Breast reduction is a surgical procedure to reduce the size of large or oversized breasts, with the aim of improving a woman’s physical and mental wellbeing.
Oversized breasts may develop in puberty as a result of genes inherited from the mother and/or father’s side of the family. Increased levels of the female sex hormone oestrogen, for example during pregnancy and breastfeeding, can also cause breasts to increase in size. Breasts may change size numerous times during the course of a woman’s life, so any increase in breast size may only be temporary. However disproportionally large breasts can cause pain, uncomfortable and embarrassing skin irritation and impact on self-confidence. Oversized breasts can also limit lifestyle choices, for example, avoiding swimming or going to the beach because you don’t want to be seen in swimwear, or avoiding intimate relationships.
Breast reduction surgery, also known as mammoplasty, takes between two and three hours to perform with the patient under a general anaesthetic.
For women who are living with back, neck and shoulder pain caused by oversized breasts, breast reduction surgery can be life-changing. But it is still an invasive medical procedure and you must allow time for your body to heal. So how long does breast reduction recovery take?
Immediately after your surgery you will experience some discomfort, swelling and bruising. We advise patients to take a week off work after breast reduction surgery, when this swelling is at its peak. We ask that you come in and see our nursing team one week after surgery to ensure your incision sites have been properly reviewed.
You can have a full body shower one week after your breast reduction surgery. This is usually when any bandages and drains are removed. It is important that you use non-perfumed soap and gently pat yourself dry with a clean towel afterwards. Avoid any scrubbing or rubbing this delicate area with the towel.
Any remaining swelling or bruising should disappear between two or three weeks post-surgery. It is important that you avoid UV light for two to four weeks in order to aid the scarring process. After two weeks, you should be able to resume most day-to-day activities safely.
At this stage in your breast reduction recovery, you can start taking baths again or soaking the area in hot water, should you want to.
If you have followed all the breast reduction aftercare advice issued by your surgeon, you should start to see the results of your surgery. At this stage you can return to running, jogging or exercise classes safely. We ask that you come in to see your surgeon after six weeks for one final check up.
As part of your breast reduction surgery aftercare, your surgeon will recommend that you wear a sports bra or surgical bra 24 hours a day to give your breasts the necessary support. You can stop wearing a sports or surgical bra at eight weeks post-surgery.
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It is important that you avoid any strenuous exercise, such as running, jogging or exercise classes and sports that involve using your arms, for six weeks after your breast reduction surgery.
During this six week recovery period you must also refrain from lifting, pushing, or pulling objects heavier than 5kg. This means being careful when carrying shopping bags, lifting children and doing household chores like laundry and vacuuming. Before you have your surgery, we recommend asking friends or family members to help you with these activities during your breast reduction recovery.
You will not be able to drive following your breast reduction surgery until you can wear a seatbelt and perform an emergency stop without it aggravating your wounds and causing you pain. Some women feel ready to drive after two weeks, but for some it may take longer. You should not drive any earlier than one week post-surgery.
It may be tempting to go braless after your surgery, but wearing a sports bra or surgical bra is important for your breast reduction recovery as these help to keep the breasts in their new shape. You should choose a non-padded, non-underwired bra and wear it for 24 hours a day until around the eight week mark. After the sports or surgical bra is removed, then you should wear bras that do not rub or put pressure on your surgical sites.
This means that you may want to avoid underwire bras, which can irritate the incision site underneath the breasts. As this area may be inflamed and tender for some months after your breast reduction surgery, you may find that underwire bras are uncomfortable. Some women may not go back to wearing underwire bras for three to six months after their breast reduction surgery. Once the incision sites have properly healed, you are free to wear whatever type of bra you want, provided it fits and provides an appropriate level of support.
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“I was treated with care and provided with thorough knowledge about the procedure I was undertaking. My surgeon was very methodical (a perfectionist) and I felt I received A class treatment."Courtney O'Sullivan
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"There is nothing that I feel could be improved at Cadogan Clinic. I was treated and looked after very well the place was very clean. Perfect. Thank you."Emma Grant
"The treatment was for my daughter and the aesthetic practitioner couldn't have been more helpful and informative all through the course of treatment, it was a great treatment with a brilliant outcome. The whole experience was very professional and any worries we went in with were soon taken away after the team greeted us and treated us."Jessica Yates
"Reception staff very welcoming and efficient. Both nurses who I dealt with were fantastic, and the whole team (anaesthetist, surgeon etc) were friendly but professional, and really put my mind at ease. That I was able to stay later than I perhaps needed after my surgery to fit in with my husbands schedule was greatly appreciated."Emma Davies
It is important that you follow all the aftercare instructions issued by your surgeon to ensure that your breast reduction recovery goes smoothly and to ensure you enjoy the very best results from your surgery. Our expert team here at the Cadogan Clinic will be here to help you through the recovery process. Once home you will have access to our dedicated on-call nursing team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This team of specialists is dedicated to your comfort and recovery, and is there to field any questions you may have in the immediate post operative phase.
Our expert scar minimisation team will also be available to provide you with the tools and techniques to enhance the healing process. The appearance of scars can be reduced by using regular moisturisation and massage techniques, all of which our dedicated team will advise you on in the days following your procedure.
If you are interested in finding out more about whether breast reduction surgery is right for you, book an appointment with one of our surgeons who will discuss the available options.
Treatments mentioned in this article
Breast reduction removes tissue to improve the size, weight, and appearance of large breasts.View Treatment
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