Breast Reduction Recovery

Personalized details about how to navigate your breast reduction recovery will be discussed with you in detail prior to your surgery. During the recovery process, your breast reduction surgeon will be in close contact with you to ensure you remain comfortable and are healing well. Dr. Neil Zemmel puts a high value on this communication, as it allows patients to rest easy and focus on their recovery. Learn what you can expect during the recovery period after breast reduction surgery by visiting the sections below. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Breast Reduction?

The recovery after breast reduction can take about two to six weeks, depending on the details of your surgery. This process occurs over multiple stages, as you gradually feel more like yourself and can resume your normal activities.

Dr. Neil Zemmel is very thorough in helping patients understand what to expect during the recovery from reduction surgery, and he is available to answer any questions that may arise throughout the healing process.

What Is the Recovery Timeline from Breast Reduction Surgery?

Dr. Neil Zemmel is very thorough in helping patients understand what to expect during the recovery from reduction surgery, and he is available to answer any questions that may arise throughout the healing process.

1 to 3 Days After Surgery

Immediately after your breast reduction procedure, you will mostly likely be admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay, so our nurses and doctor can maintain close observation over your recovery. Any post-operative pain is typically well-tolerated with intravenous medicines, and should you need it, additional medication can be provided to help with nausea. The following morning, members of the surgical team will meet with you to change your bandages. Once you are ready, you will be discharged to go home.

recoveryThough resting is essential throughout the course of your recovery from breast reduction, you will also need to frequently move around to facilitate healing. After about two or three days post-surgery, you can begin to perform light daily activities, including showering.

1 to 2 Weeks After Surgery

During your first week after surgery, you will have more post-operative care instructions to follow, such as getting more rest and avoiding driving. You can expect your breasts to feel tight and swollen for about one week – many women compare this feeling to when their bodies start producing milk for breastfeeding. Throughout this time, you should not have too many issues moving around.

After this first week, patients tend to have less discomfort and should incorporate more activity into their day, though strenuous activities should still be avoided. By the second week, you should feel even more like yourself, and soreness should begin to resolve. The majority of patients take anywhere from 10-14 days off from work so they can relax and focus on recovery.

3 to 4 Weeks After Surgery

Most activities can be resumed by this point. As the swelling continues to go down and your body heals, you can begin to notice your beautiful breast reduction results taking shape.

By the three- to four-week mark, your swelling should be significantly reduced, and most activities can typically be resumed. At this point, your final breast reduction results should become more apparent.

4 to 6 Weeks After Surgery

After your fourth week of recovery, you will most likely be able to resume all exercise. While most of the breast reduction recovery happens over these first four to six weeks, keep in mind that residual swelling can last for about three to four months. Your breast reduction scars can take about six months to a year to fully heal, during which time they will gradually lighten in color and flatten.

Breast Reduction Recovery Tips

As you recover from your breast reduction, it is important that you follow your surgeon’s post-operative care instructions as closely as possible. This not only ensures you obtain optimal results, but also reduces the risk for potential complications as your body heals. In addition, by following the tips below, you can expect a smoother, more comfortable recovery.

How Do I Clean My Breast Reduction Wounds?

Keeping your incisions clean after breast reduction surgery is important for your healing and final results. You will be instructed to gently clean your incisions with mild soap and keep the area dry. No lotions or creams should be used, as this can cause inflammation. To help reduce your risk of infection, you may be prescribed antibiotics.

How Do I Shower After Breast Reduction Surgery?

Patients can typically resume showering after two to three days. Before this period, you can take a sponge bath but should avoid washing your incisions, as well as washing your hair since this can put stress on your incisions as the skin is pulled. When you are ready to shower, your surgical bra can be removed, but it should be worn the rest of the time. When you shower, you can gently wash your breasts and incision sites, unless you are instructed otherwise by Dr. Zemmel.

During your first few showers, you may feel slightly lightheaded, so it can be helpful to have someone help you or to have a shower stool available for sitting. When drying off after your shower, make sure not to rub your incisions, but to instead pat dry and let them air dry the rest of the way. You should avoid soaking in baths, hot tubs, and pools for at least two weeks, as these can expose your wounds to bacteria and increase your risk of infection.

What Bra Should I Wear After Breast Reduction Surgery?

After your breast reduction surgery, you will need to wear a surgical bra or compression garment for approximately six weeks. As noted above, this can be removed while showering, but it should be worn the rest of the day and night. Once this six-week period is over, you can wear regular bras again, as long as they do not have an underwire. Underwire bras can be worn after about three months. This is because the skin under your breast can be irritated by the underwire as you are in your initial recovery.

How Should I Sleep After Breast Reduction Surgery?

You should keep your torso elevated when you sleep after breast reduction surgery to reduce the amount of pressure around the breasts. This position can be uncomfortable, though, so Dr. Zemmel may prescribe medication to help you sleep. To ensure you stay in this position throughout the night, it can help to put a cushion under your knees and by your sides.

How Can I Reduce Swelling After My Breast Reduction?

Swelling is a normal part of the recovery after breast reduction surgery, which is an inflammatory reaction from your body due to injury. To help control the swelling that occurs, you should wear compression garments at the beginning of your recovery, which help support your breasts. Light activity and elevating your upper body while you sleep can also help facilitate healing. You should stay hydrated and follow a low-sodium diet, as well. Most swelling subsides within three to four weeks after surgery, but minor swelling can last up four months. Should you have severe swelling, please contact Dr. Zemmel as this may indicate a problem has occurred, such as infection.

When Can I Drive After Breast Reduction Surgery?

Most patients feel comfortable enough to drive after about one week from their breast reduction procedure. At this point the act of driving a vehicle and wearing a seatbelt across the chest is more comfortable. That said, you should avoid driving altogether until you have finished taking prescription pain medications.

How Soon Can I Exercise After Breast Reduction Surgery?

Rigorous exercise that engages the pectoral muscles should be avoided for at least four weeks. Walking, doing lower body exercises, and performing light non-impact aerobics may all be safe for you to do, but you should avoid using heavy weights and doing vigorous cardio for four to six weeks. By exercising too hard too fast, you can cause your incisions to separate or bleed, which can increase the risk of scarring. Once you are cleared to exercise, you should wear a quality sports bra.

How Much Time Will I Need off Work for My Breast Reduction?

Most patients with an office-based job take 10-14 days off from work to recover from their breast reduction surgery. This allows them enough time to focus on relaxing, managing any discomfort, and reducing post-operative swelling. After these first couple weeks, you should be able to drive yourself to work and feel more comfortable completing day-to-day tasks. If your job requires more strenuous activities, such as lifting heavy objects, you may need to take additional time off to allow for adequate healing time.

How Soon After Breast Reduction Surgery Can I Get Pregnant?

Although it is typically recommended for patients to wait to get cosmetic breast surgery until after completing their family, Dr. Zemmel understands that procedures like breast reduction surgery can significantly improve a woman’s quality of life before they consider having children. Should you wish to conceive after reduction surgery, he recommends waiting at least three months post-surgery before trying to get pregnant. This allows internal and external sutures to properly heal and reduces the risk of potential complications.

If you are considering future pregnancies around the time of your breast reduction consultation, you should explain this to your plastic surgeon, so they can provide you with realistic expectations of how this may affect your long-term breast reduction results. This initial communication also ensures they can customize your surgical plan to minimize any contact with the nerves and milk ducts.

Schedule Your Consultation

For more information about what to expect after breast reduction, contact us today to schedule your consultation.