Treatment Options

Breast Reduction Mammaplasty

Moderate Value

Reduction mammaplasty is the surgical removal of breast tissue, which would include glandular tissue and skin. Breast enlargement usually affects both breasts, so the reduction is generally done on both breasts under general anesthesia. One night's stay in the hospital may be necessary for observation after the procedure, and activities may be restricted for up to eight weeks after the surgery. The first menstrual period after the procedure may cause the breasts to swell and hurt. Sexual intercourse should be avoided for one to two weeks after the surgery, because it may cause the breast to swell and hurt.

Many doctors will not consider doing this surgery for smokers and will recommend that an individual stop smoking at least two weeks before the surgery. If you plan to have babies after the surgery, discuss this procedure with your doctor in advance. You may not be able to breast-feed after having this type of surgery.

Things to Consider

  • The need for breast reduction mammaplasty can be determined using nationally recognized criteria, such as the Schnur Sliding Scale. You and your doctor can use this scale to determine if the procedure will help relieve your symptoms.
  • Breast reduction mammaplasty may also be called breast lift, mastopexy, breast size reduction, or breast lift with reduction.
  • This procedure may interfere with mammography, possibly making it more difficult to detect breast cancer.
  • Scarring will occur, usually on the bottom side of the breasts and in natural skin folds. These scars should not be visible through the bra and clothing but in some cases scarring can be severe.
  • Do not expect perfect looking breasts. Instead expect a decrease in your symptoms that are caused by the weight of your breasts.
  • Breast reduction mammaplasty should only be done after breast development is complete (usually around the age of 18 years).


Moderate Value

Will I live longer if I have this procedure?

The removal of breast tissue will make it easier for many individuals to walk and to exercise. The ability to participate in physical activity has been associated with a healthier lifestyle, so the reduction mammaplasty may increase how long you will live.

Will the treatment of macromastia improve my quality of life?

Yes, the breast reduction mammaplasty could improve your ability to participate in physical activity, which would permit a more active lifestyle and would enable an individual to be out of the house more often.

Will the treatment of macromastia improve my symptoms?

Yes, studies have shown that shoulder pain, shoulder grooving, back pain, neck pain, breast pain, intertrigo (rash in the skin fold under the breast), headache, pain and numbness in the hands were all significantly improved after breast reduction mammaplasty.


Moderate Value

How safe is breast reduction mammaplasty for me?

This is a surgical procedure and does have the risk of complications.

Minor reported complications:

  • Scaring that may be extensive
  • Nipple or breast sensory change or numbness
  • Nipple loss
  • Final size - no one can guarantee an individual's final cup size
  • Asymmetry (difference in the size of the breasts)

Major reported complications:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding/hemorrhage
  • Delayed healing
  • Death

Minor reported complications:

  • Discoloration (bruising)
  • Pain
  • Scarring
  • Soreness
  • Uneven fat removal (asymmetry)

Major reported complications:

  • Allergic reaction to the medication used for sedation/anesthesia – heart and lung complications
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots (thrombus)
  • Fat in the blood stream (fat embolism)
  • Fluid overload
  • Infection
  • Nerve, skin, tissue, or organ damage
  • Need for surgical revision
  • Numbness
  • Poor wound healing
  • Shock


Moderate Value

Alternative treatment:

  • Weight loss
  • Weight loss may or may not help with breast size, but some physicians will want individuals to reduce their weight before considering breast reduction mammaplasty.

Alternative treatments include:

  • Physician/nutritionist directed diet for weight loss
  • Exercise


Moderate Value

The average charge for breast reduction mammaplasty is over $6,500.00.

The cost may or may not be covered by your health benefits plan.


The following are off-site links off-site link :

American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (2014). Breast reduction mammaplasty. Retrieved March 18, 2014 from (2011, October). Breast reduction surgery. Retrieved March 18, 2014 from

MedicineNet. (2014). Breast reduction. Retrieved March 18, 2014 from

Medline Plus. U. S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health. (2011, February). Cosmetic breast surgery. Retrieved March 4, 2013 from

Medline Plus. U. S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health. (2013, January). Breast reduction (mammoplasty) - series. Retrieved March 18, 2014 from

WebMD. (2012). Breast reduction. Retrieved March 18, 2014 from

Next Review Date


This document has been classified as public information.

Table of Findings

results:  moderate value

safety:  moderate value

comparison:  moderate value

cost: moderate value

total: moderate value



Page modified:March 31, 2014