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Step-by-Step Guide to How Breast Reduction Surgery Works

If you’re looking for a straightforward answer to “how does breast reduction surgery work?”, here’s the quick rundown. Breast reduction surgery involves:

  • Anesthesia to keep you comfortable during the procedure.
  • Making incisions on the breasts according to a specific pattern.
  • Removing excess tissue and fat to reduce the size.
  • Repositioning the nipple to match the new breast shape.
  • Closing the incisions with sutures.
  • Recovery, which involves managing pain and following care instructions from your surgeon.

Whether you’re navigating the discomfort of oversized breasts or longing for a confidence boost by aligning your outer appearance with your inner self, breast reduction surgery might be your next step. OC Breast Surgery specializes in giving you not just a surgery, but a transformative experience. Our target is to address both the physical and emotional uproars brought by large, unwieldy breasts. From alleviating physical ailments such as back pain and skin issues to enhancing self-esteem, our approach is tailored to meet your unique needs and ensure natural-looking results.

Here at OC Breast Surgery, we understand the journey doesn’t end with surgery. Our comprehensive care spans from initial consultation through recovery, designed specifically for women in Newport Beach, California, who have been disheartened by past surgical outcomes or daunted by the prospect of navigating their surgical options alone.

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Understanding Breast Reduction Surgery

When considering how breast reduction surgery works, grasp the steps involved in the procedure. This knowledge helps in setting realistic expectations and preparing for the journey ahead. Let’s break down the key components: anesthesia types, incision patterns, tissue removal, and nipple repositioning.

Anesthesia Types

Comfort during surgery is a top priority. Two main types of anesthesia are used to ensure you’re pain-free:

  • Intravenous sedation: This type involves sedatives administered through a vein, making you partially or fully asleep.
  • General anesthesia: Here, you’re completely asleep and unaware of the procedure.

Your surgeon will recommend the best option based on your health, the extent of the reduction, and personal preference.

Incision Patterns

The pathway to a smaller size involves strategic incisions. The patterns commonly used are:

  • Lollipop Incision: This incision goes around the areola and down to the breast crease, resembling a lollipop shape.
  • Keyhole Incision: Named for its shape, this incision encircles the areola and extends downwards but involves less skin removal than the lollipop incision.

The choice of incision is influenced by your breast size, the desired reduction amount, and how much reshaping is needed.

Tissue Removal

Reducing the volume is the core of breast reduction. Excess breast tissue, fat, and skin are carefully removed to achieve a smaller, lighter breast. In some cases, liposuction may be used to remove extra fat, especially on the sides of the breasts or under the arms, for a more contoured outcome.

Nipple Repositioning

Maintaining a natural look involves repositioning the nipple and areola to a higher, more central location on the breast. This step is crucial for the aesthetic result. In most cases, the nipple remains attached to its blood and nerve supply, preserving sensation. However, for very large reductions, a free nipple graft might be necessary, which could affect sensation.

Understanding these steps demystifies how breast reduction surgery works, setting the stage for a smoother experience. Armed with this knowledge, you’re better prepared to discuss your options and preferences with your surgeon, ensuring the best possible outcome for your needs.

Remember that preparing properly for your surgery is just as important as understanding the procedure itself. Let’s dive into how you can best prepare for this life-enhancing journey.

Diagram showing different incision patterns - how does breast reduction surgery work

Preparing for Your Surgery

Preparing for breast reduction surgery isn’t just about the day of the procedure. It’s about making sure your body and your environment are ready for the journey ahead. Let’s break down the steps to ensure you’re fully prepared.


First things first, you’ll have a detailed consultation with your surgeon. This is your chance to ask questions, express your goals, and get a clear understanding of what to expect. Bring a list of questions and don’t hesitate to discuss any concerns you might have. This meeting is crucial for setting your expectations and building a rapport with your surgeon.


Your health comes first. That’s why you might need a mammogram and a breast exam before your surgery. These tests help ensure there’s nothing that could complicate the procedure. Think of it as a precaution—a way to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Medication Adjustments

Some medications can affect your surgery and recovery. For instance, aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can increase bleeding. Your surgeon will review your medications and might ask you to stop taking some. It’s important to follow these instructions carefully to minimize risks during and after surgery.

