Breast Reduction Scars

Breast reduction scars are common after breast reduction surgery. Your surgeon will take care to hide incision lines during your procedure. Treatment options could include creams or ointments, injections and massages.

What are breast reduction scars?

Breast reduction scars are visible marks of your body’s healing process after breast reduction surgery. Scars develop after a surgeon makes an incision in your skin, and then closes up the incision to let your body create scar tissue. Scar tissue is new skin tissue that fills the gap caused by the incision. Most scars from breast reduction surgery are thin lines that vary in color from your natural skin tone.

What do breast reduction scars look and feel like?

Breast reduction scars vary in shape and size but usually look like a line that’s a lighter or darker shade than your natural skin tone. Scars can also be pink, red, purple, gray or dark brown. Some people are more at risk of developing raised scars. Scars can itch or feel tender after your surgery.

What are the different types of breast reduction scars?

The type of breast reduction scar you have varies based on the type of incision that your surgeon makes during breast reduction surgery. There are two main types of incisions to complete a breast reduction procedure:

  • Vertical (lollipop) procedure: For a vertical or lollipop surgery, a surgeon will make two incisions — one around your areola (the darker circle surrounding your nipple) and one running vertically from the bottom of your areola to the crease of the bottom of your breast.
  • Inverted (anchor) procedure: For an inverted or anchor breast reduction surgery, a surgeon will make three incisions: One around the edge of your areola, one from the bottom of your areola to the crease in your breast and one along your breast crease.

Your surgeon will use caution during your procedure to minimize the appearance of scars, but they can’t prevent all scars.

What are the complications of breast reduction scars?

There are two types of complications that cause raised scars after breast reduction surgery:

  • Keloid scars are raised scars that grow larger than your incision site. They develop slowly over months to years. This type of scar doesn’t fade over time. These scars are more common if you have a darker skin tone due to your genetic code.
  • Hypertrophic scars are raised scars that appear one to two months after surgery. Unlike keloid scars, these scars won’t extend beyond the incision site. Hypertrophic scars fade over time.

How do I know what type of breast reduction scars I will have?

The size and pattern of your breast reduction scars depend on the technique your surgeon uses. Your provider will recommend the technique that’s right for you based on your:

  • Specific breast procedure.
  • Breast size and breast anatomy.
  • Breast shape and symmetry (whether one breast is larger or smaller than the other).
  • Desired outcome of the procedure.

Do breast reduction scars look different or change over time?

Yes, breast reduction scars change with time as your body heals after surgery. Most scars fade or blend in with your natural skin tone and you can cover them with clothing. Your breast reduction scars may change:

  • After six weeks: You’ll likely have a bandage on your scar for several weeks to protect your surgical site, so you may not notice how your skin is healing. When you remove your bandages as directed, your scar may have a red tone to it (usually red to purple). That area of your skin may be slightly elevated from the skin around it.
  • After six months: Your scar tissue is still new, so your scar will stand out on your skin. You won’t need a bandage over your surgical site, as your skin has healed over the incision site, but your scar may look lighter or darker than your natural skin tone. Red tones may still be present but they’re not as vibrant. You may have some elevation over your incision site or your scar will be flat against your skin.
  • After one year: This is the remodeling stage of healing. Your scar will start to blend in with your natural skin tone. It may still stand out on your skin for several months to years. Your scar looks lighter or darker than your natural skin tone but is close in shade.

Procedure Details

How do I reduce the appearance of breast reduction scars?

The best way to minimize breast reduction scars is to follow your provider’s post-surgical instructions. Talk to your provider about what you can do during the healing process to make scars less noticeable. You may need to wait until the scars are healed to do certain treatments. Your provider may recommend:

  • Creams or ointments: An ointment that contains silicone can make a scar less noticeable. These also come in the form of a silicone gel sheet that you place on your skin. Talk to your provider before using any cream, ointment or oil, including vitamin E oil. Although many people believe vitamin E oil reduces the appearance of scars, there’s not enough evidence to prove that it’s effective.
  • Cryosurgery (cryotherapy): Healthcare providers use a special tool to freeze scar tissue. Cryotherapy treatment destroys scar tissue and leaves a smaller, less noticeable scar.
  • Injections: If you develop keloid scars following surgery, corticosteroid injections can reduce their size.
  • Laser treatments: Ask your provider about laser skin resurfacing, which can make scars less noticeable by removing layers of skin.
  • Massage: A scar massage can promote healing and reduce itching. Your provider will show you how to carefully massage the scar using lotion or cream. Don’t start massaging the scars until your surgeon says it’s safe (usually a few weeks after surgery).

How do I care for my breast reduction scars?

Caring for breast reduction scars begins with caring for your incisions as they heal. Follow your provider’s instructions carefully after surgery. You should wear a surgical bra or bandages, and keep the area clean. Tell your provider right away if you notice any problems like pain or swelling. Be careful to avoid:

  • Scratching: Scars can itch while your skin is healing. But scratching or scrubbing them can interfere with your body’s healing process and make scars more noticeable.
  • Smoking: Talk to your provider about quitting smoking before surgery. Smoking can make it more difficult for your body to heal and can make scarring worse.
  • Sun exposure: Always wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher or cover your scars with clothing. Scars can darken with repeated sun exposure, which also increases your risk of developing skin cancer.

Is there a procedure to remove breast reduction scars?

If you’re unhappy with breast reduction scars following surgery, talk to your provider. There are several surgical procedures that can reduce the appearance of a scar, but they’re not for everyone. Keep in mind that no matter what type of procedure you have, breast reduction scars never fully go away.

Risks / Benefits

What are the potential benefits of treating breast reduction scars?

The main benefit of treating breast reduction scars is to minimize their appearance on your skin. This can make you feel more confident about your appearance.

Does treatment to remove breast reduction scars work?

There isn’t one type of treatment that works to minimize the appearance of everyone’s scar after breast reduction surgery. Each person should work with their dermatologist or healthcare provider to find a treatment option that’s right for their skin. It may take several different types of treatment to find one that works for you.

What are the risks or complications of treating breast reduction scars?

Each type of treatment for breast reduction scars comes with potential risks. Some of the most common complications of treatment to reduce the appearance of breast reduction scars include:

  • Skin discoloration.
  • Scar regrowth.
  • Itching.
  • Peeling skin.
  • Injection site pain.
  • Numbness.
  • Before you begin treatment, discuss the risks and complications with your healthcare provider.

Recovery and Outlook

Are breast reduction scars permanent?

Breast reduction scars don’t completely disappear. They may change in size and blend in with your natural skin tone over time. While your scar won’t go away completely, it can fade enough to where you don’t even notice it on your skin. Surgeons will hide incisions to minimize the appearance of scars. If you do have scars, you can hide them underneath clothing, even a bikini

breast reduction scars