Breast Reduction Complications

What risks and complications could I be facing from having breast reduction surgery?

Doctor Answers 24

Risks and complications of breast reduction

it is good that you think about surgical risks and potential complications of breast reduction.  There are several potential risks: 1) bleeding, 2) scar, 3) pain, 4) hematoma/seroma, 5) nipple sensation change/loss, 6) fat necrosis (hardening of breast tissue), 7) wound dehiscence (break down), 8) infection, 9)breast asymmetry, 10) removal of too much breast tissue or lack of, 11) revisional surgery.  These seem to be a lot of risks and potential complications and may sound scary.  However, these risks/complications are very low when done by experienced plastic surgeons.  Breast reduction can be done safely. Most patients who undergo breast reduction are very happy because their physical symptoms get relieved after the surgery and that they look better cosmetically as well.  

Breast Reduction Complications

Some of the risks and side effect that may result due to Breast Reduction include are:

  • Permanent loss of feeling of the nipples
  • Permanent scarring
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Delayed healing requiring dressings
  • Problems with nursing
  • Regrowth of excess breast tissue or drooping

To reduce your chances of any problems, choose a board certified plastic surgeon and be sure to follow your doctor's instructions carefully.

It is important that you are open and honest with your surgeon about any and all medical information.

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Risks associated with breast reduction

Depending upon who performs the surgery your down side is as follows:

1,  Loss of the nipple = total or partial

2.  Mild loss of skin

3.  Some loss of skin sensation

 4, Fat loss and asymmetry of the breasts  -size and placement upon the chest.

All of these complications are rare but they are dependent  upon the skill of your surgeon.

Gary H. Manchester, MD (retired)
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Breast Reduction risks and side effects

Thank you for your question. Scaring is a normal side effect of breast reduction surgery. These scars will fade over time but will never completely disappear. However, your doctor may have scar screams as an option. They can be made worse if you lift heavy objects too soon after surgery. In rare cases, some people have certain complications, such as problems in healing of the nipple area. You also have the risks of infection if you do not keep incisions clean. Just be sure to follow all of your surgeons post care instructions. Best of luck!

Dhaval M. Patel 
Double board certified
Plastic surgeon
Hoffman Estates

Dhaval M. Patel, MD
Hoffman Estates Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 78 reviews

Breast Reduction Complications

#BreastReduction is performed under general anesthesia as an outpatient operation. The vast majority of our patients tell us that there was far less discomfort in the early recovery period than was anticipated.
The specific risks and suitability of this procedure for a given individual can be determined only at the time of consultation. All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Minor complications that do not affect the outcome occur occasionally. Major complications are rare. If you have redness, swelling, drainage or odor, it is important to call the office and speak with the doctor or medical staff. You may need to be seen in the office and evaluated. If the wound becomes separated or you develop a small opening, this again should be evaluated so that appropriate steps can be taken as soon as possible.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Breast Reduction Complications

Risks associated with breast reduction:

anesthesia risks
blood clots
nipple sensation changes (numbness or increase in sensation)
wound separation

Complications & Areas of Concern Associated With Breast Reduction Surgery

         Although breast reduction surgery is generally considered a safe operative procedure, complications can occasionally occur. The vast majority of complications are the result of wound healing problems and can usually be managed without further surgical intervention.


         Areas of concern include bleeding, infection, anesthesia problems, seromas, pain, scarring, asymmetry, fat necrosis, decreased sensation and wound separation.


         Complications can be minimized by consulting a board certified plastic surgeon with experience performing this procedure. This procedure results in alleviation of symptoms and an improved quality of life.

Breast Reduction Complications

The specific risks and suitability of this procedure for a given individual can be determined only at the time of consultation. All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Minor complications that do not affect the outcome occur occasionally. Major complications are rare. In general there are comlications that apply to surgery just about anywhere such as : excessive bleeding, unsightly scars, pain, fluid collection (seroma) beneath the skin, wound separation, infection,etc.

Then there are complications specific to the breast reduction such as: nipple sensation change/loss, fat necrosis (hardening of breast tissue), breast asymmetry, all of which may require revisional surgery.

Breast Reduction Complications

There are multiple possible complications to a breast reduction.  Fortunately, most patients have a very pleasant experience and are very happy with their results.  However, the possible complications include:  Nipple/areolar and skin sensation changes, asymmetry, scars, keloids, infection, fat necrosis, and others.

Paul Vitenas, Jr., MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 100 reviews

Breast Reduction Risks and Complications

Breast reduction carries the usual surgical risks of infection, bleeding, and complications of anesthesia. On rare occasions, there may be a slight difference in size from one breast to the other, or the nipple-areola complex will have some differences. For most breast reduction procedures, there will be incision scars around the nipple-areola complex down to the base of the breast, and along the bottom crease of the breast. Occasionally, sensation in the nipple and breast area is reduced. The feeling may not return for up to six months. Most women having breast reductions are unable to successfully breastfeed although there are exceptions.  However, going to a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who uses an accredited surgery center or hospital, the risk of these complications is minimized.

Miguel Delgado, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 63 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.