Breast reduction, though a very common and safe procedure, is a major surgery that entails some recovery time. Patients undergoing the cosmetic surgery procedure should have a good idea of what to expect during the breast reduction recovery process so they can adequately prepare for it. Below you will find information about what to expect after breast reduction surgery, including information about scars and estimates for recovery time.
Breast Reduction Recovery Time
As with the recovery period following any type of surgery, breast reduction recovery will take time. To better prepare you for the recovery time, we have provided information on what to expect in the weeks and months following breast reduction.
The First Two Weeks
Some bruising and swelling are to be expected during the breast reduction recovery period, but will usually subside in a few weeks. A moisturizer may be used on the breasts to alleviate any itching and dryness, as long as it is not applied directly to the incision sites. Patients should carefully follow all post-op instructions from their doctors to minimize discomfort and speed up the healing process.
For the first two to three days after breast reduction surgery, the patient must wear an elastic bandage or a special surgical bra over gauze and dressings. Once the gauze and dressings are removed, the patient will continue to wear the surgical bra for the next several weeks of breast reduction recovery time. Stitches are typically removed one to two weeks after surgery.
Breast reduction patients are advised to avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous activity for several weeks after surgery. Most women, depending on their profession, can return to work within 10 to 14 days. Patients are instructed to abstain from sexual activity for a week or more, as sexual arousal can cause inflammation around the incisions.
The First Several Months
Any contact with the breasts should be gentle for four to six weeks following breast reduction surgery. Patients should be aware that their breasts may swell and become tender during the first menstrual period of the breast reduction recovery process. In addition, some women may experience sporadic pains for a few months, especially during menstruation. Your doctor can prescribe pain medication to alleviate these symptoms and make your recovery as comfortable as possible.
Altered sensations of the breast skin and nipple are common side effects following surgery. Numbness of the breast and nipple may be experienced by some women for up to a year following breast reduction surgery, while others may experience hypersensitivity of the breast area. It is important to keep in mind that, in some cases, these altered sensations may be permanent.
Because breast tissue is significantly disrupted during surgery, it may take six months to a year before all swelling subsides and the final breast reduction surgery results become apparent.
Breast Reduction Scars
Breast reduction scars are permanent and may appear lumpy and red for several months before fading to thin white lines. Incisions can usually be placed in locations that still allow patients to wear low-cut tops and swim suits. However, the appearance of breast reduction scars depends greatly on the surgical technique used.
Traditional breast reduction surgery uses an anchor pattern incision beginning under the breast and extending vertically up and around the nipple. Traditional breast reduction typically results in the most extensive scars of any of the techniques available. In vertical incision breast reductions, the incisions are made vertically from the breast crease up and around the areola, eliminating the horizontal incision across the breast crease that is made with the traditional technique. In some cases, a breast reduction can be performed using liposuction only. This “scarless” breast reduction requires only a single small incision through which the liposuction tube is inserted.
For some women, especially those who smoke, breast reduction scars may become wider over time. Patients should follow all post-op instructions from their doctor and monitor their incision sites for any appearance of infection during the breast reduction recovery time. Taking care of the incisions correctly and avoiding infection can help to reduce the appearance of breast reduction scars over time and shorten healing time.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view more breast reduction before and after photos.
Photo credit: Ramiro Morales, MD
Contact a Cosmetic Surgeon for More Information
For more information about the breast reduction recovery time, as well as the scars the surgery leaves behind, speak with an experienced cosmetic surgeon. Visit DocShop’s online directory of surgeons across the United States to locate a breast reduction surgeon in your area.