Breast Reduction Recovery: What to Expect After Surgery

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Deciding to undergo breast reduction surgery is a liberating moment. But what is breast reduction recovery like? And what is the average recovery time for breast reduction? You need to understand this before starting your journey.

Recovery time is unique for each individual. So, it’s difficult to know exactly how long it’ll take you to recover. In general, after surgery, you will probably feel weak and can expect a full recovery after breast reduction to take 6 to 8 weeks.  After this period, you can resume normal activities. For the first three to four weeks, you should avoid lifting anything over your head. And, depending on your job, you’ll need to take at least one week off work.

Breast Reduction Recovery Stages

Recovering from surgery often goes in stages. Initially, you may be sore for the first 2-3 weeks following your surgery. This may present as a stretching or pulling sensation in the breast area. To manage this, you’ll have pain medication prescribed to help with any discomfort.

You may also feel weak or have low energy levels for the first few weeks. This is normal and it’s important that you take this time to rest and limit your activities.

After the first few weeks, your swelling will begin to subside and your results will become more noticeable. You’ll start to notice your breasts look firmer, perkier and rounder after a couple of weeks. Remember not to judge your final results too early as you’ll still have some swelling and bruising. Your final results will be clear around 6 months after surgery.

Wearing Your Post Surgery Bra

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You’re required to wear a compression bra for (at least) six weeks after surgery. This bra promotes healing and reduces discomfort and swelling caused by surgery. The breast reduction bra also helps your breasts to settle into their new position.

When you have surgery with Dr Doyle, you’ll wake up from your procedure wearing your post-op garment. You’ll need to wear it for 23 hours a day for at least six weeks or as directed by your surgeon.

Breast Reduction Recovery Timeline

As mentioned, every individual’s recovery timeline is different. But, as a general guide, most people will experience a similar recovery. A standard breast reduction recovery week by week may look like this:

Day One

After your surgery, you’ll wake up wearing a surgical bra and two types of dressings covering your incisions. You’ll need someone to drive you home from the hospital.

Once you get home, rest as much as possible. You can use ice packs (or a bag of frozen peas) on your breasts to help decrease swelling. Do this every half-hour or as often as you can manage in the first 24 hours after surgery.

You are able to shower, although it’s advised to have someone with you, as you may feel dizzy. You’ll have a large padded dressing taped to your chest and this may be removed before your shower. There will be another dressing on top of your suture line. This will need to stay intact until your first review appointment with our nurse.

Week One

You’ll see Dr Doyle for your first post-op appointment approximately 7 days after surgery. At this appointment, our nurses will change your dressings and Dr Doyle will assess your result.

You should be able to resume light walking after the first week. Many patients can resume light work or house duties 4 to 5 days after surgery.

Week Two

At your second post-operative appointment (usually around day 10 or 11), your stitches will be removed. You can usually start showering normally after this appointment. Continue wearing your compression garment and post-operative bra.

You can expect to feel well enough to return to a desk job by two weeks after surgery.

Week Three

Approximately 3-weeks post-surgery our nurse will review your progress. Your dressing will be removed, and you’ll be given a sample of Stratamed and shown how to apply it to your wound. 

By three weeks, most patients are feeling well enough to return to daily activities. You may still have some soreness and swelling but this will continue to improve over the next few weeks.

Week Six

Approximately 6 weeks post surgery you will have your review with Dr Doyle. Here you’ll be given a sample of Strataderm for further scar care.

After six weeks you may be able to stop wearing your garment. Once your incisions have healed, you can return to wearing a normal bra. Always check first with Dr Doyle and our nurses.

After 6 weeks, you can recommence light exercise. Again, please check first with Dr Doyle and our nurses whether this is okay.

Follow your surgeon’s instructions and listen to your body to ensure a smooth recovery.

Dr Doyle’s Breast Reduction Recovery Tips

Recovery from breast reduction is different for everyone. You can prepare for your recovery period by ensuring you have a comfortable area set up where you can rest. You may want to pre-prepare healthy meals and ensure your entertainment options (Netflix, books etc) are available.

Here are some tips to help you through the recovery process:

  • Get plenty of rest – sleep when you can and take naps when you feel tired
  • Take things easy – avoid any strenuous activity or exercise
  • Keep your incisions clean and dry – this will help to prevent infection
  • Wear your compression garment and post-operative bra as directed by your surgeon
  • Eat healthy meals and drink plenty of water – this will help your body to heal
  • Follow your post-op instructions closely!
  • Get plenty of rest – sleep when you can and take naps when you feel tired
  • Take things easy – avoid any strenuous activity or exercise
  • Keep your incisions clean and dry – this will help to prevent infection
  • Wear your compression garment and post-operative bra as directed by your surgeon
  • Eat healthy meals and drink plenty of water – this will help your body to heal
  • Follow your post-op instructions closely!

