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Breast Reduction Surgery for Adolescents and Teens

What is Breast Reduction Surgery for Adolescents and Teens?

Breast reduction surgery aims to create breasts with a shape and size in keeping with the rest of the patient’s body. This means reducing the amount of breast tissue itself, but also removing some skin which has grown to accommodate the breast size, and repositioning the nipple areola complex (the nipple and the darker colored skin around the nipple) to the best position on the smaller breast.

What are the risks of Breast Reduction Surgery for Adolescents and Teens?

Complications of breast reduction are fairly common but, by far, the majority of complications are minor, such as a small area of wound breakdown that heals by itself with a few weeks of dressings. Other complications that can happen involve collections of blood or fluid within the breast, that may require another operation to remove, a difference between the two sides after surgery, loss of the feeling in the nipple or loss of the nipple areolar complex entirely, and a change in the breasts requiring further surgery over time, especially after pregnancy, as well as complications from any surgery such as infection, bleeding from the wounds and the risk of blood clots in the legs or lungs.

What can I expect with Breast Reduction Surgery for Adolescents and Teens?

While there are a very large number of types of breast reduction operations, the differences between them are the area of skin and breast tissue that is removed, and the source of the blood supply for the nipple areolar complex once it has been moved into its new position. 

There is ongoing debate between surgeons about which type of breast reduction surgery gives the best long-term shape and changes the least over time, which gives the best scarring, which leaves the most feeling in the nipple and which is least likely to interfere with breast feeding.

Wise Pattern Breast Reduction

Wise Pattern Breast Reduction involves removing skin from the center of the lower half of the breast, and then bringing skin from the sides around to meet in the middle. This gives a good immediate shape to the breast but, following surgery, there is a scar around the nipple areolar complex, a scar from the bottom of this to the fold under the breast, and a scar lying in the fold under the breast.

Vertical Scar Breast Reduction

Vertical Scar Breast Reduction removes skin from the center of the lower half of the breast and also leaves scars around the nipple areolar complex and between this point to the lower half of the breast, but these techniques avoid the scar in the fold under the breast. The advantage of this technique is that there is no troublesome ‘T-junction’ zone in the middle of the fold under the breast. The disadvantages of this technique is that it is less suitable for larger breast reductions and the immediate result of the operation in terms of the shape of the breast is poor.The skin in the lower half of the breast is bunched up and the breast has an unnatural appearance – flat along the lower half and rounded in the top half. This does change over the first 3-6 months following surgery to a very natural breast shape and the bunching of the skin does flatten out over this time, but women considering this procedure must be prepared to accept a poor result for the first few months.

Breast Amputation

 A technique used for very large breasts, in which the length of skin between the nipple areolar complex and the chest is so long that it is not possible to provide the nipple with a good blood supply and reduce the breast. It involves detaching the nipple areolar complex completely, removing part of the breast, reshaping the remaining breast and reattaching the nipple areolar complex. It is not often used for pediatric patients.

Unilateral Reduction

Unilateral reduction is an operation to reduce the size of a breast on one side. Breast reduction surgery involves reducing the amount of breast tissue itself, but also removing some skin, which would be loose if left behind on the smaller breast. It also involves repositioning the nipple areola complex, the nipple and the darker colored skin around the nipple, to the best position on the smaller breast. Because of removing the excess skin and repositioning the nipple areolar complex, it does create scarring on the breast, both around the nipple areolar complex and from the bottom of that to the bottom of the breast. Depending on the amount of skin and tissue removed, there can also be scars in the fold under the breast. Although many women who have had breast reductions can breast feed, some are unable to and so that should be taken into account when deciding whether to have this operation.

Differential Reduction and Mastopexy

Differential reduction/mastopexy is the same procedure but performed on both breasts, taking a larger amount of tissue from the larger breast to correct the asymmetry. A mastopexy is a similar operation to a reduction to correct breast ptosis, in which excess skin is removed and the nipple areolar complex is repositioned but no breast tissue is removed. Sometimes a combination of a breast reduction on the larger side and a mastopexy on the smaller side will give the best overall long-term results.

What can I expect after Breast Reduction Surgery for Adolescents and Teens?

Breast reduction surgeries generally takes a few hours, and patients should plan on staying in the hospital for at least one night following the procedure. Aftercare is important for breast reduction, especially in pediatric patients. You should expect to stay in the hospital for at least one night following surgery and you will be followed up in clinic regularly shortly afterwards. It is important to continue to be reviewed as the breasts change in the months following surgery to ensure the best long-term outcome.