Find relief through breast reduction surgery

If your breasts are larger than you’d like, it’s not unusual to experience related physical and psychological distress. This can occur in both women and men, in a range of ages. Breast reduction is a common and effective way to reduce excess breast tissue and fat. This surgical procedure makes breasts smaller and more proportionate to your body frame. Breast reduction surgeons at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus help relieve problems commonly associated with large, heavy or sagging breasts. Symptoms can include back, neck and shoulder pain and other complications. Breast reduction also eases related problems such as strain on bra straps that can even leave painful indentations in your shoulders.

Overview of breast reduction surgery

Breast reduction is also known as reduction mammoplasty. Male breast reduction is called gynecomastia.  

During this procedure, the breast reduction surgeon removes excess skin and fat through an incision on each breast. The surgeon makes the incision around the areola (dark-pigmented area surrounding the nipple) and down the underside of the breast.

If you’re thinking about breast reduction, our board certified plastic surgeons at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center will discuss the potential risks and benefits. You can schedule a consultation with an Ohio State breast surgery specialist to determine whether this procedure is right for you. Surgeons usually perform this procedure on adult men and women. The procedure can also be done on certain adolescents — usually after breasts are fully developed, so that a follow-up reduction won’t be necessary.

Your surgeon will consider your condition, goals and expectations. Depending on your condition and treatment plan, the doctor may recommend related procedures such as a breast lift to smooth, lift and reshape the breasts, or liposuction to remove excess fatty tissue.

Why breast reduction surgery is done

Doctors may recommend breast reduction surgery for physical, psychological or medical reasons. In addition to reducing breast size and weight, breast reduction surgery can create a firmer breast with a more proportional shape and appearance.

Breast surgery can boost your self-image and help clothing fit better. In some instances, improved breast weight, size and proportions make it easier to exercise and enjoy sports or other physical activity. Ohio State breast surgeons treat wide-ranging concerns related to large breasts, including:

  • Back, neck and shoulder pain
  • Clothing and wardrobe limitations
  • Extremely large breasts (macromastia)
  • Improved posture when seated or standing
  • Nerve pain
  • Poorly fitting bras and undergarments
  • Rashes and other skin conditions
  • Social stigma
  • Ulcers under breasts due to restricted blood flow

Male breast reduction — gynecomastia treatment

If you’re a man who has excess breast tissue and skin, this may be the result of a common condition called gynecomastia. Possible causes include hormonal disorders and complications from steroid use or certain medications. Gynecomastia often begins in adolescence. Aside from physical discomfort, it can raise psychological issues and even lead to severe depression. Your Ohio State plastic surgeon can talk with you about possible causes and appropriate treatment options.

What to expect if you have a breast reduction procedure

During an office appointment, your Ohio State breast reduction surgeon will evaluate your medical condition and review your health history, lifestyle factors and other details. You’ll receive individualized instructions about what to expect before and after breast reduction. Your plastic surgeon is with you at every turn — before, during and after breast reduction surgery.

Preparing for reduction mammaplasty

An experienced plastic surgeon at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center will be happy to meet with you and discuss all aspects of breast reduction. You’ll get answers to all your questions, and together you’ll determine the best plan for your specific needs.

If you don’t need to have excess skin removed, you may only need liposuction to reduce the size of your breasts. Your plastic surgeon will discuss any special circumstances, including possible concerns about breastfeeding.

During your breast reduction treatment

The surgery will take place in an outpatient surgery center.

During breast reduction surgery, your plastic surgeon will remove excess skin and fat through an incision on each breast around the areola, which is the dark pigmented area surrounding the nipple. The incision continues down to the underside of the breasts. The surgeon will reposition the nipples and reshape the breasts. Your Ohio State surgeon has advanced skills and training in procedures that minimize visible scarring.

When surgery is complete, the doctor will close the incisions and add protective wound coverings. The procedure usually takes about two to four hours under a general anesthetic.

Breast reduction recovery

Recovery times and processes vary. During your pre-surgery appointments, the surgeon will discuss how long it takes to recover from breast reduction surgery.

After breast reduction treatment, you can expect some temporary bruising and swelling in your breasts. Your doctor will use drainage tubes to remove any excess fluid buildup during the first few days after surgery. You may take medication to alleviate some discomfort.

You’ll need to wear a surgical compression bra for about a month. This helps protect your wounds and encourage healing. After breast reduction, most people resume normal daily activities after about two weeks. However, you should avoid strenuous activities and heavy lifting for at least four weeks after your breast reduction procedure.

Results of breast reduction

Once any initial swelling subsides, results of breast surgery are immediately visible. You’ll see more balanced, firmer and evenly proportioned breast shape and size. Your breasts should be well suited to your unique body size, type and shape.

You can expect lasting results from a breast reduction procedure. Most people experience improved self-esteem. Many say that they feel free to make new clothing choices without worrying about trying to conceal overly large breasts.

Your breast shape and size can change over time with normal aging processes. Significant weight changes and hormonal fluctuations can also affect breast size. With healthy diet and lifestyle choices, you’ll enjoy your new look for years to come.

Risks of breast reduction procedures

There are risks associated with any surgery, including breast procedures. Risks of reduction mammoplasty include infection, bleeding and poor reaction to anesthesia.

Reasons to avoid breast reduction surgery may include:

  • Lifestyle habits that include smoking and alcohol or drug abuse
  • Obesity
  • Pattern of excessive weight loss and gain
  • Possibility of future pregnancy and desire to breastfeed
  • Plans for significant exercise or dietary changes

Pregnancy and breastfeeding can affect breast shape and size. You can discuss related concerns with your plastic surgeon. If pregnancy is a possibility in the near or remote future, your doctor may suggest delaying the surgery. But your doctor can discuss different surgical techniques and breastfeeding approaches or alternatives if you decide to have breast reduction surgery.

Other considerations or potential complications of breast reduction surgery include:

  • Bruised skin (usually temporary)
  • Injury or loss of feeling in nipples and surrounding skin (areolae)
  • Results not as expected, requiring revision surgery
  • Scarring on breasts
  • Tissue damage and nerve pain
  • Uneven or poorly balanced breasts

Why choose Ohio State for breast reduction surgery?

If you’re considering breast reduction, it’s important to find an experienced team of plastic surgeons. At the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, you’re cared for by board certified plastic surgeons who have specialized experience in breast reduction surgery and a track record of proven results. Ohio State surgeons have extensive expertise in a wide range of innovative breast reduction techniques.

As a teaching and research hospital, Ohio State assures you of physicians who train the next generation of plastic surgeons and also conduct leading-edge research. Our surgeons bring about new advancements in cosmetic surgery and other areas of expertise.

At Ohio State, you also have access to:

  • Our entire team of doctors with expertise in plastic surgery and other fields of medicine
  • The most comprehensive and latest cosmetic surgery treatments and care
  • Safe procedures from board certified plastic surgeons trained in techniques that help promote healing and streamline recovery 


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