Breast Reduction Surgery (Reduction Mammoplasty): Techniques and Approaches

By Dr Jake Lim – Plastic Surgeon | Updated: April 12, 2024

Different Techniques and Approaches in Breast Reduction Surgery (Reduction Mammoplasty)

Breast reduction surgery (reduction mammoplasty) offers a change for those who experience discomfort or limitations due to the size of their breasts. This procedure, tailored to individual needs, can provide an option for greater comfort and ease in daily activities. Sydney Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr Jake Lim explores the various techniques and approaches available for breast reduction surgery.

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Reduction Mammoplasty Guide

Breast Reduction (Reduction Mammoplasty) Techniques Explained

There are several techniques available, each with its own set of advantages and considerations. Understanding the differences can help you and Dr Lim decide on the best approach for your specific needs:

  • Traditional Reduction Mammoplasty: This technique involves making incisions around the areola, down each breast and across the breast width in the shape of an anchor, removing excess tissue, fat, and skin to reduce the size of the bust. It’s often recommended for those with significantly larger breasts seeking a considerable reduction
  • Vertical Incision Breast Reduction (Reduction Mammoplasty): Also known as the “lollipop” technique, this method requires fewer incisions, resulting in less scarring. It’s suitable for moderate reductions and offers a good balance between the amount of tissue removed and the extent of scarring
  • Liposuction-Only Breast Reduction (Reduction Mammoplasty): In cases where fatty tissue predominantly comprises the breast, liposuction alone might be used to reduce the size. This method is less invasive, with minimal scarring, but it might not be suitable for everyone, especially if there’s a need to remove glandular tissue or skin

Each technique has its own set of benefits, and the choice largely depends on your anatomical needs, the amount of reduction desired, and personal preferences regarding scars and recovery.

  • The traditional method, while more invasive, provides the most significant reshaping and reduction, making it a popular choice for those with larger breasts and more considerable discomfort
  • The vertical incision method is a middle ground, offering a moderate reduction with less scarring than the traditional approach
  • Liposuction is the least invasive, with the quickest recovery time, but it’s important to have realistic expectations about the results it can achieve

Selecting the right technique involves a thorough discussion with Dr Lim, who can advise on the best approach based on your body’s unique needs and the goals you wish to achieve.

  • Consideration of your lifestyle, recovery time, and how each method aligns with your expectations is key
  • It’s also essential to discuss the potential for scarring with each technique and how it might affect your satisfaction with the results
  • Understanding the limitations and potential outcomes of each method will help ensure you’re making an informed decision that aligns with your desires

The Traditional Breast Reduction (Reduction Mammoplasty) Approach

The traditional breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty) approach, often referred to as the anchor or inverted-T reduction, is one of the most commonly used methods. It’s designed for individuals who require a significant reduction in breast size and involves detailed reshaping of the breast. Here’s an in-depth look at this method:

  • The procedure gets its name from the shape of the incision, which resembles an anchor, circling the areola, extending downwards, and following the natural curve under the breast. This allows for the removal of a considerable amount of tissue, fat, and skin
  • It’s particularly beneficial for those who experience a substantial amount of discomfort from their larger breasts, including physical strain or difficulty engaging in certain activities

This approach is favoured for its ability to provide a considerable change in breast size and shape, offering relief from the physical burdens of excessively large breasts.

  • Despite the more extensive scarring compared to other techniques, the anchor method is known for achieving more predictable and substantial results
  • It allows Dr Lim to remove excess skin and tissue effectively, resulting in a more lifted and reshaped breast profile

Candidates for this technique have larger breasts and are looking for not just a reduction in size but also an improvement in the shape and position of their breasts.

