Breast Reduction Recovery

I want to have a breast reduction surgery, but after seeing pictures of patients whose operation went very wrong, I got worried and discouraged. Why do some patients who have breast reduction surgery end up with dead tissue and really awful wounds? How can you prevent that? Is it the doctor's fault? If the operation goes great and the patient follows the post operation treatment correctly, can still this happen? If the doctor I'm seeing is a member of the ISAPS, can I be assured that he won't do anything wrong? Please, I'm really really worried.

Doctor Answers 54

Breast reduction surgery complications

Breast reduction surgery removes a large amount of tissue: anywhere from 1-4+ lbs of tissue per side.  When the remaining tissue does not have adequate blood flow, healing problems can occur.  These might range from a small area that is slow to heal, all the way up to losing a nipple.  The major risk factors for healing problems are:
  1. Smoking
  2. Diabetes
  3. Very large breast size
If you have very large breasts, your surgeon may recommend a free nipple reduction, where the nipple is taken off the breast and put back on as a skin graft.  This ensures good blood flow to the nipple in its new position.  

I require my patients to quit smoking before reduction surgery to help minimize risks due to smoking.

Good management of diabetes can help decrease risks as well.  This is evaluated by looking at the hemoglobin A1c level.

In addition, ask your surgeon how many breast reductions he or she does a year, as well as his/her complication rate.  This should give you a better idea of your individual risk of complications after breast reduction surgery.

Cleveland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Bad Results With Breast Reduction

First, most surgeons put their best pictures up on the internet and many patients put their worst disasters on the internet. The end result is that you see the best 10% and the worst 10% but not the middle 80%. Breast reduction surgery has an exceptionally high satisfaction rate, higher than any other procedure that plastic surgeons do.  The reason is that results are immediate, improvement fitting into clothes and comfort walking around is often better only a few days after surgery than it was before surgery, and most people go through surgery without any complications.  Take some time to find a good plastic surgeon who does multiple variations of a breast reduction and who can match the procedure to your body. Find someone you trust and an office you feel comfortable in. Stay away from those who pressure you into surgery and DO NOT SMOKE before your operation.
Dr. Pyle

Jeremy Pyle, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Technique & Breast Reduction Recovery

I prefer to use a minimal incision surgery with a “#vertical” or “#LollipopBreastReduction #scar technique. The benefits of this technique include approximately fifty percent less scarring, a narrower breast, better forward projection and shape, longer lasting improvement, shorter surgery time and less complications.

The initial discomfort post procedure subsides daily and can be controlled with oral medication.
Most patients resume normal activity within two weeks. However full activity, lifting, sports, with no restrictions is safer after 6 weeks Some discomfort, swelling and discoloration of the #breasts are to be expected for several weeks. 

The scars at the incision lines typically become reddish and a few weeks after surgery are raised and firm. In a number of months they become pale and soft. After 8-12 months, the scars are relatively inconspicuous. The #nipples and some areas of the skin may be numb or sensitive after surgery. Sensation may return within a few weeks or months, but may be diminished or overly sensitive.

Your procedure should be performed by a #PlasticSurgeon who is board-certified and has a great deal of experience specializing in cosmetic #surgery. You will then greatly improve your chances of getting the result you desire, and, without the need for a revision surgery. It is suggested that you look at before and after photos of the surgeons actual patients, and read patient reviews. Gathering all of this information will help you make a well-informed decision.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

Breast Reduction Recovery

Thank you for your question. I applaud you on your thorough research about a breast reduction. Complications in breast reductions can occur, even to the most experienced breast surgeons. However, these can be minimized with careful attention to the "nipple's blood supply" as it is lifted and minimal tension on the closure. Remember that breast reductions also have the highest rate of satisfaction in plastic surgery. I recommend that you see 2-3 board certified plastic surgeons about your breast reduction.

Complications of Breast Reduction Surgery

Thank you for your question.  I am sorry to hear that your friend had some post-operative complications after her breast reduction surgery and I hope that she is doing well.  My first question would be is your friend a nicotine smoker or is she a diabetic?  The reason I ask is that nicotine is one of the leading factors that contributes to tissue necrosis and is closely followed by diabetes.  Patients who are active nicotine smokers or are diabetic have an increased risk of complications, especially wound healing complications.  

In my practice, patient satisfaction with their breast reduction procedure has been tremendous and I am a firm believer that appropriate followup care and patient compliance with post-operative instructions (and restrictions) greatly affects the patient's experience AND their surgical result.  My recommendation to you and anyone who is interested in having a breast reduction procedure is to make sure that you consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in breast reduction surgeries.  Many patients make the mistake of searching for the best deal, instead of focusing on surgeon experience, surgeon expertise and training.  Speak with your doctor about your concerns and be honest with the plastic surgeon you ultimately choose about your medical and social history (including any past or present nicotine use).  I hope this helps and best of luck!

Breast Reduction Recovery is Fast! Low Complication Rate!

