When your breasts are large and heavy, numerous resulting symptoms may cause problems in your daily life.
From backaches and headaches to chafed skin and uncomfortable clothing, for many patients who struggle with these issues, breast reduction surgery can be transformative (see the amazing results for yourself). The procedure provides a reliable solution to pain, discomfort, anxiety, and other challenges.
Still, the solution does require surgery. And not everyone is comfortable with that.
In fact, one of the first questions patients ask when discussing breast reduction is, “Does recovery hurt?”
In general, breast reduction recovery is comparable to other breast surgeries. You will be swollen, slightly bruised, stiff, and in some slight pain and discomfort — especially for the first few days. After that, you should start seeing daily improvements.
When Can I Return to My Regular Routine?
Most patients can return to work after two or three weeks and can resume light exercise in the following weeks. During recovery, it’s important to follow your plastic surgeon’s instructions. Do not lift heavy objects — especially over your head. Avoid any exerting activities. Do not soak or submerge yourself in a bath or hot tub. And sleep according to your surgeon’s directions.
If you have concerns about the recovery period, we highly recommend searching breast reduction recovery week by week pictures. Although every patient will have a different experience, getting a clear idea of what you can expect in terms of healing and scars can help you envision the recovery period and become more comfortable with it.
7 Common Questions About Breast Reduction Recovery
1. Is breast reduction recovery painful?
Nearly all invasive surgeries that require incisions are going to be accompanied by some discomfort and pain. Breast reduction surgery is no exception. Most patients feel sore for about two to three weeks following surgery, and the worst days of pain are generally directly after your procedure.
When pain is acute, your plastic surgeon can prescribe pain medication to improve your discomfort. You’ll also want to get plenty of rest throughout your recovery. You may feel more sluggish than usual, so a few extra hours of sleep each day and a low stress environment is ideal.
2. What can I expect from breast reduction recovery week by week?
As each week of your recovery passes, you should experience less swelling and bruising, increased mobility, and improved overall comfort. Here is a brief breakdown:
- Right After Surgery: You should be able to go home on the same day as your surgery. Your surgeon will put you into a compression garment, and you may have drainage tubes. You should expect swelling, discomfort, bruising, and fatigue.
- Weeks 1-2: Plan on staying home from work for at least one week. Most patients take off two to four weeks. Avoid strenuous activity, heavy lifting, and stretching and raising your arms. Side effects such as bruising and swelling should begin to subside. Drainage tubes will be removed.
- Weeks 3-6: Every day, you should feel better. You should be cleared to start exercising (slow at first), and your results will start to become obvious. Rarely, patients may experience varied sensations in the breast and nipple area. Numbness sometimes occurs. This should go away with time.
- Two Months and Beyond: For some patients, it can take up to six months or even a year for all swelling to disappear so that you can enjoy your full results.
3. When can I lift my arms after breast reduction?
As with most time-restricted activities following surgery, this depends upon the patient. For all patients, lifting anything heavy must be avoided. Many parents are shocked to find out that they won’t be able to lift their small children for several weeks after surgery. Generally speaking, we advise you to avoid lifting anything more than 10 pounds — which includes most infants and children.
You’ll especially want to avoid lifting anything over your head. This puts strain on your incisions, which may cause them to bleed and open up. Moreover, wounds that have been stretched and tensed tend to heal more noticeably. You’ll be more likely to have obvious scars if you are stretching, lifting, and reaching with your arms too soon after surgery.
4. What can I do 4 weeks after breast reduction?
By the four-week mark, your incisions should be healed, and any dissolvable stitches should be gone. You’ll be allowed to move around more, and maybe even incorporate some light exercise into your routine. Some patients will be able to start taking a bath at this point as well. If not at the four-week mark, very soon after this point, you will also be able to start wearing underwear bras if you desire.
5. How long is bed rest after breast reduction?
After breast reduction surgery, you’ll probably feel like staying in bed or on the couch for the first few days. However, do keep in mind that you’ll be able to get up and walk around almost immediately after the procedure. In fact, we encourage frequent ambulation (movement) after surgery.
Once you’re feeling a little better after one to two weeks, you can begin to incorporate more activities into your life, including staying on your feet for longer periods. However, specific advice pertaining to bed rest should be discussed with your surgeon directly.
6. How long does it take for breasts to drop after reduction?
Your breasts will not actually “drop” after breast reduction surgery. Rather, they will “settle” into position. This roughly means that the swelling will dissipate and the inflammation will disappear so that your breasts resume a neutral, natural-looking position. The process will take about three to four months for most individuals, but be patient. Not all women heal at the same rate.
7. Will I have scars after breast reduction?
Yes, scars are part and parcel of breast reduction surgery. All patients will have at least some scarring around their areolae, and most patients will have additional scarring on the bottom half of their breasts.
Quality self-care after surgery as well as avoiding lifting anything heavy or exerting yourself too quickly will all help to lessen the appearance of your scars. Naturally, over time, breast reduction scars tend to flatten and turn a silvery-white color.
Breast Reduction Results
You’ll notice results from your surgery right away after the procedure. However, it will take several months for all swelling to disappear. In the meantime, you may be discouraged by their shape and size, but don’t be too concerned. After three to four months, your breasts should be healed and settled into their desired position and shape.
One of the best things about breast reduction surgery is that your results will be long-lasting. It is rare for the remaining breast tissue to grow uncomfortably large again after surgery. With that said, you will maintain optimal results if you stay at roughly the same body weight as time goes on.
Patients who lose a significant amount of weight after breast reduction surgery may find that they struggle with a different problem: the loss of fatty tissue and skin elasticity. This can result in breasts that appear deflated and saggy. If this happens, a breast lift may be recommended to draw up the breasts and reposition the nipples and areolae.
Arrange a Breast Reduction Consultation with Dr. Lahar
Dr. Nicholas Lahar has been performing breast reduction surgery for many years and is deeply familiar with the procedure. At your consultation appointment, Dr. Lahar will evaluate you for surgery and describe what will happen in detail. You should feel free to ask any questions or concerns you may have.
We look forward to helping you decide if breast reduction is right for you. Contact us today to schedule your consultation appointment.