Breast Reduction: Before Your Surgery

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What is breast reduction?

Breast reduction surgery removes a lot of the breast tissue and skin from the breasts. This reshapes and lifts the breasts and reduces their size. It can also make the dark area around the nipple smaller.

Your doctor makes a cut around the dark area and down to the crease under the breast. The cut is called an incision. To reduce the breast size, the doctor removes extra skin and breast tissue. The doctor sews the remaining skin together. This tightens and lifts the breasts. The surgery may pull the nipples and the area around them into a different spot on the breasts. Your doctor may need to move your nipples higher. You may lose some feeling in them because of this. The doctor closes the incisions with stitches.

After surgery, your breasts will weigh less. But you may have lasting scars on your breasts. And you may have less feeling in your breasts and nipples. Breast reduction may make it hard to breastfeed.

Breast reduction surgery is usually done in a hospital or surgical centre. You will likely be asleep for your surgery. You will probably be able to go home the same day. Depending on the type of work you do, you should be able to go back to work or your normal routine in 2 to 3 weeks. The incisions leave scars that usually fade a lot with time.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. Bring a copy to the hospital. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • Your doctor will use a marker to draw lines on your breasts. He or she will use these lines during surgery to reshape your breasts.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The surgery will take about 2 to 4 hours.
  • You may have drain tubes in your breasts.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your surgery. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: October 13, 2016