria’s Secret for me.
- The back pain was seriously terrible. So bad in fact, that I had to hang up my dance shoes and leotards, and end my six-year dancing and gymnastics career once the size of my breasts got out of hand, which was when I was about 14. After that, my 10 years of piano playing had to come to an end due to the pain I’d endure while playing an eight-minute sonata. Slowly, things started chipping away and I felt as if I was a teenager living in 60-year-old woman’s body. (And I looked like one too: My posture was so bad, I actually couldn’t stand or sit up straight.)
- Oh, and I definitely couldn’t work out either. It was completely out of the question-and it was something I was in dire need of because I was no longer in shape. (Want to know how people with big boobs feel like when exercising? Here are 11 thoughts everyone with big boobs has during a yoga class.)
I had never gotten a surgical procedure done before. I was a nervous wreck. So nervous that when my plastic surgeon, Mark Schwartz, M.D., F.A.C.S., started to draw incision lines around my nipples, down my breast, and under-sort of like an anchor-I passed out. That was a first for me, too.
But I did it. Although the surgery was supposed to take just two and a half hours, I ended up being under the knife for four and half because the doctor and his staff underestimated my breast size. (Seriously!) He removed 450 grams of tissue from my left breast and 350 grams from my right, leaving me a 32C-the smallest size possible that was proportionate to my body. (Here are seven things you didn’t know about boobs.)
As most people who have had the procedure done will tell you, it’s life-changing. I was able to do the simple things I hadn’t been able to do before like standing up straight, properly fitting into clothes, and working out. While I wouldn’t change my decision for all the money in the world, there’s certainly a whole lot-including the physical pain and mental highs and lows of the recovery process that nobody likes to talk about-and what I wish I had a heads’ up on. (And yes, there’s a lot I’m still dealing with today, nearly three years later.)
Here, the unfiltered truth about post–breast reduction surgery.
1. If you thought the worst part was over, think again.
Once the sedatives and drugs wear off post-surgery, and that throb of pain and wave of nausea hit you, you’re in for what feels like the longest road to recovery-ever. And it kind of is. Imagine period boobs, but like 3 gajillion times worse. And, hate to break it to you, but chances are your surgeon will be attaching fluid draining tubes into your incisions, which will stay there for about a week. (Basically, it’s a long thin tube connected to a small part of your incision that drains out unwanted buildup of fluid into a mini suction bulb at the end, post-surgery.) I looked like the Terminator or some sort of robot with wires coming out of my chest. And that’s not even the worst part of it. I had to drain each tube into a measuring cup every couple of hours and record how much fluid came out. Let’s just say I’ve sworn off of any ruby-colored juice since. **CRINGE**
2. OMG, you’re so itchy.
Think back to a time you had a mosquito bite or irritation, and scratched it (even though you’re not supposed to). Now imagine being itchy on recovering scars with stitches, and not being able to scratch them-AT ALL. I finally understood what it must be like to have a hard cast on a broken arm or leg. It’s not a fun feeling. But since I wasn’t in a hard cast and I was on high doses of painkillers, what the worst that can happen? Maybe I can get a little scratch in. WRONG. Don’t. Do. It. (Or be prepared for some of the worst throbbing pain you can imagine.)
3. You literally can’t do anything.
When you can finally force yourself out of bed, you literally can’t do anything. Doctors usually tell you not to carry anything substantially heavy for two to four weeks. THAT’S BECAUSE YOU LITERALLY PHYSICALLY CAN’T. Don’t even attempt to grab the pint of milk from the fridge for your coffee-you’re wasting your time. And for the love of God, don’t try to see if you can lift your bag yet. And feeling so helpless for the next month or so takes a mental toll too. It’s frustrating not being able to do things you normally would. Like, say, showering. (Yep-showering is quite the procedure since you can’t get your chest wet.) While I didn’t think the recovery period wasn’t going to be so bad, I was definitely in for a rude awakening. And yes, I was dramatic about it.
4. Current thoughts: Did I make the right decision?
Walking up and down the stairs is going to take a while, granny. By the time you make it to the top or bottom, you’re going to be wet with sweat and in need of a vacation ASAP. Just take your time, and if you need to be somewhere, give yourself an extra hour-that’s the drama queen side of me kicking in again. Oh, and if you’re in a moving vehicle, just pray you don’t go over a bump. Trust me on that one. Those are just a few of the many painful things you’ll endure once you’re off painkillers. And unfortunately, the pain is going to last for a quite a while. The good news? The pain subsides as time goes on. The only words of advice I can give you is to be patient. And yes, you made the right decision.
5. And if you can’t even handle a road bump…
…what in the world makes you think you’ll be able to handle a trip to the gym? Word of advice: Work out when your body is ready to. After a month, I thought I’d be ready to get back into the swing of things, and I only did more harm than good-aka back to two doses of ibuprofen every four to six hours. And when I was finally able and capable of working out again, it was an adjustment. If you do the math, I hadn’t really been so active for four years, so there was a slight depression that washed over me as I tried to build my fitness up again. Not to mention, I was really reluctant to work out too much during that first year since I was nervous I would do some serious harm to my body. I felt delicate. But I was determined to get back into shape and slowly regain my strength. Eventually, I could work out for an hour straight without pain or stopping to catch my breath. And it was amazing being able to enjoy the things I loved most as a kid again, like running, dancing, and playing sports. You could say it was a figurative and literal weight off my chest.
