Medically reviewed by Mr. Omar Tillo — MD, MS, EBOPRAS, FRCS (Plast)
It is important to remember that every patient will heal from breast reduction at their own speed. However, this guide to breast reduction recovery will give you a generalised account of how and when each part of your recovery is likely to unfold.
What to Expect During Breast Reduction Recovery
Breast reduction removes excess tissue and skin in order to reduce breast size. This requires incisions and, therefore, a recovery period to allow the wounds to heal.
After the recovery period, your breasts should settle into their new, more comfortable size and shape, but it will be of the utmost importance to follow key guidance from your surgeon to ensure an optimal recovery.
Swelling & Discomfort
Swelling in the first week after your surgery is completely normal, but things should begin to calm down after that. The majority of the swelling should have eased two weeks after the surgery, but some swelling may remain for up to 3-4 months.
You can help the healing process by drinking plenty of water and staying active as much as recommended at each stage of recovery.
Lymphatic drainage massage can also help to ease discomfort by promoting the movement of lymph fluids and encouraging faster healing.
A compression garment is a piece of clothing designed to fit snugly to your skin, keeping pressure on the still tender areas after surgery. In the case of breast reduction, you will require a compression bra to put pressure on your breasts during recovery.
It is necessary to wear this compression bra for 6 weeks after your surgery as it will help improve circulation and reduce swelling.
Breast Reduction Scarring
Any major surgery will result in scarring, and breast reduction is no different. However, the extent and visibility of your breast reduction scars will depend on a variety of factors, such as age, the type of surgical techniques used, and how you care for the wounds during recovery.
The initial redness immediately after the surgery is likely to fade after the first six weeks. As time passes, breast reduction scars can become less and less visible and should eventually fade into thin white lines.
Breast Reduction Recovery Timeline
This week-by-week timeline should give you an approximate timeframe for each period of recovery after your breast reduction:
Week 1 After Surgery
The first week after your surgery is when you will be at your most delicate. Ideally, you should have someone around to help you at this stage so that you may rest.
It is crucial to take everything slowly in these initial stages, taking great care of your wounds and wearing your compression bra as instructed. Swelling and discomfort are to be expected but can be managed using pain medication and by carefully applying ice packs.
After the first 48 hours, you should be able to begin showering. Your surgeon will demonstrate how to change dressings in order to maintain cleanliness at the incision sites.
Week 2 After Surgery
In the second week after surgery, you will most likely see a reduction in swelling, but you may still have some bruising and site-specific pain. Caution should be taken not to overexert yourself and to avoid lifting heavy objects.
At this point, most patients can comfortably return to daily activities, such as work and light exercise.
Week 3 After Surgery
Side effects should begin to subside after the first three weeks, but you must listen to your body and not take part in any activities that put great pressure on the incision sites until they have completely healed.
As the healing process advances, you may begin to notice some itching: try to avoid scratching, as this can be detrimental to scar formation.
Week 4-6 Weeks After Surgery
By this stage, you should be feeling much less discomfort and be able to return to most everyday activities from your preoperative routine. 6 weeks is a common milestone for full recovery.
Month 2 After Surgery
In the second month post surgery, you will likely see a drastic reduction in swelling. It should be possible to resume all day-to-day activities and return to exercise following a breast reduction, including exercise that involves greater physical stress, such as weightlifting, running, or even swimming (although care must be taken to avoid direct sunlight on your scars).
Breast Reduction Recovery Tips
Recovery from breast reduction procedure can be improved by taking a few simple steps:
- Losing weight before a breast reduction – Being a healthy BMI can help to speed up the process of recovery. Following a careful diet in the lead-up to your operation can be the best way to ensure a healthy weight before your operation, and speaking to a nutritionist can be a great way to keep consistency.
- Get plenty of sleep – both before the operation and during the recovery will help your body improve its natural healing ability, so make sure to have sensible, regular sleep patterns established in the buildup to your operation.
- Get active – As soon as you’re ready and your surgeon gives you permission, make sure to gradually get your body moving, as this will help improve circulation and promote faster healing.
Is Breast Reduction Worth It?
Breast reduction can bring dramatic benefits, making long-lasting improvements to a patient’s quality of life. It can open the door to new, more active lifestyles by removing the ongoing discomfort of overly large breasts and making possible freer, more flexible movement.
Working with the right surgeon, breast reduction can be hugely rewarding, reshaping your breasts in a way that makes you feel more at home in the skin you live in.
For these reasons, many patients consider a breast reduction to be a worthwhile surgery.
Schedule a Consultation with CREO Clinic Today
If you are interested in breast reduction surgery, book a consultation with Dr Omar Tillo, the CREO Clinic’s breast reduction specialist and double board-certified cosmetic surgeon.
Collaborating with you every step of the way, Dr Tillo can create a tailor-made, personalised treatment plan that will help to realise your hopes for more proportionate, aesthetically pleasing breasts.