Best Recovery Tips For Breast Reduction

On average, you can expect your recovery to take two to six weeks. If you have a sedentary job, you’ll likely be cleared to return to work within just a week; for a very active job, you’ll need a respite of two weeks.

Don’t lift, push, or pull objects heavier than 5 to 10 pounds (2.3 to 5.4 kilograms) for 6 weeks after surgery. Keep this in mind when grocery shopping, lifting children, or doing laundry. Don’t do strenuous exercises (such as running, jogging, or jumping) for 6 weeks after surgery.

Best Recovery Tips For Breast Reduction

  • How long does it take to recover after breast reduction?
  • When can I get back to work after breast reduction?
  • Is the recovery period difficult after breast reduction surgery?

Overly large breasts or heavy breasts that are out of proportion can cause neck, back, and shoulder pain due to the added weight. They can also limit physical activity. Breast reduction surgery can make your breast smaller and take a significant weight off your back. The procedure can also enhance the shape of your breasts.

Dr Michael Kernohan is a renowned specialist plastic surgeon performing breast reduction surgery in Sydney’s Southwest Suburbs and the Southern Highlands. He is committed to delivering optimal results to his patients.

Why Recovery after Breast Reduction Surgery is so important

Breast reduction surgery is a complex plastic surgical procedure that needs a good recovery period. It is important to follow Dr Kernohan’s instructions closely during the recovery to minimise post-operative complications like infection or wound breakdown. Some lifestyle changes are also required for a successful outcome and comfortable recovery.

Although Dr Kernohan will give you recovery advice and provide you with a list of instructions, here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding breast reduction recovery.

A week by week Timeline for recovery after breast reduction

·       Week one

In the first week after the surgery please focus on rest and recovering. Follow the post-operative incision site care given to you. Wear compression garments at all times except while in the shower. Drink plenty of water, eat well, and avoid strenuous activity. Stick to your medication schedule. Even starting with the first few days post op, begin to take short gentle walks. Start at 10 minutes a day working your way up to 30 minutes. Allow the breast to heal and reduce the risk of complications by avoiding smoking & vaping and following Dr Kernohan’s post-op recommendations.

·       Week two

The stitches are usually removed in 7 to 10 days and you should continue wearing your surgical bra.

Pain, bruising and swelling may persist for 1-2 weeks following surgery. Stinging pain after breast reduction, worsening pain, or redness around the incision should be immediately brought to your surgeon’s attention.

·       Week two to four

In the 2-4 weeks following the surgery, you will notice that your swelling has gone down. Compare your swelling with breast reduction recovery week by week pictures.

·       Week four to six

Your breasts are still healing, so make sure you are gentle with them.

·       After six weeks

It may take six months to a year for your incisions to fully heal and to see the final results of the procedure.

Top Tips to recover from a breast reduction surgery           

Always follow the instructions given to you by your surgical team. You can follow some of these tips for a fast, smooth and straightforward recovery following breast reduction surgery:

  • Rest in a good position. Keep the chest elevated and avoid sleeping on your stomach for several weeks
  • Wear a proper bra. A soft and supporting bra will reduce bruising, swelling and keep the breast in the proper position
  • Don’t spend all your recovery time in bed. Start moving around slowly, but stop when you feel pain. Moving will improve blood circulation that will send oxygen to the wound site for a faster recovery. Mobilisation will also minimise your risk of developing a blood clot
  • Good emotional and physical support is the key to faster recovery. Ask for assistance and support when required. Ensure that friends and family are available to help you for the first 72 hours after the procedure. Household chores, child and elderly care should be designated to trusted people. You also need assistance for dressing up and caring for the incision site
  • Take your medications as advised by Dr Kernohan. Usually, Dr Kernohan prescribes analgesic medication, as well as antibiotics to prevent a potential infection
  • Eat healthy and nutritious food. Simple, unprocessed, home food with low sodium will help minimise swelling
  • Keep yourself hydrated. Drink plenty of water. This can help remove the traces of anaesthesia from your body. It will also reduce the chances of constipation and fluid retention
  • Keep wearing your compression garments to prevent the incision from stretching. It will also control inflammation and breast reduction swelling on the side

Is Breast Reduction major or minor surgery?

  • Breast reduction is a major surgery with potential risks and complications. The surgery is carried out under general anaesthesia and you will be asleep during the procedure. The surgery involves removing extra fat, breast glandular tissues, and skin. It also includes reshaping the rest of the breast tissue. Your nipples will be moved to a new position. The surgery may take 2 to 3 hours, depending upon the extent of breast reduction.

