How Long Does It Take To Recover From a Breast Reduction?

Breast reduction surgery is both a cosmetic and reconstructive procedure that removes excess fat, skin, and breast tissue from the chest to make the breasts smaller.

There are a few different reasons someone may choose to undergo breast reduction surgery, including:

  • Skeletomuscular stress that results in poor posture.
  • Difficulty finding comfortably-fitting bras (and, in many cases, even properly fitting bras may leave deep grooves in the shoulders or back.)
  • Rashes from the breasts constantly rub against the skin.
  • Difficulty with exercise, such as needing to wear multiple sports bras for adequate support or trouble breathing due to large breasts restricting the diaphragm’s natural movements.

Whether you choose to undergo breast reduction surgery for aesthetic purposes or to reduce back and neck pain, it is still a major surgical procedure.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From a Breast Reduction?

For best results, be sure to closely follow your board-certified plastic surgeon’s pre-and post-operative instructions.

Preparing for Surgery

The better you prepare in the days and weeks before your surgery, the better the healing process will be.

You will need to make arrangements for any household help you will need during the recovery period, such as driving to and from your procedure, caring for pets and children, and helping with meals and other household tasks.

Your plastic surgeon will also ask you about any prescription pain medications you currently take, and advise you accordingly. For example, aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications should not be taken until you are told otherwise.

Additionally, smoking can significantly impair your body’s ability to heal from breast reduction surgery. You must quit the habit at least four weeks before your procedure or surgery can be performed.

Prepare a comfortable recovery space, too, whether it’s a room in your home or a hotel near your plastic surgeon’s office.

How long it takes to recover from breast reduction surgery

Following your plastic surgery procedure, you may notice instant relief from any back, neck, or shoulder pain that was caused by having large breasts. Keep in mind that recovery from breast reduction surgery can take anywhere from two to six weeks.

While recovery times can vary depending on the extent of the breast reduction surgery (i.e., whether you went down one cup size or three), here is what you can generally expect as part of the healing process:

The first days after surgery

During the first one to three days post-surgery, rest should be your priority. You will likely feel more tired than usual. This can be expected, as your body does a great deal of healing while you are asleep.

After the first 24 hours, try to start moving a bit to reduce your risk of developing blood clots, but keep things slow and gentle. Avoid strenuous activity, and take breaks when you need to. Start by taking walks up and down your hallway, around your house, and eventually, outdoors.

One week after surgery

After a week, you will likely have regained some of your energy. Use this to take longer walks to increase circulation and blood flow to the surgery site while still avoiding any strenuous activity and heavy lifting.

Depending on the extent of your surgery (and the physical demands of your job), you may feel ready to return to work. This may be fine if you have a sedentary job, but it’s always a good idea to talk to your plastic surgeon to be sure.

One month after surgery

After one month, you may be cleared to resume most of your daily activities, except vigorous exercise. You will also want to avoid stretching, reaching, heavy lifting, or anything else that directly affects your chest area.

Even if you’re feeling fine and are looking forward to wearing tight-fitting clothing that would not have fit before, at this time you should continue to wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid chafing or irritation at the surgery site.

Six weeks after surgery

After six weeks, you can expect to be fully healed for the most part, though you should still take it easy if you feel any pain or discomfort. At this point, you should be able to resume normal activities such as sleeping on your side, taking baths, and finally, wearing new underwire bras and tighter-fitting clothing. Unrestricted exercise can resume as well.

How to speed up recovery

Much of your recovery period will simply involve being patient as your body goes through its natural healing process. That said, there are some steps that you can take to ensure a smooth, efficient recovery process.

Stay hydrated, drinking plenty of water. In addition to being good for your overall health, hydration is also crucial for helping your skin heal and regenerate. It also keeps your blood pressure at healthy levels, reducing added stress on your body.

During the recovery period, you may be tempted to indulge in some of your favorite comfort foods—but it is important to nourish your body with plenty of healthy snacks rich in protein and vitamins, like fruit, vegetables, and yogurt, to help it heal.

Of course, it is worth reiterating the importance of sleep. During this time, do not be afraid to sleep more than usual to allow your body to do the healing it needs to do.

Consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon

Whether you are considering a breast reduction procedure to relieve neck and back pain or to achieve your desired aesthetic, the first step is to consult with a professional who can offer personalized insight as to how to best prepare and what to expect during the recovery period.

About The Author:

Stacey Smith is a freelance health writer. She is passionate about writing about women’s health, dental health, diabetes, endocrinology, and nutrition and provides in-depth features on the latest in health news for medical clinics and health magazines.

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