Hi everyone, I’m [name], and I’m really excited to be posting here today.
I’ve had a lot of time to think over the past few weeks, and I’ve come to realize that one of the most important things in life is being able to share your story with others. It’s hard to do sometimes, but it’s important because it lets people know that they’re not alone, and it helps them feel less alone.
So here’s my story:
I had breast augmentation surgery 5 weeks ago, and I can’t believe how much my life has changed since then. My body looks better than ever—more symmetrical, more beautiful—and it feels so good! But what’s even more amazing is that after years of feeling like I wasn’t good enough or smart enough or pretty enough (or whatever), now all those feelings are gone. It’s like finally being able to stand up straight for the first time in years—it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about how free I feel inside now!
5 weeks after breast augmentation
Breast reduction surgery removes some of the breast tissue and skin from the breasts. This reshapes and lifts the breasts and reduces their size. It can also make the dark area around the nipple smaller. After surgery, you will probably feel weak. You may feel sore for 2 to 3 weeks. You also may feel pulling or stretching in your breast area. Although you may need pain medicine for a week or two, you can expect to feel better and stronger each day.
For several weeks, you may get tired easily or have less energy than usual. You also may have the feeling that fluid is moving in your breasts. This feeling is normal and will go away over time.
Stitches usually are removed in 5 to 10 days.
Your new breasts may feel firmer and look rounder. Breast reduction may change the normal feeling in your breast. But in time, some feeling may return.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
- For about 2 weeks after surgery, avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, a vacuum cleaner, or a child. Do not lift anything over your head for 2 to 3 weeks.
- Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
- Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.
- You can take your first shower the day after your drain or bandage is removed. This is usually within about 1 week. Sometimes doctors say it is okay to shower the day after surgery. Do not take a bath or soak in a hot tub for about 4 weeks.
- You will probably be able to go back to work or your normal routine in 2 to 3 weeks. This depends on the type of work you do and any further treatment.
- You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
- Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
- You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. Take a fibre supplement. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, take a mild laxative.
- Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
- If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if and when to start taking it again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
- Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
- If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
- If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
- If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
- Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
- Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
- If you were given medicine for nausea, take it as directed.
- If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
- If your doctor gave you specific instructions on how to care for your incision, follow those instructions.
- You may be wearing a special bra that holds your bandages in place after the surgery. Your doctor will tell you when you can stop wearing the bra. Your doctor may want you to wear the bra at night as well as during the day for several weeks. Do not wear an underwire bra for 1 month.
- If you have strips of tape on your incision, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off. Or follow your doctor’s instructions for removing the tape.
- Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. Don’t use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
- You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day. Consider having someone help you with this.
- Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
- Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it is okay.
- Your doctor will tell you when to begin stretching exercises and normal activities.
- Put ice or a cold pack over your breast for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
- You may have one or more drains near your incisions. Your doctor will tell you how to take care of them. Drains are usually removed in the first week after surgery.
common problems after breast reduction surgery
What are the risks of breast reduction surgery?
The decision to have breast reduction surgery is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks of breast reduction surgery and potential complications are acceptable.
Your plastic surgeon and/or plastic surgery staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo and any risks or potential complications.
Possible breast reduction surgery risks include:
- Allergies to tape, suture materials and glues, blood products, topical preparations or injectable agents
- Anesthesia risks
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Blood clots
- Breast asymmetry
- Breast contour and shape irregularities
- Changes in nipple or breast sensation, which may be temporary or permanent
- Damage to deeper structures – such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles and lungs – can occur and may be temporary or permanent
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Excessive firmness of the breast
- Fatty tissue deep in the skin could die (fat necrosis)
- Fluid accumulation
- Pain, which may persist
- Poor wound healing
- Possibility of revisional surgery
- Potential inability to breastfeed
- Potential loss of skin/tissue of breast where incisions meet each other
- Potential, partial or total loss of nipple and areola
- Skin discoloration, permanent pigmentation changes, swelling and bruising
- Unfavorable scarring
You should know that:
- Breast reduction surgery can interfere with certain diagnostic procedures
- Breast and nipple piercing can cause an infection
- Your ability to breastfeed following reduction mammaplasty may be limited; talk to your doctor if you are planning to nurse a baby
- The breast reduction procedure can be performed at any age, but is best done when your breasts are fully developed
- Changes in the breasts during pregnancy can alter the outcomes of previous breast reduction surgery, as can significant weight fluctuations
The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single breast reduction procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
Where will my surgery be performed?
Breast reduction procedures may be performed in your plastic surgeon’s accredited office-based surgical facility, an ambulatory surgical facility or a hospital. Your plastic surgeon and the assisting staff will fully attend to your comfort and safety.
When you go home
If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains or unusual heartbeats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these breast reduction complications occur, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment.
The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
Following your physician’s instructions is key to the success of your surgery. It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, abrasion or motion during the time of healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself and minimize breast reduction surgery risks.
Be sure to ask questions: It’s very important to address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon. It is natural to feel some anxiety, whether excitement for the anticipated outcome or preoperative stress. Discuss these feelings with your plastic surgeon.
Breast Reduction Surgery
Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on August 05, 2020
IN THIS ARTICLE
- What Is Breast Reduction Surgery?