How long does it take to fully heal from breast reduction?

  • Recovery after breast reduction surgery varies as each person responds differently to the surgery. But, generally expect to take 1-3 weeks off your work or school. A complete breast reduction recovery may take 6 weeks. Your strength and energy may come back within a week but limit your physical activity. You can return to work earlier if you don’t have a physically demanding job.

When can I drive after Breast Reduction Surgery?

  • Generally, avoid driving for about 2 to 3 weeks. Put off driving till you can safely use the steering wheel, put the seat belt comfortably across your chest, and can safely perform an emergency stop. You can also use a pillow between your chest and the seatbelt, but ensure that it will not block your vision.

What shouldn’t I do after breast reduction surgery?

  • You can take a gentle walk but intense exercises should be avoided for 4-6 weeks
  • Do not shower for a week or soak in a bathtub for a minimum of two weeks
  • Do not drive until you can wear a seatbelt comfortably across your chest and you have stopped analgesic medication for 1-2 weeks
  • Do not lift heavy objects or bend over to lift them
  • Do not smoke or vape as nicotine can delay the wound healing time
  • Do not expect immediate recovery

How long is bed rest after breast reduction?

  • In the first week following breast reduction surgery, bed rest is crucial. You are going to feel tired for the first 72 hours. Get up and take a short walk as soon as possible to minimise the risk of a blood clot. But it is also important to rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you heal and recover faster. Sleep on your back for the first two weeks following breast reduction surgery as sleeping on your stomach will put pressure on your incision. To make sure you get adequate bed rest, let people taking care of you know how important rest is for your recovery. Designate someone to look after household chores, children, and the elderly. Turn off your alarm and get a good sleep.

Do breasts sag after breast reduction?

The breast can change over time even after reduction surgery. The effect of gravity and ageing may cause the breast to continue to sag after reduction. However, the degree of sagging is less severe than before as your breasts are now lighter. Follow these tips to keep your new breast in top shape:

  • Follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly
  • Avoid weight fluctuations
  • Stop smoking as it damages the breast skin
  • Keep the breast skin moisturised
  • Wear a good quality and comfortable bra to support the breasts

Can I lay on my side after breast reduction?

  • It is not a good idea to sleep on your side or on your stomach immediately following breast reduction. You can start sleeping on your side two weeks after the procedure. You should however avoid stomach sleeping at this point and wait till after four weeks. It is recommended that you sleep on your back during the first post-op week.

What happens if you sleep on your side after breast reduction?

  • Sleeping on your side after breast reduction surgery is going to put pressure on your healing incisions and breast tissue. Side sleeping can strain the fresh incision. It can force the healing scars to stretch and bleed. The additional pressure can also cause swelling of the breast tissue leading to discomfort and pain.

What happens at 1 month post-op breast reduction?

  • Most women can expect almost a full recovery in a month after the procedure. The breast will begin to feel soft and natural. Swelling will be reduced and you can return to your normal activities.

When can you lift your arms after breast reduction?

  • You can start moving your hands one to two days after the surgery. Do not lift your arms above your head for 7 days after the procedure. After that, you can begin to raise your hands gently. Gradually lift it further up if you don’t experience any pulling, bleeding, or swelling.

What to wear after breast reduction surgery?

  • You should wear a well-fitted bra after breast reduction surgery. This is going to support your breast tissue and should be worn for at least the first several weeks after the procedure. A bra without an underwire is optimal as it does not put pressure on the incision and breast crease. It is also recommended you wear a bra with a front clasp or zipper. This will prevent you from reaching out to the back for the clasp, thereby reducing tension on your fresh incision.

How can I make my breasts perky after reduction?

  • Simply wear good supporting bras after reduction surgery. The surgery itself is going to lift your breasts for a perky appearance.

What happens at 6 weeks post-op breast reduction?

  • You may be able to make a full recovery at 6 weeks post-op, provided that your wounds have healed completely and you have followed all the after-care instructions. Sometimes, recovery time may vary between people.

How Long Do I Need To Sleep on My Back After Breast Reduction?

A breast reduction can improve your self-image and provide the lifestyle you want. For instance, you may finally exercise without worrying about breast pain or wear a bathing suit without feeling self-conscious. To support your recovery, we at My Cosmetic Clinic in New Castle, Crows Nest, Erina, Newcastle, Nowra, Sydney, Rosebery, and Wollongong will recommend a series of steps to follow at home – including the need to sleep on your back.

