What Is Normal Recovery After Breast Reduction Surgery?

By Dr Jake Lim – Plastic Surgeon | Updated: February 22, 2024

Breast Reduction Recovery: Common Myths and Normal Expectations

Breast reduction (Reduction Mammoplasty) is a surgical procedure that reduces the size of overly large breasts. The ultimate goal is to achieve a breast size in proportion with your body, thus eliminating the discomfort associated with excessively large breasts. It’s a procedure that could be the answer to the physical discomfort women with overly large breasts experience. But like any surgery, the breast reduction recovery process is a crucial part of the journey. In this blog, Sydney Plastic Surgeon Dr Lim will guide you through your recovery journey, dispelling common myths and setting appropriate expectations. Understanding the recovery process can help you prepare and manage your expectations, thus ensuring a smooth and efficient recovery.

Remember, each person’s breast reduction recovery process is unique. Therefore, the information provided here should be used as a general guide and not a definitive recovery plan. Always consult with Dr Lim for advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

Dr Lim’s 2024 Breast Reduction Guide

Breast Reduction Guide

Understanding the Breast Reduction Procedure and Incisions

Before discussing the recovery process, it’s important to understand the breast reduction procedure and incisions. Breast reduction surgery involves the removal of excess breast tissue, fat, and skin. Dr Lim may also resize the areola—the darker area surrounding the nipple—to suit the new breast size.

The surgical procedure will involve making incisions on your breasts. The pattern of these incisions for breast reduction depends on various factors, including your plastic surgeon’s technique, the amount of reduction required, and your personal preference. Common incision patterns include a circular pattern around the areola, a keyhole or racquet-shaped pattern around the areola and vertically down to the breast crease, or an inverted T or anchor-shaped incision pattern.

The understanding of these incisions is vital as it plays a significant role in your breast reduction recovery. The care and healing of these incisions will largely determine the success of your recovery.

Common Myths about Breast Reduction Recovery

There are numerous myths associated with breast reduction recovery that can cause unnecessary worry and unrealistic expectations. It’s vital to dispel these myths so you can focus on what’s really important—your recovery.

One myth is that you will be bedridden for weeks after surgery. This is not true. Most patients are up and moving a day or two post-surgery, with many returning to work within a week or two, depending on the nature of their job.

Another common myth is that the pain will be unbearable. While some discomfort is to be expected after surgery, severe pain is rare. Dr Lim will provide pain relief to manage any discomfort effectively.

The third myth is that the scars from the incisions will be highly visible. While scarring is inevitable with any surgery, most incision lines are concealed within the natural contours of the breast or the areola. Plus, there are various scar care treatments available to help minimise scar visibility.

What to Expect during Recovery

Understanding what to expect during your breast reduction recovery is crucial in managing your expectations and ensuring a smooth recovery journey. Once the surgery is complete, Prineo adhesive tapes and bandages will be applied to the incisions. A support bra may also be worn to minimise swelling and support the breasts as they heal.

In the first few days following surgery, you may experience some pain and swelling. These are normal symptoms during breast reduction recovery and can be managed with medication prescribed by Dr Lim.

It’s also important to note that you will not immediately see the final results of your breast reduction surgery. Swelling and changes in breast shape can occur for several months after surgery.

Breast Reduction Patient 1 — Front View
Breast Reduction Patient 1 — Front View

Tips for a Smooth Recovery

Your recovery is as important as the surgery itself. Here are some tips for a smooth breast reduction recovery. First and foremost, follow Dr Lim’s post-operative instructions diligently. This includes taking prescribed medications, attending follow-up appointments, and adhering to restrictions on physical activities.

Good nutrition is vital during recovery. A balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins can aid in wound healing and boost your energy levels. Hydration is also crucial. Drinking plenty of fluids can help flush toxins from your body and promote healing.

Rest and sleep are other essential elements of a successful recovery. Ensure you get plenty of sleep and take it easy, especially in the first week post-surgery. Gradually incorporate light activities into your daily routine as you start feeling better.

Care for Incisions after a Breast Reduction

Caring for your incisions after a breast reduction is a critical part of your recovery process. This is where your body starts to heal itself, and proper care can help minimise scarring and reduce the risk of infection.

Dr Lim will provide specific instructions on how to care for your incisions. This usually involves keeping the incision area clean and dry. You may need to apply topical ointments or take oral antibiotics to prevent infection.