6. You’re also going to lose some sensation in your breasts.
For over a year, my boobs were numb-if you tried to pinch me, I wouldn’t feel it. Today that numbness has subsided, but I’ve lost most, if not all, sensation in my nipples. Yes, it’s a bummer and I’m still coming to terms with it. (Interestingly, while I was recovering, my nipples were super sensitive when something brushed passed them-and I’m not talking the good sensitive. If a small, cool breeze swept by me, I’d see stars.) There’s also the fact that I still experience sharp pangs in my scars-probably from the nerves-that can last for a couple of seconds and bring me back to those gruesome memories of the post-recovery pain.
7. And then there are the scars.
Those are inevitable. The doctor will give you some sort of silicone patch or cream to apply onto the incisions, but it’s not going to do much. If you’re like me and your scars turn keloidal (a bumpy, raised scar caused by excess collagen), you might want to resort to more extreme measures, like a laser procedure. While the process isn’t so bad (the doctors numb your breasts and then target the incisions with a laser) the recovery was rough. My breasts ached and were extremely sensitive, and my scars formed scabs. Since it was like going through surgery round two, I never returned for more sessions. (Another method is through injectables using steroids, but due to my fear of needles, that’s going to be a no from me.)
8. Eventually, you’ll love your scars.
Whether you like it or not, you’re going to have those scars for a long time, maybe even forever. I’ve actually learned to embrace mine. It certainly helps having a significant other like mine who has accepted me and my body-flaws and all. Just be prepared for what’s to come. While I had to give up some aesthetics, it was worth it for my happiness. As cliché as it sounds, I’ve learned that life really is too short to care about the small things. So go ahead and rock your scars if they peek out in a bathing suit or if you’re showing off some side boob. For me, they’re a small price to pay for the freedom to do the things I love again.
- By By Sophie Dweck
People used to make fun of me for not having any boobs. In middle school, while all of my friends were graduating to underwires, I was stuck in a training bra.
It sucked. But then, the seventh grade hit, and I started growing a cup size every year—until I had ballooned to a 34I by the time I graduated college. Yes, an I. Unfortunately, boobs do come that big. And mine had.
With about eight to 10 extra pounds hanging from my chest—seriously, try strapping a kettlebell to yours and see how you do—my shoulders were perpetually hunched, my back hurt, and I felt more awkward than I had as a flat-chested middle schooler.
Bra stores constantly told me that they didn’t make bras big enough for me. Eventually, I was able to find one boutique bra store that did sell bras in my size. But they set me back 90 bucks a pop. Meanwhile, I had to buy extra-large shirts so that they would stretch over my breasts—but the rest of my body swam in the extra fabric. I hated wearing swimsuits. Really, there wasn’t anything I didn’t hate wearing. One look at me, and your eyes went straight to my breasts.
Amy Niederberger Weiss Amy Niederberger Weiss
Deciding to Downsize
For two years, I debated having breast-reduction surgery. Just in case, though, I made sure to mention to my ob-gyn during every visit that I experienced back pain because of the extra weight. She documented it each time, explaining that, if I ended up deciding to get the procedure, being able to show that back pain was an ongoing problem would be vital to getting it covered by insurance.
Then, in 2009, at 22 years old, I decided it was time. I knew that breasts could grow up until around that age, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t get a reduction and then end up needing another one in five years. But at the same time, I didn’t want to wait so long that my back problems became debilitating.
RELATED: 11 Weird Facts About Your Breasts
My ob-gyn referred me to a plastic surgeon who then took a barrage of topless photos of me to send to my insurance company, along with paperwork so that, in the end, a good 98 percent of the procedure would end up being covered by insurance. My plastic surgeon explained that since the surgery would be so dramatic, I would likely need to have liposuction under my armpits—and insurance wouldn’t cover that. I ended up getting the under-arm lipo anyway.
Amy Niederberger Weiss Before surgery: Amy Niederberger Weiss
Designing the Dream Girls
Since I—somehow ironically—worked at Victoria’s Secret for several years during high school and college, I knew that I wanted to come out of surgery with C-cupped breasts. Still, my plastic surgeon recommended that I do some recon by checking out porn sites. Seriously!
So my boyfriend, best friend, and I sat down one night and spent hours combing through porn sites. “Do you like her boobs?” “These ones are nice, but they are a little wide-set.” “I want your nipples to be bigger than hers.” The conversation was ridiculous and hilarious. We still laugh about it.
I printed off pictures of my ta-tas of choice and brought them with me to the hospital on the morning of my surgery. Sitting in the operating room waiting for things to get started, the anesthesiologist saw I was holding some paper and was like, “What’s this?” When he grabbed the paper and looked at it, his face was priceless. The page was filled with pictures of naked breasts.
