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What to Expect during Breast Reduction Recovery

By Peter Fisher, MD on December 17, 2016


A woman covering her breasts with her arm and hand If large, oversized breast cause constant back or shoulder pain, or make you feel insecure, you may be considering breast reduction surgery. The breast reduction procedure can reduce the size of the breasts, enhancing your appearance, reducing pain, and improving your quality of life. When preparing for breast reduction surgery, it's important to plan for the recovery. For answers to your specific questions about breast reduction recovery, schedule a consultation with San Antonio, TX plastic surgeon Peter Fisher. For now, learn more about the general recovery process in this overview. 

The First Few Days after Surgery

Following breast reduction surgery, patients should expect to experience some pain, swelling, and bruising as a result of the breast tissues and muscles being manipulated and stretched during surgery. For most patients, the first few days after breast reduction surgery are the time that pain and discomfort are the greatest. Prescription pain medication is available to help ease pain and discomfort during this time.

Drainage tubes are sometimes placed to help reduce swelling by removing excess fluid that can collect as part of the healing process. Drainage tubes are typically removed a few days after surgery. Patients are advised to wear a special bra or elastic bandage over their medical bandages to help support the tissues, reduce swelling, and encourage healing. It is recommended that patients have a family member or friend stay with them during the first few days of recovery because moving around can be difficult and any heavy lifting and strenuous activity must be avoided.

The First Three Weeks after Surgery

Around one to two weeks after surgery, stitches are generally removed. Depending on personal healing times, some patients may be recovered enough to return to work a week after surgery but should refrain from strenuous activity. Most patients can return to work and their normal routines, excluding strenuous activity and heavy lifting, after two weeks.

Pain, bruising, and swelling often continue into the second week of recovery, but are generally less severe than during the initial recovery phase. Patients should continue to wear a surgical bra to help support the tissues and reduce swelling. Pain, bruising, and swelling should begin to diminish as the body heals. However, if pain or swelling grows worse, or is accompanied by redness or warmth, it may be a sign of infection and should immediately be brought to your physician's attention.

The Next Four Weeks to Several Months

Patients should be gentle with the breasts until fully recovered to allow the breasts sufficient time to heal and reduce the risk of complications, like reopening incisions or causing infection. With that said, most patients fully recover from breast reduction between four to six weeks after surgery. Although most patients are fully recovered within this timeframe, swelling may take several months to a year to fully resolve and reveal the final results of breast reduction surgery.

Schedule a Consultation

For more information about breast reduction surgery or recovery, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Fisher.

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