  • The surgery involves detailed pre-operative planning to ensure that the final results align with the individual’s body size and shape preferences
  • Post-surgery, individuals can expect a significant recovery period, with guidance provided on managing discomfort and ensuring optimal healing

Vertical (Short Scar) Breast Reduction (Reduction Mammoplasty)

The Vertical (Short Scar) Breast Reduction (reduction mammoplasty), commonly known as the “lollipop” technique, represents a less invasive alternative to the traditional approach, with a focus on minimising scarring. This method is particularly suited for individuals seeking a moderate reduction in breast size and an improved contour. Here’s a closer look at the lollipop technique:

  • The name ‘lollipop’ comes from the pattern of the incision: one around the areola and another extending vertically down to the breast crease, resembling a lollipop shape. This allows for the removal of excess breast tissue and skin with less extensive scarring than the traditional method
  • Ideal for those who require a moderate reduction in breast size, this technique also provides the opportunity to lift the breast, offering an enhanced shape and position

This technique is favoured by many due to its balance between achieving significant aesthetic and functional improvements and minimising recovery time and scarring.

Candidates for the Vertical Incision Breast Reduction (reduction mammoplasty) are those with a moderate amount of excess breast tissue and skin who are seeking not only a reduction but also an uplift of their breasts.

  • During the consultation, Dr Lim will evaluate if this technique can achieve the desired outcomes based on the individual’s breast size, shape, and skin elasticity
  • The procedure requires precise surgical skill to reshape the breast tissue and reposition the nipple while ensuring a natural look and feel
  • Post-operative care focuses on managing discomfort, minimising swelling, and supporting the healing process to ensure the best possible shape and appearance of the breasts
  • Individuals are advised to follow Dr Lim’s instructions closely, including wearing supportive garments and avoiding strenuous activities during the initial recovery phase

Liposuction-Only Breast Reduction (Reduction Mammoplasty)

Liposuction-only breast reduction is a less invasive option for those seeking a slight to moderate reduction in breast size, emphasising a quicker recovery period with minimal scarring. This technique is especially suited for individuals whose excess breast volume is primarily composed of fatty tissue with good skin tone and minimal sag. Here’s a detailed exploration of this method:

  • The procedure involves the removal of breast fat through small incisions, using a suction technique. Since it targets fat rather than glandular tissue or skin, it’s most effective for breasts with a larger proportion of fatty tissue
  • It’s an appealing option for those aiming for a less dramatic change and who wish to avoid the more extensive scars associated with traditional or vertical reduction techniques

One of the advantages of liposuction-only breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty) is the significantly reduced recovery time compared to more invasive surgical methods.

  • You will typically experience less discomfort post-surgery and can return to daily activities and work much quicker, often within a few days
  • The minimal scarring also means that the aesthetic changes are subtle, with the incisions often being barely noticeable once healed

However, it’s important for candidates to have realistic expectations about the outcomes of liposuction-only breast reduction.

  • The procedure is limited in its ability to remove glandular tissue or tighten skin, which means it may not be suitable for individuals with a significant amount of sagging or those requiring a substantial size reduction
  • The best candidates are those with good skin elasticity, as the skin must naturally contract to fit the new, smaller breast size

During the consultation phase, Dr Lim will assess the composition of the breast tissue and discuss whether liposuction alone can achieve the desired results.

  • This assessment will include an evaluation of the breast’s fatty tissue versus glandular tissue ratio, as well as the skin’s elasticity
  • You are encouraged to discuss their aesthetic goals and lifestyle preferences, ensuring the chosen method aligns with their expectations

Choosing liposuction-only breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty) involves weighing the benefits of a less invasive procedure against the limitations in terms of the extent of reduction and reshaping achievable.

  • The decision should be made after thorough discussion with Dr Lim who can provide a realistic overview of what the surgery can and cannot do
  • Understanding the procedure’s subtleties, including the potential need for further procedures in the future, is essential for making an informed choice

Scarless Breast Reduction (Reduction Mammoplasty): Facts and Myths

When exploring options for breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty), you might come across the term “scarless breast reduction,” which can be misleading. This procedure often refers to breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty) methods that minimise scarring, such as liposuction. However, it’s important to understand what is achievable and to dispel common myths associated with this concept:

  • Facts: True scarless breast reduction is somewhat of a misnomer. All surgical procedures will result in some form of scarring, but techniques like liposuction-only breast reduction can minimise visible scars. These methods are best suited for those requiring a minor reduction and who have a significant amount of fatty tissue in their breasts but has minimal or no sag of their breasts
  • Myths: The biggest myth is that one can achieve a significant breast reduction without any scars whatsoever. While advancements in surgical techniques have made it possible to reduce scarring, it’s important to have realistic expectations about the outcomes

Understanding the differences between advertised “scarless” procedures and the reality is crucial for setting realistic expectations.