Surgery, Recovery, and Sponge Baths
I was out during the entire surgery, so I can’t really say much about the procedure itself. But when I woke up, I was shocked at the time. The surgery was supposed to have taken four to five hours, but it ended up taking seven because of all of the tissue that had to be removed.
In the recovery room, I was swollen and wrapped up in gauze. Under my breasts, two drainage tubes ran beneath my skin like built-in underwires. At the ends were little plastic bags that would collect blood and puss for the next week.
I don’t usually get sick from anesthesia, but since I was under for so long, I spent the rest of the day throwing up and having the nurses give me anti-nausea meds. There was an option to have the surgery done as an outpatient procedure, but I don’t know how anyone could possibly leave the hospital a couple of hours after getting out of surgery. I stayed there for one night.
I’ve also had people tell me you can go back to a work within a week of having breast-reduction surgery. They lie.
After breast-reduction surgery, you need someone around to help you with routine tasks for at least the first week. You literally cannot lift your arms more than about six inches from your sides because those muscles are so weak. So if someone left a plate on the counter, I couldn’t reach it. Friends, family, and my boyfriend had to wash me. It took two people to get me through the shower, as I sat on a plastic shower bench. I couldn’t get the incisions or drainage tubes wet, and I couldn’t raise my arms. At night, I slept propped up and wedged between pillows so I wouldn’t roll over on my tender breasts.
After about a week, the doctor pulled out the drainage tubes, and then, a week later, he helped me get into a sports bra. I got one that had a front-zip closure, which was really helpful since I couldn’t raise my arms. I wore sports bras for the next couple of weeks until my doctor said I could start wearing underwire-free bras.
The stiches were all internal and dissolvable, so luckily I didn’t have to worry about getting them taken out at any point. Although a few did end up poking out through my skin, so I had to visit the doctor to get those removed.
RELATED: Learning Curves: All About Breast Health
My doctor also gave me jelly strips that I placed over the incisions to help prevent scarring. I wore them every day for about a year. It probably took a good year and a half to two years for the scars to fade to the point they’re at now. The only scars you can still see are under my armpits from the liposuction, and they are really minimal. You can really only see them when I’m in a swimsuit.
Amy Niederberger Weiss Amy Niederberger Weiss
My Life as a C Cup
Apart from deciding to marry the man that helped me pick out my new boobs, having the breast-reduction surgery was the best decision I ever made.
For one, my back pain is completely gone. Sleeping, walking around, and just living is so much more comfortable. I don’t hurt every day. And now, I can work out without enduring horrific pain. I’ve gotten really into yoga, and I can’t imagine doing half of the poses with my former I cup breasts.
But most importantly, I feel more like “me.” My breasts are part of me, rather than being what I lead with. People aren’t constantly gawking at my chest. People now see me before they see my boobs, and I feel so much more confident as a result. Plus, it’s awesome being able to wear clothes that actually fit and buy pretty, lacy, pink bras for once.
Amy Niederberger Weiss Amy Niederberger Weiss
I am a little nervous about whether or not I will be able to breastfeed whenever I do decide to have children. During breast-reduction surgery, so much tissue is removed that some of the mammary glands can actually be taken out, reducing the amount of milk you can produce. Plus, the surgery can reduce nipple sensation, making getting the milk out more difficult. Luckily, the sensitivity of one of my nipples hasn’t changed since the surgery, which bodes well for my chances at breastfeeding (as well as my enjoyment of other pursuits). But in the other, the sensation is a bit wonky. If you touch my nipple, I feel it in another part of my breast. Apparently, some wires got crossed during the surgery.
RELATED: The Crazy Stuff That Happens to Your Boobs When You Have a Baby
I’m definitely glad I got the surgery, though. If you’re considering a breast-reduction procedure, talk to your doctor about your concerns. Talk to others who have had the procedure about their experiences. You’d really be surprised how common it is. And more and more women are going under the knife for a reason: because it can change your life.
Breast Reduction in Young Women Improves Quality of Life Decades Later
New Study in Plastic And Reconstructive Surgery Compares Long-Term Patient Outcomes, Including Sexual Well-Being and Satisfaction With Breasts
Women who underwent breast reduction surgery before age 25 continue to report lasting benefits 10 to 30 years following the procedure, according to a study in the November issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
“Young reduction mammaplasty patients experience excellent breast-related quality of life decades after surgery,” report Kate B. Krucoff, MD, and coauthors. The study finds that some long-term outcomes after breast reduction surgery – including sexual well-being and satisfaction with breasts – are even higher than in women who have never had breast surgery.
According to the 2018 American Society of Plastic Surgeons annual statistics report, there were 43,591 breast reduction procedures last year—a number that’s held steady since the Society began tracking the operation in 2011.
The study included women who were younger than 25 when they underwent breast reduction surgery between 1980 and 2003. The quality of life (QoL) outcomes were evaluated using a validated questionnaire, the BREAST Q©. Thirty-seven women completed the questionnaire. All women in the study were followed up for at least 10 years; median follow-up was 21 years, with a maximum of 32 years.
