Is Breast Reduction Very Painful?

Doctor Answers (16)

Pain Tolerance Varies from Patient to Patient; It's Not Unusual to Have Pain Following Breast Reduction Surgery

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It’s not unusual to have pain following breast reduction surgery. Pain tolerance varies from patient to patient with some describing it as minimal, while others describe it as severe. In many cases, the quality of the patient’s surgical experience is related to post-operative pain management.

In the immediate post-operative period, patients are given narcotic pain relievers. They are rapidly switched to non narcotic pain relievers as this becomes possible. This usually takes about seven to ten days following surgery.

Small amounts of discomfort may be present for several months following the procedure. When prolonged pain is present, this might indicate the presence of a complication. Under these circumstances, consultation with your plastic surgeon would be appropriate.


Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 73 reviews

Breast Reduction Painful?

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Thank you for your question.
Each patient is different with how they tolerate pain but because no muscle work is performed for breast reduction surgery, it not normally not considered a "painful" surgery.
You will have pain medication prescribed to you by your surgeon to use after surgery.
Best Wishes!

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 681 reviews

Painful breast reduction

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Pain is definitely a subjective thing and everyone is different.  Since reduction techniques do not injure muscle, the pain is usually manageable and after 2-3 days significantly better.  I hope this info helps.

Ronald H. Stefani Jr, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

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How Painful is a Breast Reduction?

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In general, a breast reduction is not painful. Most patients are kept comfortable with pain medication and usually only need it for a couple of days. Many of my patients have commented that they feel immediate relief after surgery from back, and neck pain, which more than makes up for any temporary discomfort from the surgery.

Miguel Delgado, Jr., MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Breast reduction and pain

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In general, breast reduction or breast lift surgery is not that painful.  Most of my patients state that if 10 were the worst pain and 0 was no pain, it is about a 4 out of 10.  Breast augmentation ( implants) are usually like a 6, tummy tucks are like an 8., c-section like a 9/10.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Breast Reduction Surgery is Very Well Tolerated

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Pain is a very subjective feeling, but most patients tolerate breast reduction very well. Most take oral narcotic medication for 2 – 5 days following surgery, and then may continue on acetaminophen or ibuprofen for a few more days. I have even had a few patients who have not taken any oral pain medication past the first few hours post-op.

Post-op compression and support is very important in helping to reduce patient discomfort, and I usually have patients wear a bra for eight weeks following surgery.

Those women who have suffered from significant neck, shoulder, and/or back pain seem to have less surgical site pain; perhaps because they experience relief of the pain that has plagued them for years. Comparing breast reduction surgery to other common plastic surgical procedures of the breast and body, breast reduction is perhaps tolerated better than any other. Best wishes.

Kenneth Dembny, II, MD
Milwaukee Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Vertical breast reduction is not particularly painful - 3.3/10

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First of all, not all breast reductions are created equal.  I use a vertical technique, which has less scarring and better shape than the obsolete inverted-T.  We did surveys with our patients and the average pain rating was 3.3 on a scale of 1 to 10.  That compares to 5.9 for breast augmentation.  So a reduction hurts less than an augmentation (because there is no submuscular dissection).  In fact, patients often feel better right after surgery because the excess weight is gone.  So it's not a difficult operation to recover from.  Today, it is usually done as an out-patient.  Routine hospitalization is unnecessary.

Eric Swanson, MD
Kansas City Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Pain after breast reduction

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Most patients report tolerable pain after breast reduction which wanes be the third to fifth day pos op.  The pain is well controlled with oral medication.  I have always been amazed that within the first 2-3 days after surgery, and despite the swelling that occurs from surgery, most patients tell me that they can feel the difference in the loss of weight from their shoulders, neck, and breasts.

Ricardo Izquierdo, MD
Oak Brook Plastic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Breast Reduction Recovery

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I am frequently impressed with how little pain my breast reduction patients have following surgery.  Patients comment that they experience relief almost immediately from the burden of carrying heavy breasts.  Many say that it is even easier for them to breathe because a weight has been lifted off of their chests.  Of course there is some soreness associated with breast reduction surgery, but this is counterbalanced by the dramatic relief of symptoms from having lighter breasts.

David Stoker, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Breast Reduction - Is It Very Painful?

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Hi morning jog,

In general, this procedure is, perhaps surprisingly, relatively un-painful.

Of course, there's a wide variation from patient to patient and it's hard to make any absolute statements, but this procedure is usually tolerated extremely well.  For one thing, many patients have such a dramatic reduction in weight and volume that, despite the normal post-surgical discomfort, they actually have less pain overall within 24 hours of the surgery.

For another, the surgery does not involve major body cavities, or pressure under tissues (such as would occur with breast implants).  For that, reason, too, it's generally tolerated pretty well.

All in all - much less pain for this procedure that one might think.

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

Alan M. Engler, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 146 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.