  • Procedures touted as “scarless” involve very minimal incisions, often hidden in the natural creases of the body or around the areola, making them less noticeable
  • The effectiveness of these techniques varies significantly depending on individual factors such as breast size, composition, and skin elasticity

It’s also important to note that while some procedures offer less visible scarring, they might not be suitable for everyone.

  • Individuals with larger breasts or those requiring more significant reshaping may need to consider techniques that involve more extensive incisions
  • The choice of procedure should be guided by the desired outcome and the recommendations of a qualified surgeon, rather than the promise of no scarring

During consultations, Dr Lim will discuss the various options available, including those that offer reduced scarring, and help you set achievable goals.

  • A thorough evaluation of the your breast tissue, skin quality, and overall health will determine the most appropriate technique
  • Dr Lim will also provide detailed information about the expected recovery process, potential risks, and long-term care of incision sites to ensure the best possible healing

Choosing a breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty) method based on the promise of no visible scars can lead to disappointment if not fully informed of the limitations and realities of these procedures.

  • It’s essential for individuals to engage in open and honest discussions with their plastic surgeon about their expectations and the surgical options that align with their goals
  • Understanding the trade-offs between scar visibility, recovery time, and the extent of reduction can help in making an informed decision that meets the individual’s needs and lifestyle

The concept of scarless breast reduction offers hope for minimal scarring, but it’s important to approach this option with a clear understanding of what is realistically achievable. By dispelling myths and focusing on factual information, individuals can make choices that lead to satisfaction with their surgical outcomes.

FAQs about Breast Reduction (Reduction Mammoplasty) Surgery Techniques


How do I know which breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty) technique is right for me?

The best technique for your breast reduction surgery depends on several factors, including:

  • The size and shape of your breasts
  • The amount of reduction desired
  • The composition of your breasts (fat vs. glandular tissue)
  • Your skin quality and elasticity
  • Your personal preferences regarding scars

A thorough consultation with Dr Lim is essential to determine the most appropriate technique based on your specific needs and goals.

What is the recovery time for breast reduction surgery (reduction mammoplasty)?

Recovery time can vary depending on the technique used and the individual’s healing process. Generally:

  • Traditional and Vertical Scar Reduction: You can return to work and light activities within 2 weeks, but should avoid strenuous activities for 4-6 weeks.
  • Liposuction-Only Breast Reduction: Recovery is often quicker, with you resuming normal activities within a few days to a week. However, swelling and sensitivity may last for a few weeks.

Will breast reduction surgery (reduction mammoplasty) leave scars?

Yes, all breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty) techniques will leave some form of scars. The extent and visibility of the scars depend on the surgical technique used:

  • Traditional Technique: Leaves an anchor-shaped scar around the areola, vertically down, and along the breast crease.
  • Vertical Scar Reduction: Results in a lollipop-shaped scar around the areola and vertically down to the breast crease.
  • Liposuction-Only: Leaves minimal scarring, with small incision marks that are often less noticeable.

Dr Lim strive to place incisions in less visible areas, and scars can fade over time but will not disappear completely.

Further Reading about Brest Reduction Surgery (Reduction Mammoplasty) with Sydney Plastic Surgeon Dr Jake Lim

Medical References about Brest Reduction (Reduction Mammoplasty) Surgery Technique

About Dr Jake Lim

Highly qualified and experienced specialist plastic surgeon Dr Jake Lim focuses on facial plastic, cosmetic breast and body contouring after significant weight loss

Dr Lim creates the best possible plastic surgery results for his Australia-wide and international patients.

Dr Lim is passionate about making sure each and every patient has access to the right information about available treatments and procedures and is able to make well-informed decisions.

At My Klinik, patient safety, education and achieving optimal results are our top priorities.