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HealthInfo Canterbury

Breast reduction

What is breast reduction?

Breast reduction is an operation to reduce the size of very large breasts. Very large breasts can cause health and emotional issues. They can be very uncomfortable or affect a woman's self-image.

The purpose of surgery is to make the breasts smaller and lighter. The breast tissue, fat, and skin over the breast is reduced. Often surgery reduces the darker skin around the nipple (areola) and moves the nipples higher up. This operation is called reduction mammoplasty.

Is breast reduction surgery for me?

Breast reduction surgery aims to help fix problems such as:

Surgery is only done once your breasts have finished developing.

The alternatives to surgery include:

Publicly funded breast reduction surgery is done for medical, rather than cosmetic reasons. If you are obese (with a body mass index, or BMI, higher than 30) you should first try to lose weight, as that can help with oversized breasts. After that, if you are interested in surgery talk to your GP. Your GP can refer you to a plastic surgeon if appropriate.

If you smoke you should stop smoking. Smoking affects healing after surgery so you are less likely to be offered surgery if you continue smoking.

Only a few people who see a surgeon for breast reduction are able to get publicly funded surgery. You may want to pay to see a private plastic surgeon.


Image courtesy of creativedoxfoto at

In this section

Breast reduction surgery techniques & risks

Before your breast reduction surgery

After your breast reduction surgery

More information about breast reduction surgery

Page reference: 85826

Review key: HIBRR-85826