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Breast Reduction Recovery & Aftercare

Breast reduction surgery is often described as having the weight of the world lifted. Not from your shoulders, but from your chest – both literally and figuratively.

After a patient has had a reduction and their breasts have settled nicely into place, most women are pleased that they went forward with the surgery and regret not having done it sooner. In fact, this surgery is consistently cited as one of the highest patient satisfaction in cosmetic procedures. That’s certainly the case among my patients.

But what is the journey to post-operation satisfaction like?

Whether you’re planning to get breast reduction surgery or you’re still on the fence, you’ll need to know exactly what to expect afterwards – from recovery to aftercare.

Fortunately, that’s where this guide comes in. Let’s get started!

Breast Reduction Recovery Process

Recovery following a breast reduction can be split into different phases. Each phase requires different care strategies and precautions to ensure the best possible outcome.

In the first phase, immediately after the operation, the focus is on managing discomfort and reducing the risk of infection. You will usually be provided with either a surgical bra or elastic bandage, which you will need to wear for about a week. If necessary, you may need to go home with drainage tubes, though we generally don’t use them. You’ll likely need help around the house during this time, as movement can be painful.

In the medium term, we focus on monitoring healing, managing scarring, and gradually returning to normal activities. You will typically wear a gently compressive sports bra for about six weeks during this phase, and your sutures will gradually dissolve. You should also avoid any strenuous exercise for at least 21 days, but normal activities can usually resume afterwards.

In the long term, patients fully resume daily activities, complete the healing process, and start to fully appreciate the final results of their surgery. Your new breasts will continue shaping for around six months.

If you’re happy with the results – excellent. And if not, it’s always possible to make adjustments.

Aftercare Following Breast Reduction

After undergoing breast reduction surgery, a carefully planned aftercare regimen is essential for recovery, comfort, and the optimal outcome of the procedure. Here’s how to care for yourself after surgery:
  1. Pain Management: Patients will typically experience discomfort and swelling. Pain medication will be prescribed to help manage. It’s important to follow the dosage instructions carefully.
  2. Wound Care: Dressings or bandages will be applied to the incisions, and patients are usually required to wear a support bra to minimize swelling and support the breasts as they heal.
  3. Activity Restriction: Rest is crucial. Patients should avoid strenuous activities, heavy lifting, and overextending themselves for the first few weeks after surgery.
  4. Follow-Up Appointments: Regular check-ups with the surgeon are necessary to ensure the incisions are healing properly and to monitor for any potential complications.
  5. Massaging: Once the incisions have sufficiently healed and the surgeon gives the go-ahead, gentle massage can be beneficial. Massaging can help to soften and flatten the scar, promote better circulation, and may aid in reducing swelling and improving the range of motion. You must wait until the surgeon confirms that the healing process has progressed enough to begin massaging, as starting too early can disrupt the healing. Read on for some advice on massage technique.
  6. Gradual Resumption of Activities: Light activities can be slowly reintroduced as comfort permits. It’s important to listen to your body, though, and not rush back into the gym.
  7. Physical Therapy: Some patients may benefit from physical therapy to strengthen the back and improve posture, which can be affected by years of living with larger breasts.
  8. Lifestyle Adjustments: Maintaining a stable weight and a healthy lifestyle supports the long-term results of the surgery and overall well-being.

Massage After A Breast Reduction

Breast massage after breast reduction surgery is important for several reasons. It can help to:

  • Reduce swelling and bruising
  • Break up internal scar tissue
  • Improve blood flow to the area
  • Promote healing
  • Make the breasts feel more natural and comfortable

You can start massaging your breasts after your incisions have healed and you’ve been given the okay by your doctor – usually after a post-surgery check-in. You should massage your breasts for several minutes at a time, three or four times a day, and follow these instructions:

  • Use gentle, circular motions.
  • Apply light pressure.
  • Do not massage over any incisions.
  • Feel free to use a moisturizer or massage oil to help your hands glide over your skin.
  • If you experience any pain, stop massaging and get in touch with your doctor.


What about scars?

When it comes to breast reduction, patients are naturally concerned about the appearance of scarring post-surgery.

In every surgical procedure, there will be scarring, but many patients worry about how visible the scars will be. This is completely normal. We take great strides to minimize the cosmetic impact of the scars, but it is inevitable that they will be present. Your genetics plays a crucial role in the scarring and healing process.

To help, I’ve written an entire blog post on the scars after a breast reduction procedure, and how you can minimize them.

Can breast tissue grow back?

Simply put, yes, the breasts can grow in size after reduction surgery.

It’s not common, but it can happen in the right circumstances. To learn more about it, check out my blog on the subject: Can Breast Tissue Grow Back After Breast Reduction Surgery?

Will I be able to breastfeed after breast reduction surgery?

With standard breast reduction surgery, breastfeeding is possible but not a guarantee. The reason is due to incision points. For more information, read our guide to breastfeeding with implants, which also applies to a reduction. 

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