Breast reduction procedural steps

What happens during breast reduction surgery?

Breast reduction surgery is usually performed through incisions on your breasts with surgical removal of the excess fat, glandular tissue and skin.

In some cases, excess fat may be removed through liposuction in conjunction with the excision techniques described below. If breast size is largely due to fatty tissue and excess skin is not a factor, liposuction alone may be used in the procedure for breast reduction.

The technique used to reduce the size of your breasts will be determined by your individual condition, breast composition, amount of reduction desired, your personal preferences and the surgeon’s advice.

Step 1 - Anesthesia

Medications are administered for your comfort during breast reduction surgery. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.

Step 2 - The incision

Incision options include:

  • A circular pattern around the areola

Breast Reduction - Circular Pattern, Before Breast Reduction - Circular Pattern, After

The incision lines that remain are visible and permanent scars, although usually well concealed beneath a swimsuit or bra.

  • A keyhole or racquet-shaped pattern with an incision around the areola and vertically down to the breast crease

Breast Reduction - Vertical Incision, Before Breast Reduction - Vertical Incision, After

  • An inverted T or anchor-shaped incision pattern

Breast Reduction - Anchor Shaped Incision, Before Breast Reduction - Anchor Shaped Incision, After

Step 3 - Removing tissue and repositioning

After the incision is made, the nipple (which remains tethered to its original blood and nerve supply) is then repositioned. The areola is reduced by excising skin at the perimeter, if necessary.

Underlying breast tissue is reduced, lifted and shaped. Occasionally, for extremely large pendulous breasts, the nipple and areola may need to be removed and transplanted to a higher position on the breast (free nipple graft).

Step 4 - Closing the incisions

The incisions are brought together to reshape the now smaller breast. Sutures are layered deep within the breast tissue to create and support the newly shaped breasts; sutures, skin adhesives and/or surgical tape close the skin. Incision lines are permanent, but in most cases will fade and significantly improve over time.

Step 5 - See the results

The results of your breast reduction surgery are immediately visible. Over time, post-surgical swelling will resolve and incision lines will fade. Satisfaction with your new image should continue to grow as you recover.