American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

Are you a good candidate for breast reduction?

are you a good candidate for breast reduction?

It may sound easy to answer this question, but it is not necessarily that simple when deciding to have surgery. One afternoon, I was having lunch with a friend and she told me about her breast reduction. She always knew she had large breasts, but it took her years to realize she could benefit from breast reduction surgery.

"It is the best decision that I have made! I woke up in the recovery room thrilled! I felt a huge relief having the weight of my breasts lifted off my chest."

If you ask a plastic surgeon who are the most satisfied patients, they will almost unanimously say that it's breast reduction patients. But is this procedure right for you? There are many conditions that could make you a breast reduction candidate:

  • Dissatisfaction with large and heavy breasts
  • Breast weight causes neck or back pain and discomfort
  • It is difficult to find a brassiere or clothes that fit
  • Chronic under-breast rashes and/or shoulder marks from bra straps

What are the other most common questions for patients that are considering breast reduction?

Is breast reduction surgery safe?

Although breast reduction is an extremely satisfying procedure, it is still surgery. It is important to look for a board-certified plastic surgeon and discuss your health, medications, allergies and expectations. The procedure usually takes 3-5 hours and, in many cases, it is considered a same-day procedure with no need for an overnight hospital stay.

You may not get the exact cup size that you imagined, you will have some scarring and you may have temporary or permanent changes to your nipple sensation. After the procedure, you may also have difficulty with breastfeeding. This means that breast reduction is a personalized procedure. You should think about the pros and cons and discuss with your surgeon.

Is it painful to have a breast reduction?

You should expect some pain, however, it will only last for a few days and slowly taper down as you recover from surgery and start to heal. In general, patients feel so relieved no longer experiencing pain from the weight of their breasts that it makes the discomfort of surgery minimal.

Will breast reduction lift my breasts?

Breast reduction has the advantage of being a 2-for-1 procedure. During the procedure, the surgeon will not only reduce your breasts but also move your nipple up, which will give you a breast lift in the end.

How long does it take to recover from breast reduction?

You should expect to feel sore and tired for a few days after the surgery. Depending on how much breast tissue was removed, how long the surgery took and size of scars, it may take a little longer to recover. You will have to wait to be fully healed before returning to some exercises and heavy lifting – usually 6-8 weeks.

However, depending on your level of activity, you can be ready in 1-2 weeks and gradually return to full strength as your scars heal and you recover from the procedure and anesthesia.

How much does it cost to have a breast reduction?

You may qualify for insurance coverage for your breast reduction if you have significant symptoms caused by your heavy breasts, such as:

  • A history of rashes that required medication
  • Numbness or tingling in your arms
  • Shortness of breath when lying down
  • Inability to perform your daily activities because of the weight of your breasts
  • Significant back pain that is not improved by measures, such as physical therapy, chiropractic therapy, weight loss and exercises.
  • It is not related to any other medical causes.

However, it also depends on your insurance plan. Make sure that you call your insurance for specifics.

If you don't have any symptoms of large breasts, but you are still unhappy with the size of your breasts, you can still undergo breast reduction as an aesthetic procedure.

Next steps on your breast reduction journey

If you think breast reduction surgery right for you and you're ready to meet with a board-certified plastic surgeon for a consultation, be sure to use the ASPS Plastic Surgery Connect referral service to find an ASPS member surgeon in your area.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.


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