I'm 18, Getting a Breast Reduction, but I Stopped Breathing, Should I Be Concerned?

I am getting a breast reduction next Wednesday, but this morning I stopped breathing in my sleep. It was a very strange experience, because I was dreaming and was congested, not being able to breathe out of my nose- only in the dream, though. Is it possible that my brain may have registered this as me being ACTUALLY congested therefore not allowing me to breathe? It lasted for only a few seconds, then I woke up gasping for air. I'm worried now, because of anesthesia, but no breathing problems.

Doctor Answers 7

Apnea prior to cosmetic surgery procedure

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Hello and thank you for the question.

Given your described history, I highly recommend you seek a full medical evaluation prior to proceeding with an elective cosmetic procedure.


Glenn Vallecillos, MD, FACS

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Breast Reduction Pre-op Work Up?

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Thank you for the question  and congratulations on your decision to proceed with breast reduction surgery. It is one of the most patient pleasing operations we perform.

It is unclear to me exactly what occurred while you were sleeping. It will likely be in your best interest to be seen by your primary care physician for evaluation prior to surgery. You should also discuss the occurrence with your plastic surgeon and anesthesiologist.

Once this preoperative workup is completed you will have peace of mind and hopefully a smooth/successful procedure.

Best wishes.

Sleep apnea?

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Do you experience sleep apnea?  This should be investigated before having sugery.  It is kind of a strange story but should be looked into.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Sleep apnea episode in woman about to undergo a breast reduction

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As noted previously, this episode that you describe is called sleep apnea. It is not very common in someone your age unless there is a significant weight problem. That is, your weight far exceeds the ideal for your height which is quantitated as your body mass index or BMI. What happens is that there is a temporary blockage caused by lax tissue in the back of your throat which doesnt' allow air to flow through freely.

Make sure that your plastic surgeon is aware of the experience that you described as well as the anesthesiologist.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Breast Reduction and Not Breathing

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Dear Lashay7607,

You should, of course, speak with your own surgeon and doctors about this, just to be sure.

Even though it seemed like you stopped breathing, it's not clear that you really did.  As you say, it was while you were asleep and it was during a dream.  Most likely, then, is that you just (ie, only) had a dream that involved your being congested and having some trouble breathing.

Sleep apnea is a different situation: patients actually do stop breathing while they're asleep.  Sometimes they wake up and remember being short of breath, sometimes they wake up and don't remember that, and sometimes they just have sleep that is not restful.  There are tests that can be done to see if you have sleep apnea (you go to a sleeping lab and sleep there, and are monitored) and, if so, treatments that can be offered.

However, in the absence of the above, it sounds like you can be comfortable going ahead with your procedure.  Make sure to discuss this with your anesthesiologist ahead of time, but my guess is that this is not going to be a problem for you.

I hope that this helps, and good luck.

Dr. E

Breast Reduction Breathing Problem

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What you may have experienced is called apnea, the technical term for the failure to breathe properly. Although this may be your only experience, you should have this checked out prior to any major surgery, including breast reduction. This problem is usually related to the structures in the back of your throat, and can lead to apnea while sleeping (obstructive sleep apnea).

Contact your primary physician, and of course inform your plastic surgeon as well.

Derek Lou, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Is this Sleep Apnea?

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While somewhat unusual sleep apnea can be a problem in young patients. What is your BMI? Do you snore or have other trouble sleeping?

Breast reduction is a big operation. I think this needs more evaluation before several hours of general anesthesia. I would definitely run this by your plastic surgeon and anesthesiologist.

Thomas R. Walek, MD
Providence Plastic Surgeon

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.