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Breast reduction surgery: Procedure, recovery, risks, and exercises

Breast reduction surgery is a surgical procedure performed to reduce the size of breasts and to reshape the breasts. In this procedure, excess fat, tissue and skin are removed, and the dark ring surrounding the nipple can also be reduced. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon makes an incision to one or more locations on the breasts. After removing the excesses, the surgeon closes the incision by suturing. Sometimes the nipple may require being removed and repositioned. Liposuction can also be performed depending on the condition during the surgery. Natural methods can be tried before deciding on breast reduction surgery. Losing weight with a healthy diet and herbal cures can be natural options. The most effective exercises are push-up and swimming.

What is breast reduction?

Breast reduction surgery is one of the mammoplasty (breast aesthetics) surgical methods. The procedure aims to reduce the size of the breasts by removing excess fat, tissue and skin. It relieves the discomfort of large breasts and provides a breast size proportional to the body.

This procedure is called reduction mammoplasty in the literature, it can also be performed on males with gynecomastia (enlarged breast) problems. (1)

Why is the breast reduction surgery performed?

Breast reduction surgery is performed to change the size, weight, tightness, and shape of the breasts. It also resolves the following problems: 

  • Chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain requiring analgesics
  • Numbness in the arms and pain in certain arm movements due to the weight on the shoulder and neck
  • Chronic skin rash or irritation under the breasts; skin problems like diaper rash, mycosis etc.
  • Nerve pain (neuralgia) due to an injury or damage to the nerves
  • Limited physical activity, difficulty in doing sports
  • Skeletal structure disorders such as humpback and lateral posture (2)
  • Feeling of pressure and compression in the breast wall
  • Herniated disc
  • Consistent headache
  • Difficulty in using bra and finding suitable clothes
  • Psycho-social problems caused by large breasts

Who can get breast reduction surgery?

  • It can be performed on healthy women of all ages. However, a second surgery may be required for surgeries performed before the age of 18, when the breasts are underdeveloped.
  • It can be performed on males with gynecomastia.

Who can’t get breast reduction surgery?

This surgical intervention is generally not recommended to the following:

  • Smokers who cannot give up in any way
  • Alcohol abusers and persons having an alcoholism problem
  • Having health problems such as diabetes, heart diseases, obesity, etc.

Those who plan to become pregnant or lose weight with a diet are advised to postpone the surgery decision.

Things to do before breast reduction surgery

  • Do not consume cigarettes or alcohol for a certain period before (or even after) the surgery.
  • In order to control bleeding during surgery, do not take anticoagulants such as aspirin.
  • Have a companion with you in the hospital and when you leave the hospital (as you cannot drive).

Choosing a plastic surgeon and clinic for breast reduction surgery

Breast reduction surgery is performed by surgeons specialized in the plastic and reconstructive surgery services of private and public hospitals. Choosing an experienced doctor and hospital is very important in the success of the surgery.

A comprehensive research should be done on the surgeon, the success rate of his/her previous surgeries should be found out. It should also be ensured that hospital is a fully-fledged health institution that complies with the hygiene rules.

How is breast reduction surgery performed?


  • The patient is examined, and his/her medical history and the general state of health are evaluated. Various laboratory tests such as blood tests are performed.
  • Mammography is taken. If breast cancer is diagnosed, cancer treatment is administered before the surgery.
  • After these workups, it is decided whether the patient is suitable for the surgery according to the characteristics of the breast such as structure, posture, and size.
  • Breast size and appearance expectations are discussed with the patient.
  • After informing about the risks and benefits of the surgery, an informed consent is obtained.
  • Breasts are examined and measured, and photographed for medical records.
  • If necessary, the patient is examined by anesthetist, internal diseases specialist, pulmonologist and cardiologist.
  • The type of anesthesia to be used in the surgery is explained. Nothing should be eaten and drunk after the evening hours of the day before the surgery; no drugs, including herbal supplements, should be taken.
  • Breast reduction technique is planned according to the patient’s height, the posture and structure of the breast, shoulder width, nipple position and the patient’s desire.

In the breast reduction surgery, liposuction can also be performed. This method alone may also be sufficient if most of the breast is fatty tissue and the amount of excessive skin is not much.