Surgery can be scary!   It is important to understand the risks, and then, it's not so scary.  

Breast reduction patients routinely have surgery, recover quickly and celebrate freedom! From back pain, neck pain, shoulder strap indentation, rash and headaches. They are able to exercise better, sleep better, and breathe better. 

In a large outcome study, 98.7% of breast reduction patients were either Very Glad, or Glad that they had surgery.  

I perform about 100 breast reductions a year, and they are among my happiest patients!  

Breast reduction is usually an out patient surgery which takes about two hours.  Patients take pain medicine for 1-3 days and return to a desk job in an average of one week.  Patients are cleared for full activity at two weeks.   It is a Rapid Recovery procedure! 

So, what can go wrong?  Thankfully, the complication is low. Complications occur more often in patients at greater risk: smokers, diabetics, patients with obesity and scarring from previous breast surgery.  

Most common, a little 'scabby' healing, usually trivial, usually healed up in 2-3 weeks.  5-10% chance.  

Permanent nipple numbness. 1% 

Scars.  Some scarring is necessary, but with good scar management, they can be minimized.  Short scar techniques like No Vertical Scar and Lollipop techniques combined with aggressive scar treatments afterward, yield very many Happy patients.  

Bigger complications, like large skin loss and nipple loss, occur even less frequently, way less than 1% of the time.  Even with these rare complications, a reasonable result is usually still achieved. 

Breast reduction recovery

Many thanks for your valid question and concerns.

Breast Reduction surgery is a common procedure and in most cases is very successful and without complication. There are risks associated with any surgical procedure including those you referred to such as wound breakdown and infection however if you are fit and well with no history of smoking then you should absolutely get a good result.

ISAPS as with all professional society's provide a degree of assurance as you know that the Plastic surgeon is accredited. It is impossible to guarantee results however ask your surgeon to show you pictures of other breast reduction surgery that hes performed. You should have confidence in your surgeon.

Good Luck

Breast Reduction Recovery

Thank you for your question.  There can be no guarantee that a complication will not occur.  There is risks with every surgery that is performed.  It is great that your seeing a board Certified Plastic Surgeon.  Breast reduction surgery are one of the most satisfying surgeries for patients.  See plenty of before and after photos and speak to your surgeon's patients who underwent a breast reduction to help you feel more at ease.  Best Wishes.


Breast reduction, or reduction mammaplasty patients are among the most satisfied of all plastic surgery patients. Large breasts (macromastia) can often decrease quality of life for a woman. With breast reduction, you can have smaller breasts that sit higher on your chest wall. You will also find relief in your neck and back with the decrease in weight and more ergonomic position of your breasts.
There are several different variations of breast reduction, differing by size, and amount of incisions; procedure; and the results. The different types of reduction techniques include: The wise pattern breast lift, the anchor shaped incision, and the donut mastopexy.
1. The wise pattern breast lift involves an anchor-shaped incision around the natural contour of the breast. To most patients surprise, this scar is mostly hidden under the inferior aspect of the breast. However, the scar around the nipple/areola is visible. Most patients heal this anchor type scar very well and are satisfied with smaller areola in exchange for the scars. This surgery is used when there is a lot of excess skin that needs to be removed in order to lift the breast and give it a more aesthetic shape.
2. Often times, the anchor shaped incision can me diminished to create a lollipop or J shaped incision. This results in some excess skin at the inferior aspect of the breast near the breast crease that will flatten out over a 6 month period. Some patients are willing to tolerate this excess skin for 6 months in exchange for a smaller scar. This is a personal decision that each patient can make.
3. The donut mastopexy involves creating an incision around the areola and removing a doughnut-shaped area of skin. This surgery can be used for patients that need a smaller amount of lifting. This surgery results in a scrunched-up look to the breast skin surrounding the areola for about 6 months before it flattens out. Patients need to be understanding and tolerant of this in exchange for an areola-only scar. These patients do run the risk of areola widening as well.
Insurance may cover some of these cases when back pain, shoulder bra-notching, and rashes under the breast are present. Insurances vary though and your doctor can submit a report and photos to see if your insurance approves your procedure.
The risks of the procedure include bleeding, infection, bruising, poor scarring, pain, swelling, and changes to nipple and areola sensation, and rarely, partial or total nipple loss. The recovery time is usually a couple weeks if all goes well. In general, however, breast reduction patients are some of the most satisfied and grateful plastic surgery patients. This is truly a life-changing procedure. In my area, the cost ranges from 6700-8500. Best of luck!

Sheila S. Nazarian, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Breast reduction complications

Complications happen to the very best of surgeons in the world.  There is no guarantee you will be complication-free.  However, reduction surgery is generally very safe and it is unlikely that anything bad would happen.  Necrosis (dead skin) can occur, but it usually is due to poor circulation to the skin at the bottom of the breast.  If it is a large enough area, your surgeon can fix it with a minor procedure in the office under local anesthesia.

Allen M. Doezie, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 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.