How Long Do I Need To Sleep on My Back After Breast Reduction?

Sleeping on your side or stomach too soon after breast surgery – including breast reduction – can strain fresh incisions and force scars still in the process of healing to bleed or stretch. The excess pressure may also cause swelling and discomfort that can interfere with sleep. It’s important you get the rest you need after surgery as this is when your body recovers.

Simply put, sleeping on your back keeps your breasts in an optimal position for healing. We therefore recommend you keep this position for eight to 12 weeks post-surgery. Some online sources suggest four to six weeks are enough, but you will continue healing beyond this short window of time. To keep pace with that process, you should continue sleeping on your back for no less than eight weeks.

Additional Benefits

Before you groan in dismay at this recommendation, we want to assure you back sleeping has other benefits as well. For example, it allows your skin to absorb beneficial products applied just before bedtime. This means your nighttime moisturizer may sink deeper into tissues and produce more visible results. Sleeping face-up may also:

  • Prevent sleep-related facial wrinkles
  • Reduce facial breakouts
  • Minimize under-eye puffiness

You Can Train Yourself

Studies confirm most people prefer to sleep on their sides, and some even find lying on their stomachs to be the most comfortable position. But with a little practice and preparation, you can train yourself to become a back sleeper by the time your procedure date arrives.

Side and stomach sleepers often miss the feeling of a pillow against their faces when sleeping on their backs. This can be easily fixed by placing a smaller pillow over one cheek and eye. Or push it against the side of your head for additional support. You’ll also need to pay attention to arm placement after surgery; throwing them over your head likely will not be an option. It can be helpful to place one pillow under each arm to hug or cradle.

Create a Nighttime Routine To Support Back-Sleeping Comfort

Changing your sleep position directly impacts how your muscles, organs, and bones are situated at night. With this in mind, you might want to engage in a few gentle stretches before bedtime. Loosening tight hips and hamstrings can reduce back pain. Yoga can likewise help you relax and fall into a quick slumber as soon as you lie down.

A short stack of pillows under bent knees may make back sleeping more comfortable. Also, avoid eating a large meal right before bed. This is a great habit to establish anyway, but sleeping with heavy food in your stomach can increase nighttime indigestion and heartburn.

Choose the Right Mattress and Pillows

A firm or medium-firm mattress offers more support for back sleeping than a softer mattress. Firmer mattresses distribute weight more evenly to prevent pressure points on parts like the shoulders and hips. A mattress topper can help firm your current bed if you’re not ready to invest in a new mattress.

Having the right pillow is just as important as the right mattress. You need one that supports your head and neck while lying on your back. A shaped pillow may keep shoulders relaxed and supported. Another option is an adjustable fill pillow that allows you to dial into your exact comfort level.

Build a Throne of Pillows

Many patients fall asleep on their backs only to wake on their sides or bellies. Creating a thrown of pillows can prevent you from rolling over in the middle of the night. Plan on needing around five pillows:

  • One under your knees
  • Two under your head and shoulders
  • One on either side of your body

This is simply a starting point. If you find you need more pillows than this, feel free to use them. And practice sleeping on this new throne for at least a week before your breast reduction surgery. Learning to lie on your back won’t happen overnight. Starting this new habit now will ensure your post-surgery recovery goes as smoothly as possible.

Prevent Other Sleeping Positions

Your pillow throne should help you stay on your back throughout the night. But if you keep trying this method to no avail, you might want to put tennis balls inside your pyjama bottom pockets. This will create discomfort when you roll onto your side, prompting you to return to your back. Or, as mentioned earlier, use more pillows to further surround your body.

Breast Reduction Recovery: What Should I Expect?

When your breasts are larger than you’d like or if they are causing you physical health issues like shoulder pain, a breast reduction could be the best option for you.

Recovery from breast reduction surgery is a key concern because you want and need to return to work and family life as soon as possible. Your concern about breast reduction recovery is already an indicator that you take your health seriously and do your best to make sound decisions.

We’ve been working with plastic surgery patients in Bergen County NJ for more than a decade and have found that taking the time to conduct research is one of the things that can lead to a great surgical outcome.

Research is the Best Preparation for Breast Reduction Surgery

To help you make a confident decision about whether breast reduction surgery is right for you, let’s look into the typical breast reduction recovery experience. We’ve outlined the stages of recovery below, however, if you are looking to learn specific details about your recovery we recommend scheduling an appointment with your local breast reduction surgeon.