Step by step breast reduction surgery

  • General anesthesia, or sometimes local anesthesia especially if a small amount of breast reduction is performed, is given.
  • An anchor-shaped incision is usually made around the areola and under both breasts.
  • Excess breast tissue, fat and skin are removed in order to reduce size of the breasts.
  • The breasts are reshaped, and the nipple and areola are repositioned. The nipple and areola usually remain attached to the breast, but if the breasts are too large, they may require to be removed and replaced in the appropriate position.
  • Symmetry between the breasts is preserved, or asymmetry problem (if any) is corrected, but there may be some changes in breast size and shape.
  • The diameter of the areola can also be reduced.
  • After the process is completed, the incisions are sutured, gauze patch is placed on them, and the breasts are put on an elastic bandage. Then they are supported by a special surgical bra.
  • In some cases, drainage tubes can be inserted under both arms to drain excess blood and fluid.
  • The surgery takes an average of 3 to 5 hours and it does not usually require hospitalization.
  • Antibiotics and analgesics are prescribed to eliminate the risk of infection and pain. (3)

Although outpatient treatment is generally administered, in some cases it may be necessary to stay in the hospital for 1-2 days. If soluble sutures are not used, follow-up appointments are made for follow-up examination and to remove the sutures after 1-2 weeks.


In the first weeks after the surgery, the sensitivity of the breasts may increase; numbness, swelling, bruising and itching may occur. Pain in the arms and the operation area, and slight restriction in movements may develop.

After breast reduction surgery care

  • To protect the breasts and to help reduce swelling, an elastic compression bra should be used 24 hours a day for the period recommended by the doctor.
  • Underwired bra should not be worn for several months, athlete bra should be worn.
  • Physical activities that may cause pectoral muscles to stretch during recovery period should be limited for 2-4 weeks. Heavy things (more than 5 kilos) should not be lifted.
  • It should not be forgotten that it may take some time to adapt to new form of breasts.
  • If the operation is successful, patients can return to their normal life after 15-20 days. However, it is extremely important to exactly follow the doctor’s instructions as the recovery process of this surgery may sometimes prolong.

In some cases, additional surgery may be required to correct failures or improve the appearance of the breasts. In addition, in case of putting on weight, breasts may enlarge again, the symmetry may be disrupted, the shape may change and differentiate.

After the breast reduction surgery, there will be visible scars on the breasts. These are almost always in areas that can be covered with a bra or swimsuit. Scars may disappear over time but do not totally vanish.

How to reduce breast size naturally?

Going on a diet

Breast size can be reduced by losing weight.

Herbs to reduce breast size

There are many herbal cures to reduce the size of the breasts. The most effective one of these cures is ginger cure that burns fat in the breasts. The application of this cure is as follows:

  • Cut cube-sugar-sized fresh ginger into small pieces with a knife or blender. Then boil it in 1 glass of water for 10 minutes and let it brew.
  • Drink it 2 times a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. To sweeten it, 1 teaspoon of honey can be added.
  • It should be prepared daily as it should be drunk fresh.

Furthermore, applying egg white to the breasts and waiting for 30 minutes and then cleaning with onion juice rested in a glass of water not only reduce the size of the breasts but also help them lift upright. It is especially recommended for women over 40 years old.

Breast reduction exercises

Exercises are beneficial only if done regularly. Some of effective exercises are:


  • Lying on facedown, legs are extended to stretch.
  • To keep balance and support the body, the fingers should stay apart.
  • The palm is firmly pressed on the ground, the chest is lifted up and after staying 30 seconds in this position the chest is lowered again.
  • The exercise should be practiced every day in the morning and evening for 10 minutes.

Weight lifting

  • This exercise can be practised standing upright or sitting upright on a chair.
  • Dumbbells weighing an average of 2 kg are held in both hands. The arms are first extended to the sides, and moved up and down, then extended to the front, and moved up and down.
  • It should be repeated at least 10 times every day.

Furthermore, brisk walking, climbing stairs and swimming also help reduce the size of the breasts.

Prices for breast reduction surgery

Important factors affecting the prices of this surgery are the city where the hospital is located, the experience of the surgeon and the quality of the hospital. 2020 prices are between 2,500-10,000 $. More detailed information can be obtained from the hospital where the surgery will be performed.

SSI and private insurances do not cover the costs if the surgery is performed for aesthetic purposes. The only exception is the approval of health problems arising from enlarged breasts by a health committee of specialists.

What are the risks of breast reduction surgery?

As in all surgeries, breast reduction surgery, even if they are rare, carries the risk of bleeding, infection, anesthesia reaction, pulmonary embolism. (4)

Other possible risks include:

  • Bruise, usually temporary
  • Scar
  • Loss of sensation in the nipples and breasts
  • Difficulty or insufficiency in breastfeeding
  • Differences in size, shape and symmetry of surgically altered left and right breasts (additional surgery may be required to improve the appearance)
  • Long recovery process

These risks are rarely seen if the surgery is performed by an experienced surgeon in a high quality hospital, and the patient follows the instructions suggested by the doctor after surgery. For more:>>> Breast reduction

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