“Overall, participants demonstrated high satisfaction and well-being,” Kate B. Krucoff, MD, and coauthors write. The study focused on four BREAST Q outcomes, all scored on a 0 (worst) to 100 (best) scale. For two outcomes, scores were significantly higher for women who underwent breast reduction at a young age, compared to a normative group of women who never had breast surgery. Average score for satisfaction with breasts was 67 for women who underwent breast reduction, compared to 57 in the normative group. Women who underwent breast reduction also gave higher ratings for sexual well-being: 72 versus 55.
Women who underwent breast reduction also had good scores for psychosocial well-being (76 out of 100) and physical well-being (81 out of 100). These scores were similar to the normative group.
Breast reduction has demonstrated benefits in reducing symptoms (such as back and neck pain) and improving psychological well-being (such as poor body image and low self-esteem) in women with overlarge breasts. “Although young patients experience many of the same symptoms as adults, controversy exists around performing reduction mammaplasty in a young patient population,” Dr. Krucoff and colleagues write. The new report is one of the longest follow-up studies of young reduction mammaplasty patients, and the first to use the validated BREAST Q questionnaire.
The results show enduring benefits in a group of women who underwent breast reduction before age 25. Benefits persisted even though the women likely underwent hormonal changes affecting the breast, including pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. “Thus, avoiding or delaying reduction mammaplasty in young patients may prevent them from achieving lasting improvements in satisfaction and well-being,” the researchers add. The study also has implications for insurance coverage and other obstacles to undergoing breast reduction surgery, especially in younger women. Dr. Krucoff and coauthors conclude, “Surgeons and third-party payers should be aware of these data and advocate for young patients to gain access to care.”
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® is published by Wolters Kluwer.
to read “Breast-Related Quality of Life in Young Reduction Mammaplasty Patients: A Long-Term Follow-Up Using the BREAST-Q”
I’m sitting here, at the Problogger Conference on the Gold Coast, Queensland, by the pool, sipping a cocktail (I know, you think that this is my everyday “bloggerati” life, sadly not so) and thinking about just how much having had my breast reduction 2 1/2 years ago has changed my life.
Why think about it now? Well it’s the fact I’m sitting by the pool, out in public. That was something I rarely did pre-breast reduction as I was too conscious of constantly falling out my my swimmers (if I could find swimwear to fit) and so I avoided pool-type situations in public and would only go away to places that didn’t require swimwear (Paris, London, New York, Prague …. all fine places, no swimmers required).
I get emails from women asking me about my experience, as they consider having the same operation, and so I wanted to share just what a positive impact it has had on my life.
My health has improved
I’m now the fittest I’ve ever been since I was a kid! I know, hard to believe that nearing 50 I’m probably fitter and healthier than I was in my 20s and 30s. Those big old boobs made doing strenuous exercise uncomfortable (and also often very self-conscious). Two serious sports bras was not enough to hold them down, and to make anything high impact appealing in the slightest.
Now I regularly run (and if you’d told me 10 years ago that I’d be running regularly, I’d have laughed til I snorted). This has improved my cardio fitness as well as my cholesterol levels. Both super important for my ongoing health.
Plus back pain has improved and headaches are far fewer as there is not such a strain on shoulders (bra straps) and my posture has improved (though there is still a way to go there!
My self-esteem has improved
You’re thinking “Seriously Imogen? You had poor self-confidence?” and the answer is yes.
For most of my adult life I feel that I’ve been kind of “defined” by my large breasts. It was my ‘defnining feature” what people noticed (and often commented on. They attracted lots of attention (and not always positive).
Having a breast reduction has meant that I no longer feel self-conscious thus actually going to places where I may sit by a pool in swimwear, and just in daily life, not feeling that I’m being judged in any way around my figure.
My wardrobe choices have improved
I can shop, and fit into clothes. For the 30 years prior to the “anti-boob-job” it was rare that I could actually find something to wear, that fitted me properly. My choices were so limited.
I love the freedom of actually being able to go shopping in a way I’ve never experienced for me. Sure everything doesn’t fit, and I don’t expect it to, that would be crazy (and I’ve written about that very topic here already) but at least I have so much more choice now in both shapes and styles available to me that I can on and I’m not busting out of.
I don’t regret for one second having my breast reduction. It wasn’t nearly as painful as I’d expected and the recovery wasn’t so bad either. Finding a good surgeon is an important part of the decision to take such radical surgery, but I’d do it again in a flash.
My overall wellbeing has improved
Feeling fitter, being more active, not feeling like something holds me back means that I am more able to take advantage of situations. To try physical things I might have avoided in the past. I am happier within myself.
I’d spent so many years defined by being a woman with very large breasts, and it took years of thinking and pondering before I did take the plunge to have the reduction as it meant a change to my identity (and it’s not a small operation so requires careful consideration). I know, for me, it was absolutely the right decision to make.
