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FAQs about Breast Reduction Surgery for Women

Steven M. Katz, MD | Stony Brook Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Steven M. Katz

Breast augmentation has been the top cosmetic surgical procedure since 2006, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). That procedure meets a set of needs different from those associated with breast reduction, which women commonly have not just for aesthetic reasons but for health reasons.

Overly large breasts often cause neck and back pain that limits physical activity and can have a negative impact on lifestyle. Breast reduction surgery can change all that. Indeed, for many women, breast reduction is a life-changing experience.

Here, Steven M. Katz, MD, assistant professor of surgery and a member of our Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Division, answers a few of the frequently asked questions about breast reduction surgery for women.

Q: What is breast reduction surgery?

A: Also known as reduction mammaplasty, breast reduction surgery reduces the size of the breast and lifts it into a higher position on the chest wall. During the procedure, the surgeon removes excess breast fat, glandular tissue, and skin to achieve the desired breast size and look.

Overly large breasts can cause some women to have both health and emotional problems.

Q: Who is a good candidate for a breast reduction?

A: Women with breasts that are too large for their frame. A popular misconception is that only women with very large breasts are good candidates for a breast reduction.

Q: What are the most common benefits of breast reduction surgery?

A: An immediate end to back and neck pain. After the immediate post-op period, women are able to maintain a more active life with more frequent exercise. Women fit into normal-sized blouses and bras. (See the ASPS before-and-after photo gallery.)

Q: What are the risks involved with breast reduction surgery?

A: Very rarely, some loss of breast tissue may occur as a result of inadequate blood flow to the remaining breast tissue. This occurs more frequently in women who smoke. Occasionally, the reduced breasts are slightly uneven in size. Occasionally, surgical scars remain dark and raised after complete healing has occurred.

Q: Are there different kinds of breast reduction procedures?

A: Yes, different techniques for different sizes and shapes of breasts.

Breast reduction surgery is considered reconstructive, not simply cosmetic, surgery.

Q: How much pain is there after breast reduction surgery?

A: Mild to moderate pain may occur. This pain is easily controlled with Tylenol-type products.

Q: How long does it take to get back to normal after breast reduction surgery?

A: The recovery period ranges from several days to a week or two.

Q: What is the long-term outcome like for most people who have breast reduction?

A: No discomfort, a more active lifestyle, and a more youthful appearance.

Q: How much does a breast reduction surgery cost? Will insurance cover it?

A: In many cases, if medical necessity can be demonstrated, insurance companies will cover it. Without insurance a breast reduction is costly.

Q: What makes breast reduction surgery at Stony Brook Medicine special?

A: Stony Brook's plastic surgeons are very experienced in different types of breast reduction procedures. This experience translates into the best possible outcomes. Another plus is the staff is very warm, friendly, and caring, which always helps patients before and after the surgery.

To find out more about breast reduction surgery at Stony Brook, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Katz, or any of our plastic surgeons, by calling 631-444-4666.

Please use our comments feature to submit your own questions about breast reduction surgery to Dr. Katz. Watch a brief video that offers an overview of breast reduction surgery. Learn about other services offered by our plastic surgeons.