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Breast Reduction Scars: Healing Tips and Care Guide

Published by Dr. Brandon Richland, MD

Breast reduction surgery offers relief for those dealing with discomfort or health issues related to having overly large breasts. However, it is essential to understand that all surgical procedures come with a certain amount of scarring. These scars are a natural part of the healing process, where incisions made during surgery close up and repair over time.

Breast reduction scarring depends on various factors, including the type of surgical incisions made, a person’s natural skin tone, and the aftercare. Plastic surgeons typically try to make incisions in less visible areas to minimize the appearance of these.

Post-surgery, several methodologies can be employed to manage and reduce the visibility of scars, such as creams, ointments, silicone sheets, massage, and laser treatments. Furthermore, maintaining a healthy lifestyle following the procedure can aid in the healing process and potentially lead to better looking results.

Key Takeaways of Breast Reduction Scars

  • Breast reduction surgery results in scarring, but the severity and visibility vary.
  • Surgical techniques and post-surgery care play crucial roles in scar management.
  • Good post-operative practices and a healthy lifestyle can improve scar healing.

Understanding Breast Reduction Scars

Breast reduction surgical procedure is sought by individuals looking to relieve discomfort or achieve a desired breast size. An important aspect of this procedure that one should be informed about is the presence of breast reduction scars. These scars are a natural part of the healing process as the skin repairs itself where the incisions were made.

Each individual’s skin type and body will respond differently to scarring, but with proper care and time, scars can become less noticeable.

Image Credit: Lightfieldstudios / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Types of Surgical Incisions

When someone undergoes a breast reduction, the surgeon will use specific types of incisions to remove tissue and reshape the breast area. There are a few common surgical incision patterns:

  • Periareolar Incision: This involves a circular cut made around the areola. It’s often used for patients who require a minimal reduction in breast tissue.
  • Vertical (Lollipop) Procedure: This type combines the periareolar incision with a vertical incision down to the breast crease. It’s suited for moderate reductions and gives the surgeon more access to the breast tissue while allowing for better contouring.
  • Inverted (Anchor) Procedure: The most comprehensive of the three, the anchor incision involves three distinct cuts: around the areola, vertically down to the breast crease, and horizontally along the crease. This approach is used for significant reductions and offers the most reshaping potential.

Each incision type has its benefits and suitability depending on the individual’s breast size, shape, and reduction goals. It is essential to consult with a surgeon to determine which method would achieve the best outcome with the least visible scarring.

The Healing Process

After breast reduction surgery, patients will embark on a journey of recovery during which the healing process plays a crucial role.

Initially, the skin around the incision sites will start healing, which typically involves some degree of scarring. Scars form as a result of the body’s natural response to heal the cut tissue. The healing process involves the formation of new skin tissue that fills in the incisions made during surgery.

It’s normal to experience some itch and pain post-surgery. These symptoms should gradually decrease as healing progresses. Keeping a close eye on the healing incisions is important. The types of techniques used can influence the extent of scarring and therefore the appearance of the scars over time.

Long-term scarring can also depend on individual factors including genetics, skin type, and adherence to postoperative care instructions. The body’s capacity to heal is impressive, and with patience and proper care, the skin will undergo substantial healing post-surgery.

Effective Scar Management

After a breast reduction procedure, patients often seek ways to manage and improve the appearance of their scars. Breast reduction scar treatment is an essential post-surgical step to ensure the best possible aesthetic result. The body’s natural response to surgical incisions is the creation of scar tissue, which can be made less conspicuous with proper care.

Silicone-based products are commonly recommended by healthcare providers. Silicone sheets and silicone gels create a protective barrier, which may help reduce scar size and redness. They are applied directly to the healing tissue and often used for several months following the surgery for optimal results.

Massage is another method to manage scars effectively. Gentle but firm massage to the scarred area can improve texture and promote flexibility. This should only be done when the surgeon advises that the incisions have healed sufficiently.

Minimizing Scar Appearance

After breast reduction surgery, patients often seek ways to reduce the visibility of scars. It’s essential to understand that while scars cannot be completely eliminated, their appearance can be minimized.

Silicone Treatments: Silicone-based products are widely recommended for scar management.

Post-Surgical Care: Following the surgeon’s post-operative instructions diligently helps improve scar appearance.

Scar Massage: Regularly massaging, flatten raised scars and improve the shape and flexibility of the scar tissue.

Medical Treatments: In cases where scars become problematic, such as hypertrophic or keloid scars, medical intervention might be necessary.

Natural Healing: Patients are encouraged to allow their body to heal naturally. Adequate nutrition and hydration support skin repair and limit scar severity.

Avoiding Tension Ensuring minimal tension on the healing wounds can prevent raised scars, influencing their final appearance.

Remember, the journey of scar healing takes patience, and the results will improve over time.

Image Credit: Lightfieldstudios / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Lifestyle and Scars after Breast Reduction

After a breast reduction, patients typically navigate a recovery period that is pivotal for wound healing and scar formation. Proper care of the surgical sites is crucial in this phase.

They should follow post-operative instructions closely, which usually involve:

  • Keeping the incision area clean and dry
  • Applying prescribed ointments or creams
  • Wearing supportive garments as directed

Sun exposure can negatively affect scar healing. It is advised that patients:

  • Avoid direct sunlight on the scars for at least one year
  • Use a high-SPF sunscreen if exposure is unavoidable

Smoking has a well-documented impact on recovery and scar healing. It impairs blood flow and can lead to poorer healing outcomes. Therefore, patients are strongly urged to quit smoking before the procedure and throughout the recovery process.

