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What to expect while recovering from breast reduction surgery

Dr Hanikeri offers a range of surgical procedures for the breasts, body and face.

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After breast reduction surgery, your breasts will change over time. Learning how to care for your scars, how to manage your discomfort, and when to resume your exercise and other activities will help you to achieve the best possible post-surgical outcome.

About breast reduction surgery

Breast reduction is a procedure which is usually performed by Plastic Surgeons under General Anaesthesia. It reduces the size of your breasts and therefore alleviates the symptoms which arise from having large breasts.  These include neck and back pain, shoulder pain, indents in the shoulders caused by bra straps, rash under the breasts and difficulty with clothes and exercise.

How long does it take to heal from a breast reduction?

Every patient is unique and their recovery determined by circumstances such as their profession and overall health. Generally, the recovery from breast reduction surgery takes between 8 and 12 weeks.

How do I prepare for a breast reduction?

There are several steps you can take before the procedure is performed to ensure that the immediate post-surgery recovery goes as smoothly as possible.

Your surgeon and his team will work with you to ensure you are well prepared for the procedure and recovery, though there are steps that you can take yourself to ensure it goes smoothly.

These include:

  • Taking an appropriate amount of time off work after the surgery to recover.
  • Arranging for someone to drive you home from the hospital.
  • Have someone to assist you around the house for a week after the procedure.
  • Prepare meals and groceries before the procedure so you will not need to do this immediately following the procedure.
  • Shop for items you will need for the first month after surgery, to avoid the pain which might come with having to go out whilst not feeling well.
  • Arrange your bedroom so that items such as water and snacks are easy to reach.
  • Find your comfy pyjamas and clothes (preferably button up or zip ups, something that does not require you to raise your arms above your head), as you will want these after surgery.

The first day after surgery

After the General Anaesthesia wears off, you will wake up with nurses ready to provide any post-operative care you may need during your stay in hospital. Your surgeon will also give you after care instructions you need to follow. 

Your breasts will be covered by dressings and a support bra, you will also have drainage tubes at this point. These will be present for a day or so after surgery. Your breasts will appear swollen at this stage.

All you have to do is rest, relax and recuperate.  This will allow you to heal faster and reduce risk.

The first week post-surgery

It is highly advisable that you have a friend or family member present to help you during the first week of your recovery as they may need to assist you with a range of household tasks including helping you to wash and bathe. At this stage, it may also be painful for you to raise your arms.

You should start walking slowly around your house to get blood flow going. You should also avoid smoking and drinking alcohol for the first few weeks, as these can hinder the healing process and lead to poor results.

The second and third weeks post-surgery

In the second week of recovery from your breast reduction procedure, your breasts will still feel tender, and have a level of swelling and bruising present. You may want to scratch the incision at this point as it heals and becomes drier, but you should avoid this. Your dressings will also be removed at this stage, but you should continue to wear the compression bra as it will help with swelling and keep your breasts in the desired shape and contour. You can start scar management with light therapy and topical silicone at this stage if the wounds are healing well.

The first month after surgery

By this stage, you should feel fairly normal. Depending on your occupation and the opinion of your surgeon, you may resume normal duties. You will also be able to return to many activities around the house such as basic chores.

Additionally, you will also start to feel the benefits of breast reduction surgery at this stage, as the neck and back pain that comes with having heavy breasts will be reduced. Clothes will start to fit better, and you will be able to move around more freely.

The second month after surgery

At this stage, with the permission of your surgeon, you will be able to return to your normal exercise routine and wear the clothes of your choice. Your surgical bra can be weaned to a normal bra at this stage though your surgeon may advise that you continue to wear this for at least another month. You should continue to wear the surgical bra when sleeping.

Long term considerations for breast reduction recovery

Some patients may experience hypersensitivity or numbness in the nipples and breasts for up to a year after breast reduction surgery. Some patients may not experience any of these sensations.  

The breasts may swell and become tender during the first menstrual cycle after the procedure. There may also be sporadic pain during menstruation for several months after the procedure.

Surgical scar healing may be different from patient to patient. There will be visible scars that fade over time but will not disappear completely. It may take over twelve to eighteen months for the scars to fully settle.

Breast reduction in Perth

Dr Mark Hanikeri is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon who is experienced in performing plastic surgery procedures such as breast reduction. If you are considering a breast reduction, we recommend that you seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner by having a consultation with Dr Hanikeri.

If you would like to find out more about breast reduction and the techniques that Dr Hanikeri uses, please have a look here.

Besides performing breast reduction surgery, Dr Mark Hanikeri also offers several other cosmetic surgery procedures designed to enhance one’s appearance. To find out more about these treatments, please contact Dr Hanikeri here.