- Breast Reduction Surgery Consultation
- How to Prepare for Breast Reduction Surgery
- Breast Reduction Surgery Procedure
- Breast Reduction Surgery Recovery
- Breast Reduction Surgery Risks and Complications
- Breast Reduction Surgery Costs
What Is Breast Reduction Surgery?
Breast reduction surgery is an operation to remove extra fat, tissue, and skin from your breasts. If you have large breasts that are out of proportion to the rest of your body and causing neck pain, back pain, or other symptoms, you may be considering breast reduction surgery.
Most women who get breast reduction are very satisfied with the results. Men with conditions such as gynecomastia (in which male breasts are abnormally enlarged) may also have it.
Because it’s major surgery, you should know the benefits, potential complications, and what’s involved in recovery.
Breast Reduction Surgery Consultation
Before the surgery, you’ll meet with your surgeon to talk about your medical history, including whether you’ve had a lump removed from your breast or have any other medical conditions that affect your breasts. Your surgeon will also ask about your family’s medical history.
Be completely open with the surgeon about your medical history and why you want a breast reduction. Be prepared to discuss any emotional issues you’ve dealt with regarding your breasts, how your breasts have physically felt to you, and any physical conditions you’ve had.
The surgeon may take photos of your breasts, measure them, and talk with you about how much breast tissue will need to be removed to achieve your goal. You will also learn about preparing for the surgery and planning for your recovery. You may get a mammogram and breast exam before the surgery.
During your consultation, your surgeon will ask about your habits, including whether you smoke and what medications you take. You may have to quit smoking for a period before and after surgery to ensure proper healing. You also may have to stop taking certain medications, including aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs such as Motrin or Aleve. Your surgeon will give you instructions about what you need to do.
How to Prepare for Breast Reduction Surgery
You need to be in good physical shape to be sure you heal the way you should, so follow your surgeon’s instructions before and after breast reduction surgery.
Before the surgery, get your home ready for recovery. Have these things on hand:
- Plenty of ice
- Gauze and clean washcloths and towels
- Loose, comfortable shirts
- Special ointments or creams as recommended by your surgeon for the incision sites
You should also plan for someone to drive you home and stay with you for at least the first night after the procedure, if you’re not staying in the hospital.
Breast Reduction Surgery Procedure
Depending on your case, you might have breast reduction surgery in an outpatient facility, or you may have to stay at least one night in the hospital. In either case, you’ll get general anesthesia, which means you will be put to “sleep” during the procedure.
Breast reduction surgery will take about 2 to 5 hours, sometimes longer.
Your surgeon could use one of a few surgery methods, depending on the shape and size of your breasts, how much tissue they need to remove, and how you want to look after surgery:
- Liposuction. The surgeon will make small cuts in your skin and insert a thin tube connected to a vacuum that suctions fat and fluids from your breast. This option is best for small reductions and for people whose skin will “snap back” into place.
- Vertical or “lollipop.”This method is for moderate breast reductions and visible sagging. The surgeon will make cuts around your areola and down to the crease beneath your breast, remove extra tissue and fat, reshape the breast, and lift it.
- Inverted-T or “anchor.”The surgeon will make cuts around the edge of the areola, from the areola to the breast crease, and along the crease underneath the breast. This type of surgery is best for large reductions and for people who have a lot of sagging or unevenness.
Your surgeon may use drainage tubes and then stitch up your breasts and wrap them in a special gauze. You may also need to wear a surgical bra.
Breast Reduction Surgery Recovery
Expect to take at least a week off from work or school afterward. Some people need a couple of weeks, but each situation varies. Your surgeon will instruct you on follow-up appointments for removing bandages and stitches.
While you recover, you’ll need to stop physical activity for at least a month after surgery.
After the surgery, you should expect to feel tired and to have breast pain. Your surgeon will give you an oral painkiller to ease you through the first few days. You should also avoid heavy lifting.
Some people have an emotional reaction, such as feeling depressed, after the surgery. That can be normal, but make sure you tell your doctor about all your concerns.
Breast Reduction Surgery Risks and Complications
Scars are a normal side effect of breast reduction surgery. These scars will fade over time but will never go away completely. They might be worse if you lift heavy objects too soon after surgery.
Other possible problems include:
- Loss of feeling in your breasts or nipples, which could be brief or long-term
- Side effects of the medication to help you sleep during surgery (anesthesia)
- Blood clots
- Swelling and bruising
- Damage to nerves, blood vessels, and other parts of your body
- The need for more surgery
Rarely, certain complications, such as inadequate healing of the nipple area, may require a skin graft.
Contact your doctor right away
- At the first sign of infection, including redness, tenderness or unusual swelling at the surgical site, or fever
- If you have any unusual discharge from the incision site (including pus)
- If any of the stitches come out before you are due to have them removed
Breast Reduction Surgery Costs
Experts estimate that breast reduction surgery can range from around $7,700 to more than $9,700. In most cases, insurance covers breast reduction surgery. Because breast reduction is considered reconstructive, your chances of getting insurance coverage are good. But you must be sure to follow all the procedures set forth by your policy.
Your surgeon can send in a letter with photos of your breasts and details about your physical symptoms. Get in touch with your health insurer early so you know exactly what they will pay for. For example, will insurance cover such things as lab costs or anesthesiologist fees? Asking in advance will help prevent surprises after the surgery.