What are the complications and side effects of a breast reduction?

You should expect to feel tired and you will have some breast pain. This is normal! Your surgeon will give you a prescription painkiller to ease you through the first few days after surgery. It's important to note that a breast reduction will cause scars along the incisions as a normal side effect. These scars are permanent; however, they will fade with time. Also, depending on the extent of your procedure, you may not be able to breastfeed.

You should avoid lifting heavy objects during the first few weeks to reduce tension on the incision and decrease your risk of bleeding problems. A loss or change in the feeling to the nipple may also result from breast reduction. In some cases, the change is permanent. Though they are rare, some people may experience certain complications, such as inadequate healing of the nipple area, which may require a skin graft.

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience
  • Fever.
  • Unusual discharge from the incision site, including pus, (this could be a sign of an infection).
  • Release or detachment of any sutures before you are due to have them removed.
  • Enlargement on one or both breasts associated with pain and pressure.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/10/2014.


  • American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Breast Reduction: Reduction Mammaplasty Accessed 4/11/2014.
  • Vasconez HC, Habash A. Chapter 41. Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. In: Doherty GM. eds. CURRENT Diagnosis & Treatment: Surgery, 13e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2010. library.ccf.org Accessed 4/11/2014.
  • Gonzalez MA, Glickman LT, Aladegbami B, Simpson RL. Quality of life after breast reduction surgery: a 10-year retrospective analysis using the Breast Q questionnaire: does breast size matter?. Ann Plast Surg. 2012;69(4):361-3.

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