Scar management is a long-term commitment. Massage techniques can help soften and flatten scars over time and are often recommended a few weeks after surgery. Products such as silicon gel can also help scars fade.

With these considerations in place, patients can contribute significantly to the reduction of scarring post-surgery and help ensure a smoother recovery.

Post-Surgery Care and Instructions

After breast reduction surgery, it’s crucial for patients to follow a set of care instructions to ensure proper healing and minimize scarring. Here are some guidelines to consider during the recovery period:

Wound Care:

  • Keep the incisions clean to prevent infection, using the cleaning method prescribed by the surgeon.
  • Initially, the surgeon will cover the incision sites with bandages or dressings.
  • After a few days, and as advised by the surgeon, patients may need to replace the dressings or surgical tape.

Swelling Management:

  • To help reduce swelling, it’s essential to wear a supportive bra 24 hours a day for the duration specified by the surgeon.
  • Patients should also sleep with their torso raised to decrease swelling.


  • Strenuous activities should be avoided during the early recovery phase.
  • One should gradually reintroduce light activities as recommended by their healthcare provider.


  • Attend all follow-up appointments with the surgeon to monitor healing progress.
  • Keep the surgeon informed of any concerns, such as unexpected changes in the surgical area.

By adhering to these post-surgery care instructions, patients can aid their healing process and achieve the best possible outcome for their breast reduction scars. Further advice and tailored instructions will be provided by the healthcare team based on an individual’s specific circumstance.

Remember, the key to a smooth recovery involves following the surgeon’s instructions, maintaining proper wound care, and allowing time for the body to properly heal.

Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Reduction Scars

1. Are Breast Reduction Scars Permanent?

Yes, breast reduction scars are indeed permanent, but their appearance can change over time. After the surgery, scars typically go through various stages of healing and maturation, which can take up to a year or more. Over time, they generally become flatter, softer, and lighter in color, making them less visible.

2. How Do Breast Reduction Scars Change Over Time?

Breast reduction scars typically go through a maturation process, starting as red and raised and gradually becoming flatter and lighter in color. This evolution of scars can extend over a period of one to two years post-surgery.

3. What Should I Expect My Breast Reduction Scars to Look Like Once They Are Healed?

Once healed, scars should appear as thin, flat lines that are paler than the surrounding skin. They could be more noticeable on some skin tones and less on others, but the aim is for them to be as unobtrusive as possible.

4. Are There Differences in Scarring on Different Skin Types After Breast Reduction Surgery?

Yes, scarring can vary widely between individuals, with factors like skin type, color, and personal healing characteristics influencing scar development. Individuals with darker skin may have a higher risk of hypertrophic scars or keloids.

5. Is It Possible for Breast Reduction Scars to Fade Completely?

While it is uncommon for breast reduction scars to disappear completely, they can become significantly less noticeable with proper care and time. Some individuals may have scars that fade to a point where they are hardly visible.

Image Credit: Helenbr / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Conclusion and Summary of Breast Reduction Scars: Healing Tips and Care Guide

Breast reduction surgery is a transformative procedure that, while beneficial, inevitably results in scarring. These scars are the natural outcome of the body’s healing process and, with meticulous care and time, can become less noticeable.

Patients are encouraged to follow their surgeon’s post-operative instructions closely, utilizing treatments like silicone sheets, scar massage, and, if necessary, medical interventions to manage and minimize breast reduction scars. A healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition, hydration, and refraining from smoking, plays a vital role in supporting the healing process and improving overall outcomes.

The emotional journey following breast reduction is as significant as the physical healing. Patience and self-compassion are key as patients adjust to changes in their body and the gradual maturation of scars. Over time, the physical benefits of reduced discomfort and enhanced body image often outweigh concerns about scarring.

Ultimately, the decision to undergo breast reduction surgery is a deeply personal one, with scars being a small trade-off for the considerable improvements in quality of life. With the right care, the appearance of scars will improve, and patients can enjoy the full extent of their surgery’s positive effects.

Please note that this article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before making any changes to your treatments, please consult with your healthcare provider to discuss the appropriateness and safety of such changes.

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About the Author

Dr. Brandon Richland, MD is a respected Board Certified Licensed Plastic Surgeon in Orange County / Southern California specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries.

Driven by his passion for medicine, Dr. Richland obtained his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from the prestigious program at Saint Louis University (SLU) School of Medicine in 2013. His exceptional skills were recognized when he received the McGraw Hill / Lange Medical Student Academic Achievement Award, and graduated top of his class with Honors. For his undergraduate degree, he attended University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and graduated with Honors in 2009.

To further enhance his surgical expertise, Dr. Richland completed his Residency in Plastic Surgery at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) from 2013 to 2019 earning the Academic Achievement Award twice during this period. A total of 14 years in dedicated schooling and medical residency.

Dr. Richland is actively involved with healthcare and medical societies, as a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, and the California Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Contact Dr. Richland today by visiting RichlandMD.com, scheduling a cosmetic consultation, or by calling 714-241-0646 or 949-945-0025 directly.