Cosmetic Surgery Tips

How long after breast reduction can i go back to work

Breast reduction surgery is performed to remove excess fat, tissue and skin from the breasts. It is done to relieve women of chronic pain caused by overly large breasts and to improve their breast’s shape and appearance. After your procedure is complete, you will be asked not to do any strenuous physical activity for at least 2 weeks after the surgery. So it stands to reason that most women who have had breast reduction surgery will be able to return to work after 2 weeks.

The recovery period depends on the type of breast reduction surgery you’ve had. For instance, if the procedure was done through an incision in your armpit and not around your nipple, it will take a little longer for you to heal—and even then, you should still wait at least one month before returning to work and exercise.

How long after breast reduction can i go back to work

Women seek breast reduction because the size or volume of their breasts is causing physical or psychological discomfort. Overall, this breast procedure is fairly common and can be completed in about four to five hours. But what is the recovery period like? At My Cosmetic Clinic in Newcastle, NSW, we are fully prepared to answer any questions you may have about your plastic surgery procedure.

How Long Is Recovery After a Breast Reduction?

Most women will be able to resume normal activities about two to three weeks after a breast reduction. Normal activities usually include household chores, some types of exercise, and going back to work. Some women, such as those who work office jobs, may be able to return to work about one week after treatment. Each patient will have a unique recovery timeline, but some common milestones you can expect include:

Day One

On the day of your procedure, your surgery will be performed under general anesthesia, which will keep you sedated and comfortable for the duration of your treatment. After your surgery is complete, you may stay in the hospital for one to two days before going home. You will need to arrange for transportation and assistance at home for the first week after your procedure. We will give you several post-operative instructions to follow, such as:

  • Taking care of incisions
  • Movement and activity restrictions
  • Medications and prescriptions
  • How long to wear a support bra

Your instructions may include tips on the best way to sleep, such as on your back, and movements you should avoid, such as lifting your arms or any heavy objects. You may be instructed to avoid getting your incisions or dressings wet for at least 24 hours and to avoid hot water. You should avoid alcohol and smoking during your recovery period.

Week One

You will be required to wear a support bra after your surgery for the majority of the day for about four to six weeks. The only time you should take off your support bra is for showering. Consistently wearing your support bra will ensure the results of your breast reduction develop as desired. During the first week of your recovery, you will be encouraged to have light movement, such as walking around the house, but overall you should focus on resting.

It’s important to eat healthily and drink plenty of water during your recovery, as your body will need these resources to heal faster. You should continue to take all medications as prescribed and avoid strenuous activity. Your first follow-up appointment is usually scheduled a week after your procedure to assess your healing process.

Week Two

During the second week of your recovery, your incisions may start to feel tight and itchy. This can be managed by keeping your incisions moist, such as with Vaseline. You should continue to wear your support bra as directed, as this will help your breast tissues contour correctly during healing. Your activity may also be limited and you should continue a low-sodium diet with plenty of water. This may be the week when you return to work.

One Month

About one month after your procedure, you may feel normal after your treatment. During this period, you should be able to resume most of your normal activities, including house chores and light exercise. Please continue to avoid lifting, strenuous exercise, and any straining activities. You should continue wearing your support bra for the majority of the day.

During this month, you may start to notice the physical benefits of your procedure. You may notice that you have less back, shoulder, and neck pain, and that clothes are fitting more easily. You may also have another follow-up appointment.

Two Months

After about two months, you will be able to resume most of your other activities, including your normal exercise routine. Exercise such as jogging, yoga, and swimming may be options for you during this time as long as you follow all other directions. Although you will be mostly healed by this time, you should continue to wear your support bra until the end of six to eight months to ensure your breasts have settled and healed correctly. After two months, you should be able to wear normal bras and sports bras as you wish.

How You Can Prepare for Your Surgery and Recovery

Preparing for your breast reduction surgery and recovery is essential since having a low-key recovery period will ensure your results develop as desired. You can prepare for your surgery by following pre-operative instructions, such as discontinuing certain blood-thinning medications and supplements, avoiding alcohol and tobacco products, and arranging for your recovery period.

Some things you can do to prepare for your recovery include taking time off work, arranging for someone to be with you the first few days after your surgery, grocery shopping and meal preparation, and shopping for additional compression bras. You will want to be sure you have comfortable, loose clothing and that you can keep water, snacks, and medications by your bed or the area you plan to be in during your recovery.

Are There Any Other Tips for Recovery?

The most important tip to keep in mind is listening to your body. If you are trying to do an activity and you experience any discomfort or soreness, you should take that as a sign to stop doing that activity. Your body will let you know when you can resume activities without discomfort. Focus on resting and following your post-operative instructions so you can recover from your procedure as soon as possible.

How Soon Will You See Results?

Most women will start to see the initial results of this surgery about four to six weeks after the breast reduction surgery. These results will continue to improve as more time passes. Ultimately, your optimal results may be visible two to three months after your procedure if you follow all post-operative instructions closely.

Why Do Women Have Reduction Surgery?

A breast reduction is a moderately invasive surgery that has a prolonged recovery time, but it’s also very common so it’s clear that many women feel this procedure is beneficial. There are several reasons why a woman may want to have reduction surgery. No matter what your reason is, this procedure is designed to help you feel better and reduce your pain. Some of the most common reasons women seek this procedure include:


Large breasts can cause pain in the back, shoulder, and neck. The pain is typically caused by the weight of the breasts putting stress on the muscles and nerves of the upper back, neck, and shoulders. This pain can be disruptive to daily life and can cause other medical concerns, such as headaches, over time.


Skin irritation can occur for a few reasons. For example, rashes and sores beneath or between the breasts can form because of skin pressure and friction; sores can also form because of underwires in bras. Many women experience deep gouges in their shoulders because of bra straps, as well. Skin irritation on the breasts can be hard to treat because large breasts require support throughout the day, so it may be difficult to apply ointments.


Overly large breasts can also restrict your activities, such as going to the gym or doing other activities. Women who have very large breasts may find it difficult to complete certain chores. Women may not be able to comfortably jog, run, or do other activities even with sports bras.


Finally, many women seek this procedure because they are self-conscious about the appearance of their bodies. Large breasts tend to have a long or pendulous appearance, which some women may find undesirable. Self-consciousness can also stem from difficulty finding bras that fit correctly.

Feel Better About Your Breasts

A breast reduction is a common procedure that will take about eight weeks to recover from, although your treatment timeline will depend on your health and how well you follow post-operative instructions. During your recovery period, you will need to wear support or compression bras for several weeks. You may also need to arrange for time off work and for help around the house during the first few weeks of your recovery.


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.

Though 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.

  • Rest as needed, but don’t be afraid to move around. Try to walk around and resume lighter activities after the first few days. This helps encourage your body to heal.
  • Get help from a friend or family member for the first two to three days. You will most likely be sore at this point in your recovery, and additional help can make relaxing much easier.
  • Take pain medications if you need them. Some discomfort is normal as your body begins to heal, but don’t suffer if you don’t need to.
  • Don’t drive yourself for the first week or two if possible. It may take some time for your anesthesia to completely wear off. In the following days, the act of driving, as well as the seatbelt across your chest area, may cause discomfort.
  • Refrain from smoking and other tobacco products, as these are known to complicate the body’s ability to heal.

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 or Dr. Reddy.

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 or Dr. Reddy 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 your surgeon 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 and Dr. Reddy understand 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, they recommend 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.

How long after breast reduction can i sleep on my side

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.

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