Breast Reduction Surgery

Recovery Timeline

Jonathan Corke

by Jonathan Corke

Published: October 13th, 2020

Exercising after surgery

Breast Reduction Surgery: Recovery Journey

Like any surgical procedure, there is no one-size-fits-all recovery timeline. Every person’s body is different and reacts differently to an operation.

For some patients, they can find themselves ahead of the recommended recovery schedule and notice rapid improvements in mobility and a reduction in pain quite early on. Others may find that they still feel pain for several weeks or even months after their surgery.

Whichever description best fits you and your experiences, you should know that both can be entirely normal. There are many factors which can explain a quicker or slower recovery.

You should inspect your scars and the treatment area regularly to make sure you are not experiencing any surgical complications or infections. Also, make sure are honest with yourself and honest with your surgeon in any follow-up consultations. That way, you can receive the most personalised and tailored advice for your situation. Nevertheless, in this article, we are providing you with a broad and general journey of recovery. While we understand that it may not always be completely accurate for each patient’s real-life recovery journey, it still presents good general estimates into when you can expect to engage in activities again and when life can return to normal.

Our Personal Care Advisers are always at hand to help you and answer any questions you may have along your recovery journey, but let this be a guideline for what to expect after breast reduction surgery.

1-2 days after surgery

  • The anaesthetic will still be in your system, you may feel drowsy and lethargic
  • The treatment area and the wounds will be sore
  • Bruising and swelling is to be expected
  • The swelling will lead to a large and ‘projected’ appearance, this will settle over time
  • Bathing and showering must be done very carefully - usually, you will be advised to bathe with warm soapy water and a sponge for the first 72 hours
  • The skin around your breasts may feel tight
  • Wear your post-operative bra, both during the day and over night
  • Stay rested during this time
  • Drink plenty of water and clear fluids

3-4 days after surgery

  • Pain medication will likely still be necessary - listen to your body
  • Very light activities will now be possible again, short walks around the house are recommended to prevent blood clotting
  • Some stretching and movement may now be possible, but don’t push yourself
  • Check out our guide on post-operative stretches and exercises to know what you can and cannot do during this time
  • Avoid rigorous movement and sexual activities, even sexual arousal can irritate the incisions
  • Continue to wear your post-operative bra
  • Sleep in an upright positive with plenty of pillow support to help reduce the stress on your breasts and reduce swelling

1-2 weeks after surgery

  • Keep your wounds clean and inspect them regularly
  • White tape (steri-strips) will be removed within the first 10 days
  • Mobility remains difficult and possibly painful, do not engage in strenuous exercise or do any heavy unnecessary lifting
  • Tingling, swelling and numbness are all still typical symptoms during this time
  • Pain medication may still be necessary throughout this time
  • You may now engage in sexual activities again
  • Continue to wear your post-operative bra

3-4 weeks after surgery

  • Pain and swelling will have mostly passed
  • You may now stop wearing your post-operative bra, continue to do so if you wish or if your surgeon recommends
  • Begin engaging in light activities and exercises like walking, cycling or treadmills
  • Continue to avoid ball sports, contact sports or rigorous movement
  • Give your scars the proper attention and care: keep them clean, dry and away from sunlight
  • Altered sensations on the skin are still possible, your breasts and nipples may still feel numb

6 weeks onwards

  • Adjust your sleeping position back to normal if it is comfortable for your breasts
  • Pains may still occur, but less frequently and severely than before
  • Swelling may also still occur, particularly during your menstrual cycle when swelling and soreness is natural
  • Heavy lifting may now be possible, It may now be possible to lift heavier items such as suitcases and grocery bags Although it is essential not to push yourself, even after 6 weeks
  • Workouts do not rush into things - you could otherwise undo all that hard work throughout your recovery!

3-6 months onwards

  • Ball sports and contact sports may be possible but you should only engage in what feels comfortable for your breasts and for the treatment area
  • Numbness and a lack of sensation around the nipple may still occur, it can take up to a year for this to pass
  • Swelling may, in some instances, still be apparent
  • It can take up to 6 months to see the final results

If you want to find out more about the breast procedures that we offer please check our Breast Surgery page.