Breast reduction surgery reduces the size of the breasts while making them attractive in the ways you desire. With the added benefit of a lift, this surgery can relieve intense back and neck pain, uncomfortable rashes, and trouble finding clothes — all while leaving you with breasts you feel happy with.
While the surgery can be life-altering for many patients, there are a number of patients who are concerned with the recovery period. For this reason, we’ve outlined a description of breast reduction recovery week by week below.
Education is power, and if you are considering this surgery, the more you know about the recovery experience, the more prepared you’ll be with the procedure.
What to Expect After Your Breast Reduction Surgery
Breast reduction surgery is outpatient, which means you can go home on the same day as the procedure.
Depending on the extent of your reduction, these surgeries usually last two to three hours and take place in our accredited operating room — right here in Dr. Schulman’s office. Immediately after your procedure, you’ll go to our recovery room for one to two additional hours, and then you’ll be discharged to go home with a trustworthy friend or relative once you’re feeling alright.
The great news about breast reduction recovery is that it is very well tolerated by almost all patients. The pain is minimal, especially when compared to other surgeries such as breast augmentations or tummy tucks.
Some patients like to look up a breast reduction recovery week by week blog or video series before they undergo their procedure. It gives them a better idea of what to expect. We encourage this as these first-hand resources can be extremely helpful and insightful. Just remember that all patients are different, and every breast reduction surgery is unique, so your experience won’t necessarily be the same as someone else’s.
You are also free to ask Dr. Matthew Schulman any questions you may have at your consultation appointment or at any time before or after your procedure. He and his staff are here as resources for you and would be happy to hear your concerns and provide additional education about the recovery period.
For now, let’s take a closer look at what you can expect week by week during your breast reduction recovery.
Breast Reduction Recovery Week by Week
The first few days of your recovery may involve some discomfort — as well as swelling and bruising — but this should be minimal. For the most part, patients are able to manage discomfort during this time with over-the-counter meds Tylenol or Motrin.
The pain should go away quickly. Swelling, however, will linger for several months, and this is normal. During the first week of your recovery, you will be wearing a surgical bra, which Dr. Schulman will place on you immediately after surgery. It is also recommended that you wear loose-fitting clothing.
Within the first week of your recovery, you should be able to go back to many of your regular activities. Most patients are back at work or school (as long as these are not physically demanding), and frequent movement by way of walking is recommended.
Moving into week two of your breast reduction recovery, you will be able to take on some additional activities at this time, if you wish. This may include things like grocery shopping or spending more time on your feet, in general. You should continue to avoid vigorous exercise and continue to sleep on your back with your upper body slightly elevated.
At week 3, you should continue getting plenty of rest and sleep, eating right, and taking short daily walks (do only what feels comfortable). Attend your follow-up appointments, and be sure to ask questions if they come up.
Finally, depending on your surgery and recovery progress, Dr. Schulman may clear you to slowly return to an exercise regimen. Ease into physical activity, though, and don’t overdo it. Exerting yourself too much during this critical recovery period may cause complications and put your health at risk. It might also put your results at risk.
You may be still sore 4 weeks after breast reduction, but this is relatively uncommon. Most discomfort should have dissipated by now, and swelling will be down significantly as well (though you’ll still have some even at week 4). Your incision sites will be healed, and you should be feeling more like yourself again.
At this point, you should feel comfortable resuming all of your normal activities — from work or school to exercise and socializing. Do keep in mind that you may have residual swelling, however. So, the way your breasts look now might not be the way they’ll look in three or four months. Plan accordingly, and purchase bras and undergarments that are comfortable and not too constricting. You may end up sizing down in a few months.
Week 6 and Beyond
Congratulations — you’ve made it to the 6-week mark of your breast reduction recovery. At this point, you should feel like yourself again, but now, with smaller, more comfortable breasts.
Be sure to continue leading a healthy lifestyle, eating right, drinking plenty of water, exercising, and getting plenty of rest. As long as you’ve been following all aftercare instructions from your surgeon, it’s rare to experience complications after a breast reduction. Furthermore, the most common problems after breast reduction surgery would likely have occurred already in your recovery. So, if you’re six weeks post-op, all you have to look forward to are even better results.
FAQs: Breast Reduction Recovery
What is the most painful day after breast reduction surgery?
Breast reduction surgery is one of the least painful plastic surgeries patients can undergo. Breast tissue, fat, and skin are being cut into with this procedure, but these areas of the body don’t tend to have the worst pain when they are manipulated (pain usually results from muscle incisions or manipulation).
As a result, you won’t experience much pain, in general, after breast reduction surgery. With that said, the most pain you’ll likely have will be in the first few days after your operation. The vast majority of patients are able to manage their discomfort with over-the-counter medications such as Motrin or Tylenol.
How long does it take for breasts to drop after reduction?
When people say breasts “drop” after breast reduction surgery, what they’re really saying is that the breasts will eventually settle into place after the incisions have healed, all of the swelling has dissipated, and scar tissue has formed.
For your breasts to fully settle after this procedure, you must wait at least six months. For some patients, the entire recovery period (the time during which breasts fully drop and settle into place) may take up to nine months.
Can I lay on my side 3 weeks after breast reduction?
Patients will need to sleep on their backs for at least the first two weeks of recovery. This is so that you don’t strain, stretch, or twist your incision sites and so that the breasts heal evenly. Lying on your side may cause stretching on one side and not the other.
How long after breast reduction will I know my size for bras and undergarments?
Everyone heals at different rates, so it may take anywhere from six to nine months for your breasts to fully heal so that you can know your final bra and undergarment size. With that said, patients will have discussed what they want their bra size to be at their consultation appointment before surgery. Dr. Schulman is skilled at achieving the results he finalizes with his patients, so you can feel confident that your breasts will look and feel the way you expect them to after a full recovery.
How long is bed rest after breast reduction?
After breast reduction surgery, you shouldn’t have to be on bed rest for very long at all. While you may wish to lay down and relax for most of the day over the first few days of your recovery, you not only can get up and walk around right away, but you should. Frequent ambulation (movement) after surgery is highly beneficial for your circulation and can help reduce the chances of developing a blood clot and other potential complications.
Set Up Your Consultation Appointment Today
Whether you’ve always been unhappy with the size of your breasts or you’ve only recently come to realize that having smaller breasts could be beneficial to you, know that breast reduction surgery can be totally transformative for your life. Many women say they wish they got the surgery sooner because it’s benefited their lives in so many ways. Overwhelmingly, patients are satisfied with this procedure.
To learn more about breast reduction surgery and the recovery period, please feel free to contact our office in New York City at your earliest convenience. Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Matthew Schulman is one of the leading cosmetic surgery professionals in NYC and has performed countless breast surgeries for satisfied patients in New York and around the country.
Don’t wait to turn your life around with breast reduction surgery. Book your consultation appointment today.