Read up on my breast reduction journey:
Why having big breasts is not fun
Breast Reduction update – 1 week post operative
Breast Reduction Surgery recovery guide
Breast Reduction – 4 weeks post operative
Breast Reduction – 6 weeks post operative
Breast Reduction – 3 months post operative
Breast Reduction – 1 year on
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Once I decided to finally take the leap to have breast reduction surgery, I scoured the internet to find any information about the procedure. I didn’t want the medical jargon; I needed to hear the stories of real women and what they went through during the process. What I found was no one has the exact same experience. All information was valuable, but different for each woman. I decided I would write about my personal breast reduction journey, as it is very different from the stories I read and the videos I watched. It is my hope this can help someone out there contemplating this surgery. This is my breast reduction experience and tips from start to finish. I have also created a list of my top 5 items needed for after breast reduction surgery. You can read that article here.
The Set Up
Although I have wanted a breast reduction since my late teens, I have never seriously put thought into actually having the surgery. I have always been terrified of the thought of major surgery and balked at the price tag. It wasn’t until December 2018 that I got serious about the idea. It was finally time to go speak to a surgeon. Since I live in Hawaii, I chose the #1 surgeon on Oahu. It was there I was quoted over $16,000 for a mastopexy (breast lift) and a small breast reduction.
I immediately decided to look elsewhere. My search started and ended in Dallas, Texas. This is a place I still have connection to through family and friends. With one search, I came across Lemmon Avenue Plastic Surgery and Laser Center. The name Mark Dueber sounded vaguely familiar and with one facebook search, I found we had mutual friends. I was able to confirm I knew several people personally that had work done through him. Having personal references gave me the confidence to get more serious about this place. The glaring problem I had was the fact Dallas was over 3,000 miles away. How would I get the consult I needed? Fret not! Dr. Dueber to the rescue!
To my very pleasant surprise, this office had an online consultation. Although it felt odd to take photos of my breasts and upload them online, it was the easiest, and most sensible solution for myself. With the photos and a few questions asked, I was on my way. Within a couple of days, the office contacted me via telephone for a telephone consult. There, they explained how a mastopexy worked. I was informed I was a good candidate for a mastopexy and possibly a small reduction. This was not my original intent, but the nurse did a great job of explaining the difference in going for a lift or a reduction. I am glad she did, because what she explained was exactly what I was wanting.
The nurse explained they could not guarantee a size, but rather guarantee to put my nipples back to where they were anatomically correct, if that included tissue removal, then so be it. This was actually reassuring because I knew the office wasn’t just telling me what I wanted to hear, but what needed to happen. This helped manage my expectations. It was also at this time I was quoted $7,800 for the procedure. That was more than $8,000 less than my last consult! Sign me up! If you can find an office with an online consult, do it! It makes the breast reduction experience start off so easily.
Leading Up to Breast Reduction Surgery
December 27, 2018 was the day I confirmed with Lemmon Avenue Plastic Surgery and a date was on the calendar. On January 4th, 2019, I received my surgery packet with the information I needed to have a smooth, successful surgery. The packet was mostly pre-surgery tips, prescriptions to fill before surgery, and a medical questionnaire. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be completely honest on this form. Anesthesia is SERIOUS business and many things can affect your reaction to the medication. Not being honest can be deadly.
After the health questionnaire was complete I sent it off and waited until two weeks out from surgery for the next step. Two weeks from surgery, I was asked to complete a blood count and metabolic panel at a local diagnostic lab. This step was as easy as making an appointment and having a few vials of blood drawn. That process took about 20 minutes and they sent the results to my doctor. After that, I just had to wait until my flight to Texas.
Researching to Prepare for Surgery
I felt the best way to prepare for my upcoming breast reduction experience was to research everyone else’s journey so I knew what to expect. What I learned here was that everyone has their own unique experience when having any breast altering surgery. I have heard everything from I regret it all, to it was the best decision I ever made; it was the worst pain I have ever felt, to it was no big deal. So, I decided I would just prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I searched far and wide to find zip front, no underwire bras, which have come very handy. A handful of zip front and button down shirts were purchased for the days following surgery, and I found the perfect angle, wedge pillow to help with the back sleeping. I was more than prepared.
Day Before Surgery
I flew into Dallas on a Sunday. I wanted a few days of hotel relaxation so I could start my breast reduction journey on a full tank. On Tuesday, February 12, I had my first face to face consultation with Dr. Dueber. It was here that he confirmed what I was told over the phone: I was a perfect candidate for a mastopexy (breast lift) and a small reduction. He thought I would have a final cup size between 1.5-2 cups smaller than my current DDD. I was also assured he could even out my size, as my left breast was noticeably larger than my right. He took several before photos, and answered any questions I still had. Oddly enough, I didn’t have too many questions because I had scoured the internet and felt satiated in my knowledge.
The whole process took about 30 minutes. I was in and out, and sent home to enjoy my night before surgery. The Anesthesiologist also gave me a call that evening to introduce himself over the phone and explain his part in the surgery and answer any questions I had. Again, I didn’t have any, and just waited for the procedure to happen.
