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Breast reduction, or reduction mammaplasty, is a surgical procedure to reduce the size of large pendulous breasts that are disproportionate to a woman’s body and can cause physical pain. 

Breast reduction improves breast size, shape and the associated conditions of large breasts that include:

  • Back, neck and shoulder pain cause by the weight of excess breast tissue
  • Shoulder discomfort and indentation from bra straps that support heavy, pendulous breasts
  • Restricted physical activity due to breast size and the associated discomfort
  • Skin irritation beneath the breast crease
  • Sagging, stretched skin and a low breast profile where, when unsupported, the nipple rests below the breast crease
  • An enlarged areola (the dark skin surrounding the nipple) caused by stretched skin

Breast reduction can be performed unilaterally (on one breast) or bilaterally (on both breasts). It is generally considered a reconstructive procedure and may be covered by health insurance when it is performed to relieve medical symptoms. Many insurers define breast reduction surgery as reconstructive based on the amount of tissue that will be removed. However, pre-certification is often required for reimbursement or coverage.

Breast reduction surgery can be performed at any age; however it is best performed when the breasts are fully developed. Because significant amounts of breast tissue are removed, breast reduction surgery may impair the ability to breast feed. Changes in the breast during pregnancy can alter the outcomes of previous breast reduction surgery, as can significant weight fluctuations. In general, good candidates for breast reduction are women of relatively normal, stable weight whose breast development is complete.

Breast Reduction Candidates

  • Healthy individuals who do not have a life-threatening illness or medical conditions that can impair healing
  • Non-smokers
  • Individuals with a positive outlook and specific goals in mind for improving their physical symptoms, breast size and shape 

In some cases, excess fat may be removed through liposuction in conjunction with excision techniques. If breast size is largely due to fatty tissue and excess skin is not a factor, liposuction alone may be used for breast reduction. In every case, the technique used to reduce the size of your breasts will be determined by your individual condition, breast composition, amount of reduction desired, and patient and surgeon preference.