Breast Reduction Recovery

If you’re considering breast reduction surgery, you’ll want to know what’s involved in recovery. As long as you’re in good health prior to surgery and follow your surgeon’s instructions for surgery prep and aftercare, your recovery should go smoothly, and you’ll be back to your normal activities within a few short weeks. Here’s what you need to know.

Quit smoking before surgery

If you smoke, you must quit a minimum of 6 weeks prior to breast reduction and stay away from nicotine for 6 weeks after. No exceptions.

Why? Your body needs optimal blood supply to heal safely and in a timely manner. Nicotine constricts blood vessels and hampers circulation. If you smoke too soon before or after surgery, your risk for infection, slow healing, and ugly scars skyrockets. Need help quitting? We’ll be happy to point you to some useful resources.

How will I feel after breast reduction surgery?

Your breasts will be bandaged after surgery. These will stay on for a day or two, when your doctor removes them and you can switch to wearing a supportive, soft bra. Keep some loose, button-down shirts on hand for the first few days; getting dressed will be much easier. For the first few days, you’ll be tired and a little uncomfortable. Pain meds will help, but most patients only need these for a few days. You’ll notice a huge difference in how much better you feel on day 4-5 compared to days 1-2. Just take it easy and follow your surgeon’s instructions.

After breast reduction, when can I…

  • Take a shower? About 7 days. You may need to wait a little longer to reach up and wash your hair to avoid straining your incisions.
  • Go back to work? 5 to 7 days for a desk job; up to 6 weeks for physical labor (although you may be able to return to modified work earlier).
  • Drive my car? Once you’re off pain meds and you can rotate your shoulders and neck comfortably.
  • Lift and carry my kids? Heavy lifting is off-limits for 4 to 6 weeks to avoid straining your incisions. Get help with childcare and give your babies a hug on their level.
  • Start exercising again? Easy walks are great as soon as you feel up to it; anything more strenuous needs to wait 4 to 6 weeks to give your incisions time to heal.
  • Buy new, smaller (prettier) bras? No underwire for 8 weeks. It’s best to wait this long anyway, when post-op swelling has subsided and you’re close to your final breast size.

How long will my results last?

Maintain a stable weight, and your smaller, lighter breasts will stay that way. That extra tissue is gone. With good scar care, your scars will fade significantly over the first year after surgery; depending on your skin tone they may end up close to invisible.

Pregnancy following breast reduction is likely to affect your breast shape. Also, nothing can prevent the normal aging process and after many years, your breasts may begin to sag again; however, with the reduced weight and improved shape, your breasts will continue to look and feel better for many, many years.

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Will I be able to breastfeed after breast reduction?

Our doctors use surgical techniques designed to help preserve the ability to breastfeed in the future. While nothing is guaranteed (some women will have trouble breastfeeding regardless of whether or not they’ve had breast surgery), the majority of our patients who wish to breastfeed after breast reduction are able to do so successfully.

More questions? Ask away at a personal consultation with our plastic surgeons