Breast reduction is a surgical procedure that removes excess fat, skin and glandular tissue from the breasts. It can also reduce the size of the areola, which is the dark skin around each nipple.
Breast reduction surgery is a major procedure, and recovery can take some time. While the procedure itself may only take one to two hours, you’ll need to allow several weeks of rest and recovery before you can resume most normal activities.
Breast reduction surgery can improve your physical health by reducing back pain and neck aches caused by large breasts. It may also help relieve shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and sleep apnea.
Following a breast reduction, there is some discomfort and swelling. This can be expected to last for several weeks, but the pain will decrease over time. Your doctor will advise you on how to manage your recovery and when you can resume normal activities.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common questions about breast reduction recovery.
Here are some tips to help you stay healthy during breast reduction recovery:
1. Protect Your Incision – Keep Clean and Moisturized
If you’re feeling well enough, take a shower before going to bed. Apply an antibiotic ointment over the incision before putting on a clean bandage. While taking a shower, be sure to wash the incision area with soap and water. Be gentle with your breasts while washing them and keep them covered while drying off.
When it comes to bathing, take it slow. A bathtub may be more comfortable at first than a shower but limit baths to under 10 minutes.
Don’t soak in a tub or swimming pool for at least 6 weeks after breast reduction surgery. Also avoid hot tubs, hot showers and saunas for 6 weeks post-op. Soaking in water can cause your surgical sites to open up or leak fluid from the incisions, which could lead to infection and swelling around your nipple area or underarm areas where drains were placed during surgery.
2. Stay Hydrated – Drink plenty of water, and avoid beverages that are dehydrating.
Water is essential for healing and staying well. Drink a glass of water every time you get up to go to the bathroom, even if you don’t feel thirsty. This will help prevent dehydration, which can cause headaches and dizziness.
3. Move Around
You’ll be lying flat on your back for several hours after surgery, so it’s important to get up and move around as soon as possible after the procedure. Moving around will help prevent blood clots and prevent swelling in your legs and feet from becoming too severe. The nurse or doctor who performs your surgery should give you specific instructions about when and how much movement is appropriate after surgery, but in general, try not to sit or lie down for long periods of time for at least three days after surgery — especially when sitting down or lying down on your stomach.
4. Be Gentle With Yourself
Breast reduction is a major procedure and it’s going to take some time for your body to heal. It’s important to be gentle with yourself as you recover from your surgery. Take some time off from work or other commitments if possible so that you can rest and recover without worrying about anything else. Consider hiring someone to help with tasks around the house if needed so that you don’t have to worry about doing too much too soon after surgery.
5. Get Some Rest – Do rest when you need to rest.
Do rest when you need to rest. Don’t try to do too much too soon after surgery. Make sure that you get plenty of rest so that your body can heal properly and completely. Your surgeon will give you instructions on what is safe for you to do after surgery and what isn’t. Follow these instructions carefully so that you don’t put yourself at risk of complications or further injury because of overexertion before your body has had time to recover properly from the surgery itself.
6. Wear The Surgeon Recommended Bra
Following your procedure, you’ll likely need a non-underwire bra that provides support while allowing room for swelling and mobility. Your surgeon will recommend one, but if he or she didn’t give you one, ask your surgeon to write down his or her recommendation on prescription paper so your caregiver knows which bra to purchase for you.
7. Eat Healthy, Balanced Meals – Don’t let yourself get too hungry.
Don’t let yourself get too hungry. Eat small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. This will help keep your blood sugar levels stable and prevent nausea or vomiting when you’re feeling under the weather.
8. Follow Doctors Orders
The most important thing to do during your recovery is to follow your doctors orders and take it easy. You want to make sure that your body heals properly and that there are no complications from the surgery. Be sure not to lift anything heavy or do any activity that could cause strain on your body while it’s healing. If a doctor tells you not to do something, don’t do it!
9. Take It Easy For The First Few Days
It is recommended that you take it easy in the first few days after breast reduction surgery. You should avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for at least one week following the procedure. This should help minimize swelling, which can make it difficult for the doctor to evaluate the results of the procedure.
10. Use Ice Packs As Needed For Discomfort
You may be given an ice pack to use after surgery. This can help reduce swelling, pain and bruising. Ice packs should be used for 15-20 minutes at a time, every hour or so. If your doctor gave you more than one ice pack, use the first one for half an hour then apply the second one for another half hour.
11. Avoid Activities That Put Stress On The Chest Area
During breast reduction recovery, it is important that you avoid activities that put stress on the chest area. This includes any activity that requires heavy lifting or straining your arms or shoulders such as gardening or sports involving throwing motions. You also want to avoid any activities that involve bending over or reaching for something above shoulder level for at least three weeks after surgery. You may resume these activities once your doctor gives you the green light but be sure not to overdo it if they cause pain or discomfort in the chest area.
12. Go out and get some fresh air.
The most important thing you can do for yourself during breast reduction recovery is get plenty of rest. This means sleeping as much as you need to, even if that means sleeping in on the weekends or taking an afternoon nap while others are out shopping or going to work. You’ll be better able to enjoy life if you’re not constantly exhausted and running on empty.
13. Consider getting a massage
Massaging your breasts and surrounding tissues can help reduce swelling and bruising after breast reduction surgery. Massage therapy also improves circulation and lymphatic drainage — both of which are important for healing after surgery. Focus on areas of your body that are swollen or bruised, such as your upper arms, chest and back.
14. Take care of your skin while it’s healing.
The skin around your breasts is often very sensitive and delicate after breast reduction surgery. You should avoid using any harsh products or cosmetics on your skin during this period. Keep away from anything that contains alcohol, perfume or other chemicals as these can cause irritation to your skin and even develop scars in the area. The best thing you can do for yourself is to use mild soaps on your body and soft cotton clothes that don’t rub against your body too much, especially when changing clothes or moving around in bed at night when sleeping.
15. Try not to smoke.
Smoking is a major risk factor for breast cancer, and it can make recovery from breast reduction surgery more difficult. Nicotine causes constriction of blood vessels, which results in less blood flow to the body. This decrease in blood flow can cause lower oxygen levels and increased pain. If you smoke, it’s important to quit before and after your surgery. If you need help quitting, ask your doctor or surgeon for advice on how to do so safely.
16. Take Your Medications
The doctor who performs your breast reduction surgery may prescribe medications to help relieve pain and swelling from surgery. Make sure that you take these medications exactly as directed by your doctor. If you have any questions about the medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking them.
17. Try to Reduce Your Stress
Stress can cause your body to release hormones that make it difficult for your body to heal from surgery. You should try not to worry about things that aren’t important during breast reduction recovery. If you’re having trouble relaxing, try yoga or meditation, or go for a walk in nature.
18. Don’t drive while on pain meds.
If you take prescription medications for pain after surgery, ask your doctor if it’s okay to drive while on them. She may recommend that you avoid driving until the effects of the painkillers wear off completely — which could be several days after surgery.