Smoking Cessation

If you smoke, you’ll need to quit—at least for a while. Smoking can slow down healing and increase the risk of complications. Try to stop smoking at least a few weeks before and after your surgery. Yes, it’s tough, but it’s for a good reason. Your body will thank you by healing better and faster.

Pre-surgery Instructions

Your surgeon will give you a list of do’s and don’ts before the surgery. This might include not eating or drinking anything after midnight before your surgery day. You’ll also get instructions on how to prepare your home for your recovery. For example, you might want to set up a comfortable recovery area, stock up on ice packs, and ensure you have loose, comfortable clothing that won’t irritate your incisions.

Preparation is key. By following these steps, you’re not just preparing for the surgery itself. You’re setting the stage for a smoother recovery and a faster return to your everyday life.

Next, we’ll walk through the surgical procedure itself, so you know exactly what to expect on the day of your surgery.

The Surgical Procedure Explained

When the day of your breast reduction surgery arrives, understanding how does breast reduction surgery work can help ease any nerves. Let’s break it down into simple steps.

Anesthesia Administration

First things first, you won’t feel any pain during the surgery because you’ll be asleep. Your doctor will give you anesthesia. This might be medicine that makes you sleep deeply (general anesthesia) or medicine that makes you drowsy and numbs the area they’re working on (intravenous sedation). Your doctor will suggest the best option for you.

Making the Incision

After you’re asleep or numb, the surgeon makes an incision. Think of this like drawing the lines where they’ll do their work. There are a few ways they can do this, but the goal is always to make sure scars are as hidden as possible. The lollipop and keyhole are common patterns. They sound cute, but they’re actually named for the shapes of the incisions.

Removing Tissue and Repositioning

Here’s where the main action happens. The surgeon removes some breast tissue and skin to make your breasts smaller. They also move your nipple to a new spot that looks right with your smaller breasts. Sometimes, they make the dark area around your nipple (the areola) smaller too. If your breasts are very large, they might even remove the nipple and areola and move them to a better spot.

Closing the Incisions

After everything’s in the right place, the surgeon stitches up the incisions. They use special stitches inside that help shape your new breast. On the outside, they might use stitches, skin glue, or tape. Yes, you’ll have scars, but they’ll get better over time and are usually in spots that aren’t easy to see.

Liposuction Option

In some cases, if there’s extra fat around your breasts, the surgeon might use liposuction. This is when they suck out the fat through a small tube. It can help give your breasts a smoother shape. Not everyone needs this, but it’s an option.

Remember, every step of this process is about making sure you’re comfortable and safe. The surgery usually takes 2 to 5 hours, depending on what exactly you’re having done.

And that’s it! You’ve just walked through how breast reduction surgery works. Next, we’ll talk about what happens after the surgery, from the first day of recovery to when you can get back to your normal life.

Recovery and Aftercare

After the surgery, the journey to recovery begins. Here’s what you need to know about the next steps:

Hospital Stay

Most breast reduction surgeries are outpatient procedures. This means you might go home the same day. But, some cases require a short hospital stay. This depends on your health, how the surgery went, and your surgeon’s advice.

Dressing and Drains

When you wake up, you’ll have dressings on your breasts. These help with healing. You might also have drainage tubes. These tubes prevent fluid from building up. They’re usually removed in a few days. Your surgeon will tell you how to care for them.

Pain Management

It’s normal to feel pain after surgery. Your surgeon might give you medicine to help. Many people take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Sometimes, stronger medicines are needed. Always take medicines with food and plenty of water. Don’t use ice or heat on your breasts unless your surgeon says it’s okay.

Activity Restrictions

Taking it easy is key. Plan to take some time off work. How long? It depends on your job and how you’re healing. Avoid lifting, pushing, or pulling anything heavy. Also, no strenuous exercise until your surgeon gives the okay. This helps your breasts heal right.