My sister came to stay the night with me so she could take me to and from my surgery, as you are unable to drive for 24 hours due to anesthesia effects. My particular doctor also does not allow patients to leave in an Uber for safety reasons. (Thank goodness!!) We had a good, filling meal, sans alcohol. It’s important to refrain from alcohol due to the effects of blood thinning. That can be a mess in surgery with anesthesia use. Also, you cannot have any food or water after midnight before surgery, so you want to be full and hydrated when you fall asleep. I had a plethora of feelings running through my head, but that requires a blog article all it’s own (). Somewhere in the night, I was able to grab a few hours of sleep.
Day of Breast Reduction Surgery
My surgery was set to begin at 9:30 am on Wednesday, February 13. I was asked to come to the office at 9am to meet the Anesthesiologist and get prepped for the surgery. At 7am, I woke up to take a shower and wash my hair because I was not exactly sure when I would be able to shower again. I also made sure to wear cotton underwear, as other materials can apparently conduct electricity and can be a safety issue. I also had a zip front sweater to easily change back into after surgery. Again, I could not have any water or food before surgery.
When I got to the office, they allowed my sister to come in with me to meet one more time with my doctor. It was helpful to have her there to have a second set of ears for anything mentioned. The Anesthesiologist also used this time to find my vein and insert the port for the anesthesia. The nurse gave me two tabs of tylenol to have have running through my system. This also came with the tiniest sip of water, which I was very grateful for, as I hadn’t had water in quite some time.
I was led into a room that had a surprising amount of people for the procedure. I knew my doctor, the anesthesiologist, and two nurses, but there were two others helping out. It really did take a whole team. I was instructed to lay on the table. After about 2 minutes, the Anesthesiologist told me I would feel a sting from the anesthesia, and he was correct. It was a very odd, stinging sensation. Luckily, it didn’t last long, as I was out within about a minute or two. Next thing I knew, I was waking up and surgery was complete.
This part is a bit of a blur, but as soon as I was awakened, I was helped into my clothes. I did not wear a bra out of the office, only an ace bandage put on by the nurses. My sister was already in the room. I was in a bit of pain, but not unbearable. The worst part was my throat hurting from the tube they used to help me breath during the procedure. After I got dressed, there wasn’t any down time. They allowed me to leave pretty quickly, and gave me a time for my follow-up appointment for the next day. The nurse reminded my sister to let me sleep a few hours, but then wake me up to eat and have water. She also instructed me to get up and move around, and to lift my arms over my head to get my blood flowing.
The Hours Following Surgery
One thing many people don’t consider after surgery is the amount of time it takes to get to where you will be for the night, and the route taken to get there. Luckily, my hotel was only about 10 minutes from the surgery center. I highly suggest getting close if you can. It is totally worth splurging on a hotel room if you live far away. Also, your driver will need to be patient and willing to take it slow. A route without speed bumps and potholes is ideal.
The first hour after surgery was the worst. The best way I can describe it was feeling like a hot knife had sliced me. My doctor used a blade and electrocautery, so it made sense to feel that way. Although I hurt, it was, by no means, unbearable. I was able to get into my room and fall asleep pretty quickly. After I napped a couple of hours, I was up and feeling surprisingly well. I had very little pain. I could lift my arms with no trouble. My breasts just felt very swollen and tight at the bottom where the side were pulled in and stitched together.
I was feeling good enough that we actually went out to dinner. I came back to the hotel and took an ibuprofen and a benadryl to help me get back on a normal sleep schedule, as suggested by the nurse. During the night, I still had very little pain. The worst part was the sore throat and the after taste of the anesthesia. It took through the night for that to clear up and feel normal.
The Day Following Surgery
The day after surgery, I woke up pretty early. There was very little discomfort, and I was feeling good. I slept well with my new wedge pillow, so I had tons of energy. I put on another zip front sweater, and was still only wearing my ace bandage. At no time did I wear a surgical bra. We went for breakfast and then the follow up appointment.
At my follow up, the doctor removed my ace bandage. He looked at how the breasts looked with the surgical tape still on. The doctor and nurse were both satisfied with the results. He let me know that they ended up not just doing the lift, but also removed about 300 grams of tissue from each breast. He said they would turn out very nicely. They asked if I had more questions. I just wanted to know when I could shower, which I was told I could do immediately when I got home. It was important to make sure the surgical tape was completely dry, using the cool setting on the blow dryer if needed. I was also given the following information:
- Go about my normal activity, it will help me heal faster.
- Keep the surgical tape on for two weeks, but I can remove the pieces as they started to curl, just use sharp scissors.
- No working out for 3 weeks.
- I can have sexual activity whenever I felt comfortable
- Sleeping on my side could happen as soon as it felt comfortable.
- There was no need to wear a surgical bra; however, I needed to wear a wireless sports bra for the first 3 months. I could opt to not wear any bra if I liked.
- Continue with 800mg Ibuprofen, but stay away from narcotics for pain, as they slow healing.
- I could use Scar MD to reduce sight of scars after the tape comes off, usually 2 weeks.
But What About the Drains?
I was incredibly fortunate with my breast reduction experience. I did not have to have any drains. From the start, my doctor let me know the procedure he used did not end with any types of drains. In fact, I had very little “oozing” or blood that the surgical tape did not stop. It was only the second night I had a little post surgical liquid get on my shirt as a slept. Other than that, my incision sites stayed pretty dry.
