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The Best Way to Recover from Breast Reduction Surgery

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Page Updated on May 31, 2022 by Dr. Norman Rowe (Plastic Surgeon) of Rowe Plastic Surgery

The Best Way to Recover from Breast Reduction Surgery

You see the difference immediately following your breast reduction surgery. While you can expect some swelling, it goes away within about four weeks. But the results from removing all that weight from your chest is apparent right away.

Still, closely follow your doctor’s orders when it comes to your recovery from breast reduction, so that those results continue for the rest of your life without any complications. Risks and side effects from the procedure are greatly reduced when you rely on the expertise of a seasoned plastic surgeon like those at Rowe Plastic Surgery  in NYC’s Upper East Side, as well as in Long Island, New Jersey and the Hamptons.

What Are the Initial Effects of Breast Reduction Surgery?

Breast reduction surgery usually is performed in an outpatient setting. You’re put under general anesthesia, so you sleep during the procedure. The surgery takes one and a half to two hours, depending on the size of your breasts and the amount of reduction you need.

To combat any discomfort immediately after the surgery, your doctors:

  • Give you an injection of long-acting pain medication, similar to the shot of Novocain you get at the dentist, but this pain medication lasts three to five days
  • Cover your breasts with a gauze bandage that you can remove in a couple of days
  • Provide you with a surgical bra that you should wear for about a week
  • Insert surgical drainage tubes for fluid removal, if necessary
  • Prescribe short-term pain medication to get you through the first week, if you need it
  • Set you up with a prescription for antibiotics to prevent an infection

How Long Is the Recovery from Breast Reduction Surgery?

The average recovery time is about four to six weeks. Normally, it’s relatively pain-free. You should be able to return to your regular routine within 10 days of the surgery. Avoid heavy lifting for three to four weeks. Also, limit contact with your breasts to very gentle touching for up to six weeks.

In nearly all cases, there’s no need to remove the sutures because your plastic surgeon uses dissolvable stiches that your body naturally absorbs. They usually disappear in a couple weeks. Over the initial six weeks of your recovery, you may experience:

  • Sensitive, tender breasts for up to a week
  • Inability to do rigorous exercise for anywhere from two to four weeks
  • Swollen breasts that also may appear bruised for about a week
  • Minimal scarring that fades within about four weeks
  • General weakness, with less energy than usual
  • A stretching or pulling sensation from your breasts for a couple weeks
  • Feeling as if there’s fluid moving in your breasts for maybe four weeks

What Can I Do to Make My Breast Reduction Recovery Go Smoothly?

By closely following all the instructions provided by your surgeon, your breast reduction recovery goes smoothly, quickly and relatively painlessly. While you may feel like dancing, it’s wise to wait to hit the dance floor until your doctor gives you the go-ahead. Keep your follow-up appointments, which you made prior to the surgery and are part of the cost of the surgery to ensure that you’re healing properly.

Other steps to take to make sure your recovery proceeds without complications include:

  • Avoid wearing bras with underwires for at least a month.
  • Keep the incisions clean and dry until the sutures disappear.
  • Watch for any changes, such as redness or additional swelling, and report them to your doctor immediately.
  • Rest when you’re feeling tired.
  • Get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Resist lifting anything over your head for about four weeks.
  • Take no baths for about four weeks.
  • Eat a nutritional diet, but substitute more bland foods if your stomach feels upset.
  • Drink plenty of fluids or as much as your NYC or NJ doctor recommends.
  • Take fiber supplements if you have trouble with bowel movements, which is common after surgery and anesthesia.
  • Walk every day, increasing the time gradually day by day.
  • Put a cold pack on your breasts for about 15 minutes every couple of hours for the first three days, laying a cloth between the ice and your skin.

How Should I Take Care of My New Breasts Over Time?

Breast reduction usually is permanent, as long as you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Of course, aging still affects your bosom, just as it does every other part of your body. Stay realistic about your expectations for a lifetime of perkier, younger-looking breasts. Overall, breast reduction greatly improves the quality of your life. With care and attention, you can avoid the things that interfere with the shape and lift of your smaller breasts, including:

  • Gaining weight. Weight gain is one of the culprits that affects the appearance of your new breasts. Extra weight causes your breasts to droop, which may result in a return of the symptoms that brought you to the plastic surgeon in the first place.
  • Getting pregnant. You gain weight during pregnancy, which may interfere with the long-term effects of your breast reduction surgery. Additionally, there is a chance that you won’t be able to breastfeed, although most women breastfeed successfully after a reduction.
  • Wearing improper bras. This is especially true if you’re a runner or participate in other sports or exercises that cause your bust to bounce. The constant stretching and jiggling loosens the ligaments in your pecs, causing your breasts to lose their shape. You also need good support all day long, so invest in good bras and make time to get fitted by a professional.
  • Smoking. If you smoke, your doctor advises that you quit at least a week before the surgery. To keep the negative effects of smoking from damaging the tissue in your new, smaller breasts, don’t start up again.
  • Exposing your skin to the sun. Ultraviolet rays damage your skin by causing it to lose elasticity and wrinkle. Sunlight also darkens your breast reduction scars. So stay out of tanning booths and wear sunscreen on your breasts when you’re outdoors.

The team of cosmetic surgeons in New Jersey, Manhattan, Long Island and the Hamptons are available for questions about enabling a smooth recovery after surgery and caring for your smaller breasts. They provide you with an extensive list of things to do immediately following surgery and for the long-term. Contact Rowe Plastic Surgery  to get immediate relief from the harrowing effects of breasts that are too big for your body. Breast reduction surgery is safe and effective, with very little expected downtime as you recover.


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