Follow-up Visits

You’ll see your surgeon after the surgery. They’ll check how you’re healing. If you have stitches that don’t dissolve on their own, they’ll remove them. This is also a time to ask questions and get advice on your recovery.

Everyone’s recovery is different. Listen to your body and follow your surgeon’s instructions. This will help you heal well and get back to your normal life sooner.

Next, we’ll answer some common questions about breast reduction surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions about Breast Reduction Surgery

When considering breast reduction surgery, it’s natural to have questions. Let’s address some of the most common inquiries to help you understand what to expect.

How painful is breast reduction surgery?

Many people worry about pain. The truth is, everyone’s experience with pain is different. After surgery, you’re likely to feel some discomfort and soreness, which is normal. Your surgeon will give you pain medication to help manage this. Most patients report that the pain is manageable and decreases significantly within the first week. The goal of this surgery is to make you more comfortable in the long run!

How big do your breasts need to be to get a reduction?

There’s no specific “size requirement” for breast reduction surgery. It’s more about how your breasts affect your life. If you’re experiencing physical discomfort like back pain, neck pain, or skin issues under your breasts, or if you’re self-conscious about their size, you might be a candidate for surgery. It’s best to consult with a surgeon, who can assess your situation and provide personalized advice.

Does breast reduction include lift?

Yes, breast reduction surgery usually includes a lift. When the surgeon removes excess tissue and fat to reduce the size of your breasts, they also reshape and lift them to create a more proportional and aesthetically pleasing appearance. This means you get the benefits of both a reduction and a lift, resulting in breasts that are not only smaller but also firmer and higher on your chest.

Understanding the process and what to expect can help ease any anxieties about breast reduction surgery. If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional at OC Breast Surgery. They can provide detailed information tailored to your unique needs and help you make an informed decision.


When you’re considering breast reduction surgery, knowing the end of the story can be just as important as understanding the beginning. Let’s talk about the outcomes you can expect, including satisfaction rates, scarring, sensation changes, and insurance coverage. Plus, we’ll touch on how OC Breast Surgery supports you through this journey.

Satisfaction Rates
The good news is, most people who undergo breast reduction surgery are very happy with their results. Studies show that up to 95% of patients report satisfaction with their new breast size, shape, and the relief from physical discomfort they experience. It’s not just about looks; it’s about improving quality of life. Whether it’s being able to exercise more comfortably or finding clothes that fit better, the benefits are significant.

Yes, scars are a part of the journey, but they tend to fade over time. Initially, scars might be red and noticeable, but they gradually become less visible. Surgeons at OC Breast Surgery are experts in placing incisions strategically, so scars are as discreet as possible. These scars are often seen as a small price to pay for the considerable relief and satisfaction patients feel post-surgery.

Sensation Changes
It’s common to experience a temporary loss of sensation in the nipples or breast skin after surgery. For most, this sensation returns over time. While permanent sensation loss is rare, it’s something to discuss with your surgeon during the consultation phase. They can provide more information based on their experience and your specific situation.

Insurance Coverage
Navigating insurance can be tricky, but many insurance plans do cover breast reduction surgery, especially if it’s deemed medically necessary. At OC Breast Surgery, we recommend starting the conversation with your insurance provider early. Our team is also here to help guide you through the process, providing necessary documentation and support for insurance claims.

OC Breast Surgery
Choosing the right team for your surgery is crucial. At OC Breast Surgery, we’re committed to providing not just expert surgical care, but also comprehensive support from consultation through recovery. Our goal is to ensure you feel informed, comfortable, and confident at every step. With a high rate of patient satisfaction and a deep understanding of the nuances of breast reduction, we’re here to help you achieve the results you’re seeking.

In conclusion, breast reduction surgery offers a path to greater comfort, confidence, and overall well-being. While there are considerations like scarring and sensation changes, the high satisfaction rates speak volumes about the positive impact this surgery can have. If you’re ready to take the next step or simply want to learn more, visit us at OC Breast Surgery for a consultation on breast reduction. Let’s work together towards a more comfortable you.