The Week Following Surgery
I was fully prepared to be down and out for a few days, but it did not happen that way. Going about my usual routine happened immediately. I did actively try to keep a healthy diet and drink plenty water to help with my healing. I also made sure I was up and moving my body and arms often, as advised by my doctor. About 3 days after surgery, my bruising came in pretty heavy. It looked pretty gnarly with the bruises and bloodied surgical tape, but still did not hurt. The itching was pretty intense during this time. My nipples turned out hypersensitive, so it was not the best feeling. I made sure to use soap to keep my skin clean and use the blow dryer on cool to dry my surgical tape.
Four days after surgery, I flew back from Dallas to Oahu, Hawaii. I was a bit concerned about the pressure and inconvenience of travel. However, it was not an issue at all. It was just the normal uncomfortable nature of flying for 9+ hours. Six days after surgery, I was back at work, teaching middle school. I have not had any complications, nor has my life been inconvenienced by the surgery. At 11 days out, my bruising has also almost cleared up. Much of my tape has come off. The stitching looks like it is healing up nicely, as well. I am pleasantly shocked at how easy this whole procedure turned out for me.
Breast reduction results 2 months after surgery
Summarizing of my tips for breast reduction surgery
- Every person has a different experience. Listen to your body.
- Every doctor has their own suggestions. Follow your doctor’s guidelines.
- Have a stockpile of zip front bras and zip front shirts for the days following surgery.
- Have Dial Soap on hand for when you can shower. You do not want to use heavy scented soaps on your surgical site.
- Have a person on hand to drive you home from surgery. Be sure to map out the least bumpy route possible.
- Be ready to not drink alcohol for a week, maybe more, due to taking antibiotics after surgery.
- Stay hydrated. I suggest a diffuser water bottle to help spruce up your water.
- If you are wanting the surgery, get it! Don’t wait! I have zero regrets.
If you have any specific questions I did not cover, feel free to reach out via social media DM or the contact form on this webpage. I would love to help out in any way I can!
Having a breast reduction can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be if you know what to expect. This is my breast reduction journey and tips for surgery.
Lynn Dury’s breast reduction story – Breast Reduction – Breast Surgery
Breast augmentation patient case study
- Cosmetic surgeon: Mr Duncan Atherton BSc MBBS MRCS(Eng) MD FRCS(Plast)
- Procedure: breast reduction
- Operation duration: Overnight stay
- Post op consultation: at one week and three months
Lynn’s cosmetic surgery journey
Lynn had always had large breasts but after turning 60 they became even bigger and more uncomfortable. As a result, she endured years of neck, shoulder and back-ache, as well as issues with her knees.
“I had ridges on my shoulders where my bra straps sat and I had to have physio for my neck as well as taking regular pain-killers. As a result of their size, I was getting sweaty, developing sores and I felt awful. I had comments from people about their size, which I found so embarrassing and I felt so self-conscious all the time.”
Last January, Lynn was watching the well-known television programme, Embarrassing Bodies and saw a breast reduction segment involving Patrick Mallucci, one of MyBreast’s founding surgeons. She was so impressed with the results shown, she decided to get in touch with MyBreast.
The first consultation
As a nurse, Lynn is used to seeing consultations taking place, but she was still nervous in the build-up to her own. However, all her fears evaporated when she met Mr Atherton for the first time. The primary consultation lasted an hour.
“At the start I initially felt a little embarrassed, because the consultation felt as though I was baring my soul to someone. However, Mr Atherton was brilliant and made me feel very comfortable. He made notes while he was talking, so it didn’t seem like he was examining me too much. He got to know me and how I felt before he even got out the tape measure or talked about the procedure.”
She had researched breast reductions, so was prepared before her consultation. However, Mr Atherton was able to go through all the associated risks and details of what the procedure would entail.
“I just wanted him to be honest and tell me if, at 67, I was too old for the procedure. He assured me as long as I was in good health, he was happy to go ahead. Mr Atherton wanted to have a second consultation because I’m a mature patient. He wanted to check the procedure was exactly what I wanted, I was in the right frame of mind and I was sure he was the right practitioner for me.”
At her second consultation, Lynn was asked what size she wanted her breasts reduced to and if she had any remaining concerns. She knew she wanted to go ahead and was certain Mr Atherton was the surgeon for her.
“There’s no hard sell and no attitude you need to be ‘fixed’ at MyBreast. It’s all about what’s best for you, with no compromise on care. I felt important.”
On account of her age, Lynn had an ECG and routine blood testing before her procedure to check she was in good health for surgery.
The procedure took four and a half hours. Mr Atherton came to see Lynn on the morning of the procedure and asked if she had any worries:
“I told him; ‘I’m not worried about you’. I trusted his professionalism and expertise completely. I said to him afterwards he reminded me of a tailor, with a tape measure around his neck with him drawing on me, planning the surgery. He joked that is exactly what he is and that his job was to tailor my body.
