Breast Reduction Side Effects
Breast reduction surgery can alleviate the pain and discomfort experienced by women with large, heavy breasts. However, It is important to have an understanding of what will occur following surgery before deciding if the procedure is right for you. Below you will find important information about what to expect after surgery, including possible breast reduction side effects and the pain that may be experienced during recovery.
To learn more about the procedure, including the cosmetic risks, benefits, and possible health complications associated with treatment, you should consult a local physician and discuss your goals with him or her in person.
What to Expect after Breast Reduction Surgery
Breast reduction patients will be required to wear a surgical bra for several weeks and will need to have their stitches removed anywhere from one to three weeks after breast reduction surgery. Patients will need about two weeks of recovery time before they can return to work and other non-strenuous activities. Below, we have provided more information about what to expect after breast reduction surgery.
Breast Reduction and Pain
It is common for patients to feel some discomfort for the first few weeks of the breast reduction recovery period, especially during the first few days. Coughing, sneezing, or any other rapid muscle contraction of the torso will exacerbate this pain. Additionally, the first menstrual period during breast reduction recovery will cause the breasts to swell and become tender. Your doctor will prescribe appropriate pain medication to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible while you recover. Though some discomfort is to be expected after surgery, many patients feel that the short-term pain associated with breast reduction surgery is negligible compared to the constant pain caused by particularly heavy breasts.
Following breast reduction, most patients will experience some altered sensation of the breast skin and nipple. Numbness of the nipple is common during the first three weeks and some women may experience hypersensitivity of the nipple-areola complex (NAC), the area of the breast that includes the nipple and surrounding pigmented skin. These are common side effects that typically resolve within 6-12 months following breast reduction surgery.
It is important to know that, in some cases, these altered sensations may be permanent. For women whose breasts are extremely large, the nipple may need to be completely removed to allow for relocation. This process, known as a free nipple graft, typically causes a permanent loss of sensation because the nerves attached to the nipple are completely severed during the procedure. As these nerves heal over time, some sensation may return. Talk with your surgeon about this and other breast reduction risks to ensure that you are fully informed about your procedure.
Other Side Effects of Surgery
Some bruising and swelling is to be expected and typically subsides within two to three weeks following breast reduction surgery. Some patients may experience itching, especially at the incision sites, as well as dry skin. A moisturizer may be applied to the breasts to alleviate itching and dryness; however, the incision sites should be avoided. Following all post-op instructions from your surgeon can minimize these side effects and speed the healing process.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view more breast reduction before and after photos.
Photo credit: Ramiro Morales, MD
Learn More about Possible Breast Reduction Side Effects
For more information about what to expect after breast reduction surgery, including side effects and pain, use the DocShop directory to locate a surgeon in your area. DocShop includes information about plastic surgeons across the United States who are experienced in breast reduction surgery.