Contrary to what you might have heard, the best qualified and most experienced breast surgeons generally offer a no-charge consultation. That’s because caring and skilled surgeons want to make sure you are a good candidate for the procedure before moving forward.

Stages of Breast Reduction Recovery: Immediately After Surgery

During breast reduction surgery the breast is lifted and its weight is reduced. The nipples are repositioned and liposuction may be performed in some cases. Breast reduction surgeries may take between 3 and 5 hours and is an outpatient procedure.

After the procedure, you are taken to the recovery room of the surgical center to be monitored as you awake from general anesthesia. You will return home the same day, but you must arrange for a friend or family member to drive you to and from the surgery location. Someone should stay with you for the first night after your breast reduction as you may be disoriented or groggy.

You will go home wearing a surgical bra that supports the breasts during the healing process and minimizes incision stress and swelling. Beneath the supportive bra, there will be gauze and steri-strips. The sutures are not visible and most will be absorbed.

The bra and gauze are easily removed on the second postoperative day for the first shower.

Breast Reduction Recovery Stages: The First Weeks After Surgery

Breast reduction does not involve bone or muscle, but it does require skin incisions. It can take up to 6 weeks for inflammation to decrease to a point that your breasts start to feel soft and natural again. You should continue wearing a bra throughout your recovery but may change to any soft bra, as long as there is no underwire. Your post procedure breast reduction recovery instructions will be customized to your specific case, but generally, you can expect:

  • Sutures: Most of your stitches will be absorbable and not require removal but often there will be one suture on each side that may require removal after 7 days.
  • Pain: Pain is very subjective but many women report feeling burning sensations and discomfort initially following surgery. Pain medicine will be prescribed to be taken if necessary, for the first 7 days. Many patients do not require the prescription strength pain medicine and may take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Your breasts will ache and continue feeling tender for a couple of weeks.
  • Showers: You may shower on the second postoperative day.
  • Driving: Do not drive until you are done taking your prescription medicine.
  • Working: While every individual is unique, most women may go back to work within 1-2 weeks, if they work in an office environment.
  • First menstrual period: The first period after breast reduction surgery may cause pain and swell in your breasts.
  • Exercising: You can resume light exercises, such as spin or stationary biking immediately and advance to more vigorous exercise, including running, 3-4 weeks following your surgery.

Remember these recovery estimates are purely general estimates and in no way should they be taken as personalized medical advice. Always speak with your surgeon before making any changes to your lifestyle.

How to Enhance Your Recovery from Breast Reduction Surgery

Make it a point to put your health first when you’re recovering from your breast reduction surgery. This includes following your post-surgery instructions closely. You will have several follow up visits with your surgeon during your breast reduction recovery to ensure that you are healing properly. Tips to enhance healing include:

  • Do not smoke!
  • Drink water and stay hydrated.
  • Do not consume alcohol for several days after your procedure.
  • Rest for the first 48 hours after surgery. Get a trusted person or family member to stay with you for the first 24 hours.
  • Sleep propped up. Use pillows to support your upper body at roughly a 30-degree angle for the first 2 or 3 weeks after your breast reduction.
  • Avoid any physical activity that might place stress on your incisions. Don’t bend over, lift objects or lift your arms up over your head.
  • Contact your doctor right away if you see signs of infection in your incisions. This is rare after a breast reduction, however, you should be on the lookout for drainage, increasing pain, fever and excessive inflammation or swelling. Any of these signs can be a signal that there is an infection.

Remember that if you have any doubt about your understanding of the breast reduction recovery instructions or self-care after your surgery, you’re encouraged to contact your surgeon’s office right away.

You should never guess what to do during your recovery. If you don’t recall exactly what you were instructed to do or if the written materials leave any questions in your mind, just contact the office for guidance. Your successful breast reduction recovery and overall health is your surgeon’s highest priority.

Getting Breast Reduction Surgery

Breast reduction procedures are very common in the US, and in northern NJ, today. Breast reduction surgery is not the right choice for everyone–but those who do undergo the surgery typically see fantastic results. The vast majority of the approximately 43,000 women who undergo breast reduction surgeries annually emerge with a positive outcome and an enhanced self-esteem.

Breast reduction patients often report that they feel energized and rejuvenated. The majority of women report that they are happy with their new, smaller breasts.

Although results are typically very good, you must understand that scars are an inevitable part of having surgery. Your breast reduction surgeon will use certain techniques to minimize scarring and the chances of complications. However, it is still important to understand the risks that are associated with breast reduction surgery.

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