“I came out of surgery with two little drains, a little bit of soreness and nausea, but no pain. I wore the bra recommended by MyBreast for post-surgery. When I looked down for the first time, I couldn’t see anything, but that was a lovely feeling!”
Because of Lynn’s age, Mr Atherton sent over the tissue removed during the surgery for histology, to see if there were any underlying health issues. The histology came back negative and all was clear.
Lynn stayed at the hospital overnight and was released the next day. Due to the amount of tissue removed, 1.2kg from each breast, Mr Atherton wanted to make absolutely sure there were no complications. The morning after surgery, the drains were taken out and Lynn was discharged.
Recovery and final stages
Lynn had little pain and no difficulties in her recovery but did have limited mobility for a couple of weeks.
“My husband had to help me a lot, which drove me mad because I am fiercely independent. One day he even tried to dry my hair; I looked like something the cat dragged in! I wasn’t allowed to lift things but I got on with my normal routine as best I could.”
Her stitches were taken out on the following Wednesday and she was amazed by how much the wound had healed. Tape strips were placed over the wound, which Lynn removed a week later.
“You can hardly see the scars now and I feel privileged to have had Mr Atherton as my surgeon. I used to wear a 34GG, but in reality, I knew I was actually much bigger. At the moment I’m wearing a 34DD. I feel so much happier and I’m much more active.”
Lynn was so impressed by the quality of care shown by MyBreast, she recommended her sister have the same procedure.
“When she saw the results of my surgery, she wished she could have the same as she suffered from similar problems from her breasts. The surgery was a complete success and she is just as happy as I am with her results.”
Lynn had one post-op consultation but has seen Mr Atherton three times with her sister, so he has monitored the recovery process closely, documenting Lynn’s journey with photos.
“When I saw the before and after pictures, I couldn’t believe that’s what I used to look like. I never used to look in the mirror, because I didn’t want to see myself. There aren’t enough stars to rate MyBreast. From start to finish everybody there has just been brilliant. It’s changed my life completely.”
At 16 years old, I was already a J cup. I had to wear a souped-up bra made from a Lycra-like material, with two pieces of underwire and super-thick straps—but not even my fortified breastplate was enough to prevent the aches and pains that inevitably followed a 15-minute run. If I bent down for more than a few seconds, the weight of my chest became so intense I’d have to lie on the floor to help realign my back.
I was self-conscious and I was extremely uncomfortable within my own body, so instead of wearing what I wanted, I wore what I could. My wardrobe was a steady rotation of oversized, potato-sack t-shirts. The loose shapes allowed me to breathe, but I felt stifled.
My wardrobe was a steady rotation of oversized, potato-sack t-shirts. The loose shapes allowed me to breathe, but I felt stifled.
My boobs, of course, didn’t appear overnight. First came puberty, then came years of unexplained weight gain, and then, finally, a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). A hormonal disorder that involves heightened levels of androgens (or male hormones, such as testosterone) and insulin, PCOS can throw your metabolism way out of whack. I hoped that once I began treatment for my PCOS (which for me included a number of medications), my metabolism would correct course, the weight would come off, and I’d be able to exercise again without fear my body would break in two.
Over the next year and a half, I did lose weight—about 100 pounds in total—just not in my boobs. Instead, my new proportions succeeded in making them appear larger. If I hadn’t been in so much pain, I would have been impressed by my bosom’s apparent ability to defy the laws of nature.
So, a few days after I turned 18, I went in for a consultation with a surgeon to discuss the possibility of a breast reduction, and a few months after that, I was on the operating table. The goal of my surgery was to reduce my breasts to a size that would no longer negatively impact my life. And when I woke up and saw my new DDD chest, I immediately felt that the emotional weight those four cup sizes carried had been lifted.
When I woke up and saw my new DDD chest, I immediately felt that the emotional weight those four cup sizes carried had been lifted.
That’s not to say that recovery was easy. Actually, it was a panic-inducing horror show. For the five days following my surgery, a glorified Tupperware container clipped to the inside of my shirt collected blood and other bodily fluids that drained from my tits. (I never managed to empty it without feeling faint.) Scars from the three incisions made to each boob criss-crossed my areolas. And the gore reached its climax when my left nipple, which I’d taken to calling Frankenipple because of its stitched and scabby appearance, fell off. Or, for one heart-stopping, nausea-inducing moment, I thought it had fallen off; Frankenipple, it turned out, wasn’t a nipple masquerading as a scab, it was just a scab. My real nipple was safe and sound underneath.
It would be 10 days before I was able to shower, and months before I felt comfortable sleeping on my stomach again. But the minute I was healed enough to wear a bra, I discovered I had a new lease on life—and fashion. I bought dresses, vintage clothes, button-down-shirts. I went bra shopping for the first time since my early teenage years at an actual department store, rather than a specialty shop. Instead of using my clothes to hide a body I found awkward and agonizing, I found that each outfit was an opportunity to reveal another piece of who I was. I felt more like myself than I ever had before—despite the fact that, technically, there was less of me.
If your underwear drawer is lacking, consider upgrading it with a pair of breezy cotton underwear or a bra that’ll work with any outfit.