In 2020, more than 193,000 Americans had breast enhancement surgeries, with over 50,000 of them seeking breast reduction surgery.

Both women and men schedule breast reduction surgery (also known as reduction mammaplasty for women and gynecomastia surgery for men) for physical and psychological reasons. Breasts that are excessively large can be painful, leave rashes, inhibit  physical activities, and may cause self-consciousness and a drop in self-esteem.

If you’re curious about breast reduction, you probably have questions. We’ve compiled seven of the most common questions people ask about breast reduction surgery. Here is our list, with answers gathered from the experts. 

1. Are Breast Reduction and a Breast Lift the Same Thing?

This is one of the most common misconceptions about breast reduction surgery. The simple answer is: no, they’re not the same.

Breast reduction surgery does exactly what it says: it reduces the size of the breasts, usually by making an incision around the areola and then downward, removing skin, breast tissue, and fat before closing the incision.

A breast lift may use similar incisions, but the plastic surgeon lifts and repositions the nipple, areola, and remaining breast tissue before suturing the incisions closed.

Many patients have a breast lift along with breast reduction surgery. Ask your doctor whether this option is for you.

2. How Old Do You Need to Be to Have Breast Reduction Surgery?

There is no minimum age for breast reduction surgery. However, many doctors prefer that patients wait until their late teens, or whenever the breasts are likely to have stopped growing. 

The proceedure can be performed before this time may mean the patient needs a second procedure later in life, though not always. Your plastic surgeon can give you a professional opinion on whether you (or your child) are ready for a breast reduction.

3. How Much Does Breast Reduction Surgery Cost?

Breast reduction surgery cost varies. It can depend upon where you’re having the surgery, how extensive the surgery will be, and your own personal health considerations.

Some insurance companies will cover part of the cost of your surgery, depending upon certain factors. Contact your insurance company to find out whether you qualify. The insurance company will need your plastic surgeon’s input as well in order to determine whether any of your surgery is covered.

Also be sure to ask your plastic surgeon’s office whether they offer a payment plan for your surgery.

4. Does Breast Reduction Surgery Hurt?

The procedure itself will not hurt at all as you will be put under general anesthesia.

You will feel very sore in the days following your procedure. Your doctor will send you home with medication for your pain, or with a prescription. Make sure to wear compression garments as your doctor recommends, and follow all of your doctor’s post-surgery instructions.

Soreness usually goes down significantly during the third week. You will probably be taking over-the-counter medication by this time, or you may not need medication at all. This can depend upon your general health, how well you follow post-surgery instructions, and other factors.

5. How Long Does it Take to Recover from Breast Reduction Surgery?

Healing from a breast reduction procedure varies from patient to patient. Most patients feel fully recovered by 6 to 8 weeks after the operation.

Afterward, you will have scars. Ask your doctor what type of scarring you can expect. Usually, scars fade somewhat over a period of 12 to 15 months.

In the meantime, follow your doctor’s instructions to ensure an easy and trouble-free recovery.

6. Can I Wear a Regular Bra After Breast Reduction Surgery?

No. You will wear a special post-surgery bra or compression garment after your procedure.

Your plastic surgeon will advise you when you can wear a regular bra again. For most patients, this will take about a month.

7. What Are the Risks of Breast Reduction Surgery?

Breast reduction surgery can be life-changing, but it’s not without risks. In fact, any surgery carries some degree of risk. 

Your doctor will advise you of the potential for specific risks. These may include, but are not limited to, infection, reduced or lost sensation (usually but not always temporarily), reactions to the anesthesia, blood clots, or scarring. 

Make sure you know all the potential risks before having your surgery. Following pre- and post-operation instructions exactly as your doctor has stated them can help reduce the possibility of health issues.

Have More Questions? Ask Your Doctor

While the above answers apply to most of the breast reduction surgery population, every patient and every surgery is different. Your best bet is to arrange a sit-down consultation with your plastic surgeon and ask any questions you may have.

The better prepared you are, the better your chances for a outcome you’ll love.