Breast reduction, or reduction mammoplasty, is a surgical procedure which removes fat, glandular tissue, and skin from the breasts, making them smaller, lighter, and firmer. Breast reduction surgery is oriented toward women with large, pendulous breasts, since the weight of their breasts may cause neck, back, shoulder, circulation, and/or breathing problems. Even if physical discomfort is not a problem, large breasts can make a woman-or a teenage girl-feel extremely self-conscious.

Breast reduction is nearly always performed under general anesthesia.

The most common method of reducing the breasts involves three incisions. One incision is made around the areola. Another runs vertically from the bottom edge of the areola to the crease underneath the breast. The third incision follows the natural curve of the breast crease. Newer techniques of reduction have eliminated the need for the horizontal incision in the breast crease, and are therefore much more acceptable to the patients.

After the surgeon has removed excess breast tissue, fat and skin, the nipple and areola are shifted to a higher position. The areola, which in large breasts usually has been stretched, also is reduced in size. Skin that was formerly located above the nipple is brought down and together to reshape the breast. Liposuction may be used to improve the contour under the arm. After breast reduction surgery, it is often possible to return to work within just a couple of weeks. Unless you gain or lose a significant amount of weight or become pregnant, your breast size should remain fairly constant.