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Your Guide to Breast Reduction Recovery and Aftercare

How long will breast reduction recovery take, and what can I do to help my recovery at home?

Tagged: Body & Breast

Author: Mr. Bryan Mayou, MB ChB FRCS

Date: 24th April 2023

Medically Reviewed by:  Mr. Bryan Mayou (GMC: 1414396)

Last reviewed: 6th February 2024

How Long Will Breast Reduction Recovery Take?

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 post surgery. 

Breast reduction surgery takes between two and three hours to perform under a general anaesthetic, and is generally considered a straightforward day case surgery, after which you can return home on the same day. 

A full recovery is typically achieved in 6 – 8 weeks following surgery.

Related Article: Breast Reduction Before & After

How Can I Best Prepare For My Breast Reduction Recovery Before Surgery?

There are plenty of things you can do to prepare yourself in advance for your breast reduction recovery, and ensure as smooth a healing process as possible.  

This can involve certain physical and mental preparation so your mind and body can recover from surgery as efficiently as possible, as well as certain practical pieces of preparation to make it that bit more convenient as you begin your healing process. Some tips might include: 

  1. Make sure you are fully briefed on what is going to happen by attending all surgeon consultations, and fully understand all preoperative and postoperative instructions, with a particular focus on post operative wound care e.g. how to clean incisions, apply dressings and prevent infection. 
  2. Make sure you are in best possible physical shape for surgery: you must have quit smoking at least 6 weeks before surgery to ensure you are in the best possible position to heal and minimise complications, as well as ideally be in a good state of physical fitness, have maintained a healthy diet and lifestyle, and have a stable body weight to optimise long term results from breast reduction 
  3. Make sure you are in the best possible frame of mind psychologically and have realistic expectations about your surgery and your expected breast reduction healing and recuperation timeline 
  4. Reach out to friends and family to prepare them to provide both emotional and practical support during the recuperation process. You will need the support of others to help manage your breast recovery week by week , focusing in reducing stress and helping you  heal from breast reduction surgery  
  5. Make sure your home is prepared with the correct postoperative supplies such as pain medication, dressings, and garments, and furniture arranged for maximum convenience to help limit unnecessary mobility in the breast and chest area immediately after surgery  
  6. Make sure you are ready to follow your surgeon’s instructions closely regarding what activities are and are not allowed during the recuperation process, and are mentally prepared for a period of restriction and rest 

Breast Reduction Recovery Timeline

Breast Reduction Recovery Times inevitably vary between patients but an indicative breast recovery week by week timeline might look as follows: 

Immediate Postoperative Period (Days 1 - 3)

  • Breast reduction surgery is performed as a day case at Cadogan Clinic meaning you will be able to immediately return home on the day of surgery. Dressings will be applied by your nurse and you will be fitted with a support garment designed to minimise movement and encourage healing.  
  • You may be in a bit of pain and will be given standard pain medication to help manage this in the initial days – this is very common.  
  • We ask that a chaperone accompanies you home after surgery and you begin your healing journey from the comfort of your home.  
  • Light activity is encouraged to ensure good blood circulation following surgery, but strenuous activity is to be avoided     
  • You will be supplied with a 24/7 nursing telephone number so if you have any questions day or night our excellent nursing team can be accessed.  

 

Week 1

  • This is a key recovery period in which you are still in the early healing phase and strenuous activity should be severely limited. There should be no lifting whatsoever, and you will still be experiencing swelling and bruising even if this begins to subside. 
  • You will meet back at the Clinic with one of our post operative nurses for a breast reduction 1 week post op wound check, at which your incisions and dressings will be reviewed and your healing progress assessed.  
  • Although it is possible to return to work during this period we would recommend only doing so if you do not work in a physically demanding occupation and you are able to handle any mild discomfort you may well still be experiencing. A week off work is generally advised  
  • This is the time to watch what you consume, and try to eat healthily, and do not smoke or drink alcohol 
  • 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 of this delicate area with the towel.   

 

Weeks 2 - 4

  • 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, and you should be looking to gradually reintroduce light physical activities  
  • 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. 

Months 1 - 3

  • 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 into your boob reduction recovery.  
  • This period in your boob reduction recovery is critical for the maturing of your scars: they should begin to settle and change in appearance, and assimilate with the surrounding skin tissue  
  • We often advise for you to come in and visit your surgeon again during this time to check on progress.

6 Months to 1 Year

Your final results should begin to show and your boob reduction recovery should now be complete. Scar maturing continues however and you should continue your scar management programme carefully.

What Can I Do to Help My Boob Reduction Recovery at Home?

Here are some lifestyle breast reduction recovery tips courtesy of Mr Bryan Mayou, our founder and world renowned plastic surgeon, designed to improve your breast reduction healing time and aftercare experience   

Exercising 
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. 

Driving 
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. 

Wearing bras and underwear 
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. 

Adhering to your aftercare advice 
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. 



Words From Our Founder

Mr. Bryan Mayou

Whenever I talk to patients about breast reduction recovery I tell them to embrace rest – those first few days are absolutely key and you need to allow your body time to heal. Follow your surgeon's instructions and stay hydrated and nourished. When it comes to movement you must wear your garments, gentle movement is the key to quick healing and good scars. Finally, celebrate the small victories! Its important to celebrate and acknowledge each small milestone in your recovery journey and take a moment to recognise the positive progress. Patience is always a virtue, recovery takes time, but it can be seriously enjoyable to observe the results as they reveal themselves.
Mr. Bryan Mayou

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