Breast Reduction Surgery for Large Breasts or Gynecomastia – Are You a Candidate?

Reviewed by Richard J. Greco, MD, FACS

If you experience back and/or neck pain as a result of overly large breasts, then breast reduction surgery (reduction mammoplasty) may be an option. During breast reduction, your surgeon removes excess breast fat, glandular tissue and skin so that your breasts are in better proportion with the rest of your body.

Most women wait until their breasts are fully developed before considering breast reduction surgery. That said, some teenage girls whose breast size causes pain or excessive self-consciousness may also benefit from breast reduction surgery. You should be at a stable weight before considering breast reduction, as weight gain or loss can affect the size of your breasts.

Some men with gynecomastia (excessive breast tissue) are good candidates for breast reduction as well.

Your Breast Reduction Consultation

The first step in determining if you are a candidate for breast reduction is to schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. Choosing a surgeon can be a difficult task, as many surgeons promote themselves as being highly qualified. To help you in your search, Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery has created a directory that exclusively lists surgeons who are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Certification by the ABPS is widely regarded as the highest level of certification attainable for plastic surgeons. By choosing one of these surgeons, you increase your chances of a safe, successful surgical experience.

At your initial consultation, your surgeon will examine your breasts on their own and in relation to your frame. He or she will also take a thorough medical history, including questions about how your breast size affects your self-esteem, your ability to exercise and your sleep. Your surgeon will ask if your breast size is the cause of medical issues such as back and neck pain, trouble breathing, postural problems, and/or skin irritation, rashes, or infections beneath the breast crease.

The medical history will also involve questions about your smoking and alcohol use. Be honest with your surgeon. Smoking and alcohol use can compromise the outcome of your breast reduction surgery. Also, let your surgeon know which medications — both prescription and over-the-counter — that you take on a regular basis. He or she will also discuss your expectations about breast reduction surgery.

Childbearing and Nursing After Breast Reduction

If you are planning to have children and breast-feed in the future, let your surgeon know during the consultation. Some breast reduction surgery techniques allow the surgeon to reposition the nipples without detaching them from the underlying tissue, possibly preserving your ability to nurse. Breast reduction surgery may, however, reduce your natural milk supply, as some of the milk-carrying ducts may be removed during the procedure.

Many surgeons say that women who have had breast reduction surgery are among their most satisfied patients. Breast reduction can reduce pain and self-consciousness and allow you to exercise, find clothing that fits, and greatly improve your overall quality of life.

Candidates for Male Breast Reduction

Candidates for male breast reduction include men with excessive fat or tissue on their chest (a condition known as gynecomastia) who wish to achieve a flatter, more masculine chest appearance. Ideal candidates are healthy men of normal weight whose breast development has stabilized and who have realistic expectations for what surgery can accomplish. Teenage boys may qualify for the surgery if their gynecomastia has persisted for two years or is exceptionally severe.

Preparing for Your Consultation

Some plastic surgeons charge a consultation fee, while others do not. In addition, some surgeons will allow you to apply the fee to the breast reduction cost if you schedule a surgery. Be clear about the surgeon's consultation policy in advance. Get the most out of your consultation by preparing a list of questions, and consider bringing a loved one with you to the appointment. Questions may cover topics such as recovering from breast reduction, breast reduction risks and costs. Visit our gallery of breast reduction before and after pictures before your consultation to get a better idea of what this procedure can do for you.