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Breast reduction surgery is a procedure that provides relief from symptoms caused by having large breasts. It reduces the size of the breasts and simultaneously lifts the breasts. Thus, breast reduction surgery is performed for functional reasons, cosmetic reasons, or a combination of both. Your particular goals and anatomy determine if a Breast Reduction is right for you, and which method of breast reduction is the most appropriate. Breast reduction surgery may be covered under OHIP but Dr. Tong does not perform OHIP covered procedures. Dr. Lawrence Tong—our plastic surgeon in Toronto—can help you decide if a Breast Reduction is the right procedure for your goals.

What a Breast Reduction Does

As the name implies, Breast Reduction surgery reduces the size of the breasts. A reduction in the weight generally eliminates the symptoms associated with having large breasts (such as neck pain, shoulder grooving, and inframammary rashes). While it reduces breast size, it also accomplishes a number of cosmetic improvements as well.

After surgery, the breasts are much lighter and patients tend to feel much more comfortable. The breasts look rounder, the nipples are re-positioned to the centre of the breast mound, and the areolas (darker skin around the nipple) are made smaller— which is especially important if they are stretched wide from breast enlargement.

In summary, Breast Reduction is designed to:

  • Decrease overall breast size and weight
  • Elevate the breast mound
  • Build a rounder breast shape
  • Raise the descended nipple-areolar complex
  • Reduce the areolar size

Who is a Candidate for Breast Reduction Surgery?

You may be a candidate for breast reduction if:

  • You have large breasts that affect your daily activities
  • You have large breasts that are causing symptoms
  • The weight of your breasts causes grooves in your shoulders from your bra
  • You have neck or back pain related to strain from heavy breasts
  • Your breasts are too large for your preference
  • You want to correct droopy breasts and also want them smaller

Other Criteria for Candidates:

  • Patients should be generally fit and relatively healthy; Dr. Tong always makes an assessment of your general health and suitability before undergoing any type of surgery.
  • Smokers should quit smoking at least 2 weeks prior to surgery.
  • Patients who are breast feeding/pregnant should wait 4-8 weeks after completing breast feeding before having surgery so that the true breast size can be determined.
  • A patient should have realistic expectations about what can be accomplished though Breast Reduction.

Candidates for Breast Reduction may have this procedure covered under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) when there is a medically necessary reason. Otherwise, patients are responsible for out-of-pocket costs.

Methods of Breast Reduction and Their Incisions

Any surgical procedure will leave some type of scar. A plastic surgeon specializes in obtaining the least visible scars and putting them in the least visible places. There are two main techniques of breast reduction leading to two different breast reduction incisions.

Technique: Incision:
short scar Breast Reduction
around the areola plus a vertical incision below the areola
traditional Breast Reduction
incision for a short scar Breast Reduction plus a horizontal incision in the breast fold

Which Technique of Breast Reduction Do I Need?

The method of Breast Reduction for an individual depends on the amount of ptosis (drooping) and breast size. In general, smaller breasts with less drooping requires fewer incisions (short scar technique), and larger breasts with more drooping require more incisions (traditional technique). During your evaluation, Dr. Tong will inform you which method is recommended for your particular anatomy. Wearing any type of clothing will cover all of these scars, regardless of which method is performed.

Details of the Breast Reduction Procedure

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia. You will feel no discomfort and are unaware of your surroundings during the procedure. The surgery is performed at 199 Avenue Road, within Dr. Tong’s private plastic surgery facility in downtown Yorkville, Toronto.

Breast Reduction is carried out by removing excess skin and breast tissue. Most of the skin and breast tissue comes from the lower part of the breast. The nipple position is elevated on the breast mound but remains attached to the breast at all times, so that sensation is preserved. Additionally, the areola, which has usually been stretched in large breasts, is reduced to a more proportional size in relation to the breast mound.

After Dr. Tong reduces and lifts the breasts, he positions the operating table so that you are sitting upright. This allows him to judge the breast shape and symmetry in the most accurate manner. Dr. Tong will fine tune the appearance (as needed) to obtain the most optimal breast appearance for you.

Finally, Dr. Tong meticulously sews the incisions together using plastic surgery techniques. You are placed in a surgical bra, and then gently awakened from anesthesia.

Recovery from Breast Reduction

Right after your Breast Reduction, the nurses bring you to the post anesthesia recovery area, where they monitor you as you slowly wake up. Dr. Tong will allow you to go home, accompanied by a friend or family member when the major effects of anesthesia have worn off.

At home, you are advised to rest and avoid strenuous activities. Limit your routine to sleeping, watching TV, or reading for the first day. Your chest may feel sore for the first 3-7 days. Dr. Tong will provide you with prescriptions for pain medication, which you may use to relieve discomfort. Patients generally return to non-strenuous employment after one week.

Your first post-operative visit occurs at 1 week after surgery. Dr. Tong removes your stitches and checks the incisions. Activity instructions will be given; most patients are allowed to perform light exercise (walking for exercise) at 1-2 weeks after surgery and strenuous activity (weight lifting, aerobics, martial arts) at 4-6 weeks after surgery.

Expect your breasts to be swollen and slightly bruised in the first 1-2 weeks. Wear the bra that we provide, even when sleeping, for the first 3 weeks. The breasts may have a slightly unnatural shape to them. This is entirely normal, and it takes between 1-3 months for them to settle. With time, you will notice that the breasts take on a much more natural look and shape. You will see Dr. Tong at 6 weeks and 6 months after surgery as well. Post-operative photos are taken to document your progress at some of these visits.

Risks and Complications of Breast Reduction

As with any surgery, there are risks involved with having Breast Reduction. Although the procedure has a low risk profile, Dr. Tong will make sure to go through the pertinent potential problems associated with Breast Reduction at the time of your consultation.

Get Educated About Breast Reduction

A Breast reduction consultation provides you with a significant amount of information to digest. Dr. Tong will make sure that you understand every important detail. Dr. Tong will answer all of your questions, and you will never be rushed. Our goal is to make you an educated consumer. We know that an educated patient makes better decisions about their surgery and their surgeon.

To learn more about how Toronto Breast Reduction surgeon Lawrence Tong, MD can help you with Breast Reduction, set up a consultation with Dr. Tong by giving us a call at (416) 972-0999, or let us give you a call; just fill out our contact form and we will contact you on the same or the next business day. No physician referral is needed.

See Dr. Tong’s work in our Breast Reduction before and after photos.

Breast Reduction at a Glance

What the procedure does
Reduces breast size and weight, lifts breasts, and elevates nipple position
Duration of the result
Length of time to perform the procedure
3 hours
Type of anesthetic most commonly used
General anesthesia
Length of time off of work
4-7 days
Time to get back to exercise
2 weeks light exercise, 4-6 weeks heavy exercise
Pitfalls your Plastic Surgeon should avoid
  • placement of nipples too high
  • asymmetry