Read more or Dr Doyle’s cosmetic surgery recovery tips here.

Breast Reduction Scars: Are They Avoidable?

Like any surgical procedure, you will experience breast reduction scars after surgery. But there are some ways to minimize its appearance before and after the surgery.

Different techniques will affect on the size of the incisions and the appearance of the scars respectively. Breast reduction scars after 6 months should appear light red in colour. They will continue to fade to a pale skin colour between 12 and 24 weeks after surgery.

Lollipop Technique: Shorter-Scar

This is one of the most effective techniques to reduce breast sagging and provide a long-lasting natural result. Dr Doyle prefers this technique owing to the longevity of the outcome and the natural aesthetic looks of the results.

For this procedure two incisions are made, one that encircles the areola and the other extending from the areola to the lower natural crease of the breast. It is suitable to use for someone who has moderately sagging breasts and wants a minimal-to-moderate reduction in breast size.

Anchor Technique: Larger-Scar

Anchor breast reduction technique leaves three scars, one extending from the base of the areola to the lower breast crease. A scar along the lower crease of the breast, and a scar around the areolar. This is the scarring for larger breast reductions where more tissue needs to be removed.

The technique best for you will be determined by Dr Doyle at your initial consultation. To get a better idea of the position of your scars, view Dr Doyle’s breast reduction photos.

Breast Reduction Post-Op Instructions

  • To reduce swelling, sleep with your upper body slightly raised on 1 or 2 pillows.
  • Avoid wearing an underwire bra for 3 months.
  • Start walking as soon as possible.
  • You will need at least 1 to 2 weeks to recover after surgery. Do not lift anything heavy during this time. You can resume light exercise 5 to 6 weeks after surgery.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise for 6 – 8 weeks after surgery. This includes activities such as upper body exercises.
  • No ocean water or pool water for 3-4 weeks post-surgery or until your wounds are fully healed.
  • Do not drive for the first 24 to 48 hours after you have anesthesia. For safety reasons, refrain from driving for the first week after your surgery.

When to Call the Doctor

After any surgery, it’s important to know when to call the doctor. Boob reduction surgery is no different. You should contact your surgeon if you experience any of the following:

  • Excessive bleeding or drainage from your incisions
  • A fever over 38 degrees Celcius
  • Increasing pain that is not relieved by medication
  • Redness, swelling or discharge from your incisions

If you have any concerns or questions about your breast reduction surgery, please contact Dr Doyle or our nurses. We are here to help you through every step of the process!

Reduction surgery is a big decision. You should only entrust your care to an experienced and qualified surgeon like Dr Doyle.

FAQs

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What Is the Time for Breast Reduction and Lift Recovery?

All breast reductions include a breast lift. The recovery period is approximately 6-8 weeks. The recovery period is the same whether you have a reduction or you have a breast lift.

Where Will My Breast Reduction Scars Be?

Breast reduction surgery scars are around the areola (the dark part surrounding the nipple) and down the front of the breast. Occasionally they extend under the breast crease too.

Boob reduction scars will be red and raised following surgery but will settle over time.

When Can I Resume Normal Activities After Breast Reduction Surgery?

Most patients feel well enough to return to work and light walking within two weeks after surgery. Avoid strenuous exercise for at least eight weeks.

Next Steps

If you are considering reduction mammaplasty or would like to know more about recovery, please contact Dr Doyle at Gold Coast Plastic Surgery.

About Dr Mark Doyle FRACS (Plast) – Queensland Plastic Surgeon

Servicing patients in Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Cairns and New South Wales NSW – Northern Rivers, Byron Bay, Ballina, Lismore and more.

Dr Mark Doyle is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon with over thirty years of experience performing BreastBodyFace and Nose surgery. Dr Doyle is a fully qualified Specialist Plastic Surgeon with 30+ years of experience. He has completed all required training and only carries out safe surgical practices. There are absolutely NO undertrained doctors or cosmetic doctors acting as surgeons in our clinic.

As a highly esteemed plastic surgeon, Dr Mark is driven by an intense passion for helping patients achieve a happier, more beautiful self through advanced cosmetic surgery procedures. He maintains a strong commitment to achieving the best possible results for all his breast, body, face and nose patients, both men and women.

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*DISCLAIMER: All information on Gold Coast Plastic Surgery website is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Results can vary significantly and depend on individual patient circumstances. All images on this website, unless specified as real patient images, are stock images used for illustrative purposes only. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your surgeon. Book a consult for details regarding your cosmetic surgery procedure.