Breast reduction is a major surgery and requires quite a bit of preparation to ensure a successful outcome. You’ll want to prepare yourself both physically and emotionally for the procedure itself and for the recovery period. In addition, you’ll be consulting with your plastic surgeon about all the details of your operation. Here’s a look at five majors areas of preparation you’ll want to address prior to your breast reduction.

Evaluate Your Mental and Emotional Health

Chances are a reduction mammoplasty is something you’ve wanted for a long time – perhaps from the time you were a teenager. Having very large breasts can have a lot of negative impacts for women in today’s body-conscious culture. For example, you might feel uncomfortable about your appearance. You may have experienced being the target of derogatory or suggestive comments from others. Perhaps you find yourself trying to minimize or hide your breasts so people won’t notice them. It’s important to understand that having a breast reduction may not resolve the conflicted feelings you have about your body.

The primary benefit of the surgery is its ability to relieve physical discomfort. You may be very happy with the way your breasts look and feel after the procedure. But it’s unlikely that your breasts will match the ideal image you have in your head. They may not end up the size you thought they would, they probably won’t be completely symmetrical and they will have scars. So, it’s important to have realistic expectations about what your body will look like after the reduction. Your surgeon may be able to show you before and after shots or digitally-created images that will help you understand what to expect. The more you come to terms with these facts before surgery, the more likely it is that you will feel satisfied with the results. It’s also important to think about how you might cope emotionally if you have a complication from the surgery. As long as everything works out OK in the end, will you be glad you went ahead with the procedure?

Increase Your Physical Health

While some thin women do have breasts that are disproportionately large for their frame, many women with large breasts are above average weight. Minimizing the amount of excess fat that must be removed from your breasts is one way to make the surgery less extensive and less prone to complications. However, having a stable body weight is just as important as losing weight. Subsequent weight gain may make your breasts bigger again (although glandular tissue won’t grow back). On the other hand, losing a lot of weight later may change the shape of your breasts in unexpected and undesirable ways. Ideally, you should reach and maintain a healthy, sustainable body weight at least six months prior to surgery. If there are other steps you can take to become healthier (exercising to lower your blood pressure, stopping smoking, etc.), these are all good things to do as well.

Consult with Your Plastic Surgeon

This is one of the most critical steps in preparing for breast reduction. Your consultation is the time to discuss, in detail, exactly what you hope to achieve with the surgery. Your surgeon will be able to tell you what is realistic and explain all the risks and benefits of the procedure. Here are a few of the questions you will need to be prepared to answer:

  • What current problems are you experiencing with your breasts? (This might include back pain, problems with posture, shoulder strain, yeast infections under the breasts, etc.)
  • What are the ways you feel a breast reduction would benefit you?
  • What size of breasts do you think would be in proportion to your frame? (Your surgeon may use terminology and examples besides bra cup size to help you visualize and describe your desired outcome)
  • Are you satisfied with the position of your nipples?
  • Are you satisfied with the position, size and shape of your areolae?
  • Do you feel your breasts droop too much? (Most patients have a breast lift done as part of their reduction to correct sagging.)

During your consultation, you’ll need to disclose your medical history including:

  • Any prior surgeries
  • Any health conditions and the related treatment
  • Any prescription or OTC medications you take
  • Any herbs, vitamins, supplements or other substances you use
  • Any pregnancies and whether you plan to have more children
  • Any drug allergies

Your plastic surgeon will use this information to plan your procedure and identify any particular risks. For example, there may be some medications you should stop taking temporarily to reduce the chances of a complication during the operation. Don’t stop or start taking any medications prior to surgery unless you are instructed to do so.

Prepare for the Day of Surgery

Your surgeon will give you a list of instructions to follow for the 24 hours prior to your operation. This may include advice about:

  • Fasting from food and liquids
  • Preparing for someone to give you a ride home
  • Washing your body with anti-bacterial soap
  • Making sure not to wear cosmetics (including nail polish), lotions, perfumes or other substances
  • Dressing in or bringing soft, comfortable clothes that you’ll be able to wear after the surgery
  • Bringing only the essentials (ID, insurance card, cell phone, etc.) and leaving other personal belongings such as jewelry at home

Prepare for Breast Reduction Recovery At Home

Making sure you can get what you need when you need it is one of the most important aspects of preparing for your surgery. You won’t be able to run to the store to pick up anything you forgot. Your house should be prepared and fully stocked. Take care of cleaning the house, paying bills, filling prescriptions, preparing (or buying) food, and running errands beforehand. That way, you can simply rest during your recovery.

Prepare a comfortable location in your home with all the things you need within easy reach. This includes:

  • Cell phone or land line phone
  • Extra clothing, pillows, and blankets
  • Water, snacks, and medications
  • Entertainment (books, magazines, laptop, music player, TV remote, video games, etc.)

Remember that your ability to move your arms may be limited during your recovery. So, make sure nothing you need is on a high shelf!