According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons’ latest plastic surgery statistics, breast reduction is the second most popular cosmetic procedure in the UK. If you’re thinking about undergoing breast reduction surgery, it’s normal to ask about the recovery process. Here is a breakdown of breast reduction recovery week by week.
Why Consider Breast Reduction Surgery?
Breast reduction surgery is recommended for someone who wants to reduce their breast size. Overly large breasts can lead to pain, discomfort and feelings of insecurity when in public. That’s where breast reduction surgery comes in. The procedure helps create smaller and firmer breasts that help improve proportions, appearance and confidence.
Like any other cosmetic surgery, breast reduction requires some time to recover. Your plastic surgeon should provide a personalised breast reduction recovery timeline during your initial consultation. Every patient’s recovery is unique and varies based on your current health, the size of the breasts, and whether other procedures are involved.
What is Breast Reduction Recovery Week By Week Like?
During a breast reduction surgery, excess breast tissue is removed to reduce the breasts’ size. A breast lift may also be performed to create a natural, youthful appearance. The surgery is performed on an outpatient basis under general anaesthesia. Here’s what you can expect during your breast reduction recovery week by week:
1 To 3 Days Post-Surgery
After returning home, you will likely wear a sterile dressing and a surgical bra to protect your stitches and incisions. You may also have some drains coming off the surgical area. Swelling is more prominent during this period which can cause discomfort. Avoid showering immediately after the procedure; you’re free to do it after 48 hours. Make sure you sleep on your back.
Week 1 Post-Surgery
Depending on your job, your doctor will advise you to take about 2 weeks off. Focus all your energy on eating healthy, sleeping, drinking lots of fluids and avoiding strenuous activities. During week one, it’s normal to experience mild to moderate discomfort. Take all the prescribed medication to minimise pain and risk of infection. Also, follow your surgeon’s post-surgical instructions when caring for your bandages and other dressings.
Week 2 Post-Surgery
Your breasts will still feel tender, and there will also be swelling and bruising. You might feel an urge to scratch the incision area, but don’t do it. By the second week, your doctor will remove your dressings. Wear your compression garment to help with the swelling and keep your new breasts in shape. Limit your salt intake and drink lots of fluids to minimise swelling.
2-4 Weeks Post-Surgery
Between weeks 2 and 4, you can return to normal activities, although some movements will result in minor discomfort. You will continue experiencing itching along the incisions. Swelling should have gone down considerably, but you’ll still need to wear a soft bra without any underwire. Keep off strenuous activities and heavy lifting.
4-6 Weeks Post-Surgery
After 4 to 6 weeks, your energy should have returned, and you should feel normal again. If your doctor used dissolvable stitches, they should be gone by this time. After this time, your doctor will likely give you permission to return to light exercise and soak in a bath. It should also be okay to wear your favourite underwire bra. After 6 weeks, you should feel comfortable enough to sleep on your back or side.
What is Long-Term Recovery Like After Breast Reduction Surgery?
Everyone’s body is different and heals at a different pace. Some patients feel completely fine by week 8, while for others, it can take 12 to 14 weeks to feel completely normal. You will continue experiencing numbness in the chest area for months to come. A skilled plastic surgeon will try and reduce scarring to the maximum and make it less noticeable.
Breast reduction scars fade over time. Depending on the surgeon’s technique, you will either have vertical scars, horizontal scars or both. The scars will remain red for about 6 weeks and may take about 6 months to heal fully. After 6 months, most scars appear white and flat.
While scarring won’t go away completely, there are things you can do to minimise the appearance of scars. They include:
- Avoid smoking to reduce the risk of post-surgical complications, which can magnify scarring
- Avoid strenuous activities that might put pressure on your incision
- Avoid exposing your incisions to the sun
- Wear sunscreen every time you want to go out
- Take lots of water
- Start scar treatment 6 weeks following the surgery
The most important thing is to ensure you give your body enough time to recover. Ultimately it all comes down to how well you follow your doctor’s post-surgical instructions.