Avoiding strenuous activities that could strain your incisions is also important. This includes heavy lifting or intense exercises. It’s also advisable to wear a support bra to help support your breasts and minimise tension on the incision lines.

When to Contact the Plastic Surgeon after Breast Reduction Surgery

Breast reduction surgery comes with expected side effects during recovery, such as swelling, bruising, and mild discomfort. However, there are certain symptoms and complications that are not considered normal and may indicate a problem. If you experience any of the following after breast reduction surgery, it’s essential to contact your plastic surgeon or seek medical attention immediately:

  • Excessive Pain: While some pain and discomfort are expected after surgery, severe or increasing pain not alleviated by prescribed pain medications can be a sign of complications
  • Foul-Smelling Discharge: Any discharge from the incision sites that has a foul odour can indicate an infection
  • High Fever: A fever, especially one above 38°C, can be a sign of an infection
  • Sudden Swelling or Asymmetry: While some swelling is normal, a sudden increase in swelling or one breast appearing significantly larger than the other can indicate a haematoma (a collection of blood) or seroma (a collection of clear fluid)
  • Prolonged Redness or Warmth: If the skin around the incisions or on the breasts remains red, feels warm to the touch, or becomes increasingly red over time, it may indicate an infection or issues with blood circulation
  • Skin Discolouration: Pale, bluish, or darkened skin can indicate compromised blood flow to the area, which requires immediate attention
  • Widening or Opening of the Incisions: If the incisions begin to separate or open, it can lead to complications and poor scarring
  • Continuous Bleeding: Some oozing or bleeding is expected in the initial days post-surgery, but continuous bleeding or soaking through dressings is not normal
  • Shortness of Breath or Chest Pain: These can be signs of a pulmonary embolism, a rare but serious complication where a blood clot travels to the lungs
  • Severe Nausea or Vomiting: While mild nausea can be a side effect of anaesthesia, severe or prolonged nausea and vomiting are not typical and should be addressed
  • Visible Stitches or Sutures: If any stitches or sutures become visible or start poking through the skin, they should be assessed by the plastic surgeon
  • Allergic Reactions: Signs like rash, hives, or difficulty breathing can indicate an allergic reaction to medications or materials used during or after surgery

FAQs about Recovery after Breast Reduction Surgery

FAQ breast surgery

Q. How often should I shower after breast reduction?

Patients are usually advised to wait at least 48 hours post-surgery before taking a shower. After that, gentle showers are permitted, but it’s essential to avoid letting the water stream directly hit the breasts. Always pat the incision areas dry gently and avoid submerging in baths or pools until fully healed.

Q. How long after breast reduction can I lift my arms?

  • Lifting arms fully or engaging in activities that require raising the arms above the head should be avoided for at least 2 weeks post-surgery. This helps prevent strain on the incisions and ensures proper healing.

Will I look thinner after breast reduction?

While the primary goal of breast reduction is to reduce breast size for comfort and health reasons, many patients find that their overall silhouette appears more balanced post-surgery. This can give the illusion of a slimmer figure, especially when wearing certain clothing.

Q. What is a good size for breast reduction?

The ideal size for a breast reduction varies from person to person, depending on their body frame, desired aesthetic, and medical needs. It’s essential to discuss your goals with Dr Lim, who can provide guidance on a size that will be both comfortable and proportionate.

Q. Can you bend after breast reduction?

Bending over should be done with caution in the initial weeks following surgery. It’s essential to avoid any movements that put strain on the chest or incision areas. If you need to pick something up, consider squatting rather than bending from the waist.

Q. Do you still have feeling in your nipples after breast reduction?

Some patients may experience temporary numbness or altered sensation in the nipples after breast reduction. While sensation can return over time, there’s a risk of permanent numbness. Discussing this concern with your plastic surgeon pre-operatively will provide a clearer understanding of potential risks and outcomes.

Further Reading about Breast Surgery with Dr Jake Lim

Medical References about Breast Reduction Recovery

About Dr Jake Lim

Highly qualified and experienced specialist plastic surgeon Dr Jake Lim focuses on facial plastic, cosmetic breast and body contouring after significant weight loss

Dr Lim creates the best possible plastic surgery results for his Australia-wide and international patients.

Dr Lim is passionate about making sure each and every patient has access to the right information about available treatments and procedures and is able to make well-informed decisions.

At My Klinik, patient safety, education and achieving optimal results are our top priorities.