Breast reduction: Post-operative care and instructions

Breast reduction: Post-operative care and instructions

26th Feb 2021


Breast reduction surgery is performed by removing the part that is in excess in the mammary gland, as well as the connecting fat and skin tissue. After the procedure, the breasts will be more proportionate to the rest of the patient’s body. Technically, the procedure is the exact opposite of breast augmentation surgery. When breast augmentation is performed, the plastic surgeon will add more volume to the breasts by inserting implants, while during breast reduction, the volume is eliminated by surgical excision. 

When breast reduction is performed, the plastic surgeon can also work on making the breasts more alluring in general, correcting other imperfections such as breast ptosis, enlarged areolas, or asymmetries. 

The procedure is performed under general anesthetic and can last up to three hours and sometimes more, depending on the severity of the breast hypertrophy and the other aesthetic imperfections that need to be corrected. Because it is such a major and complex procedure, the post-operative care is crucial for the success of the surgery and to avoid severe complications. In this article, we will discuss a few details about the breast reduction procedure, as well as post-operative care and instructions. 

Breast reduction surgery

The procedure entails the excision of a part of the mammary gland that is in excess and also the fat and skin tissue with it. The procedure is performed to help women get relief from certain discomforts and even to improve their mobility and overall health condition. The aesthetics of the body is also improved as the features are more proportionate to each other. 

There is pressure that is put on the spine due to the excessive volume of the breasts. The neck, shoulders, as well as the back also suffer because of the weight of the breasts. Most bras won’t be able to offer proper support to breasts that are overly large, and this will result in constant pain. For women with overly large breasts, it is also rather common to suffer from a dermatological condition that occur on the inframammary fold, which can become chronic very early in the patient’s life. This happens because of the skin-on-skin rubbing that is permanent in the area, as well as constant perspiration and lack of air flow. This also makes it almost impossible for these dermatological conditions to be treated. 

If we were to compare breast reduction with a breast augmentation or a breast lift, the scars left behind after breast reduction can be more significant. Of course, this is different from patient to patient and dependent on the level of breast hypertrophy, ptosis and other imperfections. To minimize the appearance of the scars and make them less visible, the plastic surgeon will make recommendations about which products to use and when and how to conduct the post-operative care after breast reduction surgery. 

Avoiding complications

One of the most important aspects of the post-operative period is reducing the risks of developing a complication. Just like any other surgical procedure, breast reduction is associated with certain risks and complications. One of the things that the patient can do to ensure most complications are avoided is to choose a talented, experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon to play out the procedure. The plastic surgeon will not only perform the procedure to the highest standards, but he will also guide the patient and make the best recommendations for post-operative care.

Among the most severe complications that could occur after surgery are infection and wound dehiscence. Other side effects can occur in the first few weeks after the procedure, but they won’t affect the results or the wellbeing of the patient in most cases. These side effects are swelling and bruising, and potentially seroma and hematoma. Pain and discomfort are also normal to be experienced during the first week post-op. Taking the prescribed medication will help you be pain-free throughout the recovery period. 

The plastic surgeon will prescribe antibiotics for five days post-op for preventive purposes. The antibiotic treatment is meant to help you avoid getting an infection. The risk to develop an infection is higher in the first few days post-op, and proper hygiene is essential to avoid it. The medical staff will demonstrate how to take care of the surgical incisions to avoid infections. 

Wound dehiscence can occur in case of an infection, but also if the patient puts too much pressure on the incisions by lifting things or sleeping on the tummy. Smoking can cause wound dehiscence as a result of the lack of proper oxygenation to the tissues that were injured during the surgery. This is why the instructions are to strongly avoid lifting anything heavy for at least a month or two, not to sleep on the tummy for three weeks, and to avoid smoking for the same amount of time. Keep in mind that smoking should be ceased three weeks before the procedure to ensure a smooth and fast recovery process.

To get good results after breast reduction, patients are advised to wear a special post-op bra, just like in the case of breast augmentation. This special post-op bra can be a good quality sports bra. The condition is to be a good fit, made out of breathable material, that can give the breasts just the right level of support and compression. 

Drinking lots of water procedure and keeping a balanced regimen will help the body eliminate the residuals of the general anesthetic and help the patient resume daily activities sooner. 

Follow-up consultations 

After breast reduction surgery, patients might have to go home with drain tubes inserted on the sides of their breasts. This is usually the case only when the amount of tissue removed was considerable. The drain tubes can help to eliminate the blood and fluids that could otherwise accumulate on the incisions. 

If drain tubes are used, the patient will need to see the plastic surgeon in 24-48 hours after the surgery to have them removed. It is not safe to remove them at home and complications can occur. The first follow-up consultation with the plastic surgeon is usually scheduled within the first two days after the procedure, even if the patient doesn’t have drain tubes. If you were wondering why it might be important to see the plastic surgeon so soon after undergoing surgery, the reason is all about ensuring there are no signs of infection and the healing has started well. 

The next follow-up consultation with the plastic surgeon will be scheduled a week after the first one, and during this meeting, he will check the cicatrization process and if the incisions are healing nicely. Delayed wound healing or wound dehiscence can cause scars to be more visible, so this is why it is important to see the surgeon. Also, the surgeon needs to see if there are any signs of abnormal cicatrization. Treatment is available to minimize the appearance of the scars, even if the patient has a tendency to develop keloid or hypertrophic scars. 


Breast reduction is a plastic surgery procedure with more than an aesthetic goal. The procedure is performed to help patients get increased mobility and even increase the quality of their lives by eliminating the daily discomforts associated with having breasts that are too large for one’s anatomy. 

The post-operative care after breast reduction surgery is essential for the success of the procedure as it will help patients avoid severe complications. The most important instructions that need to be followed during the recovery period are not sleeping or lying on the tummy, avoiding hot baths, not smoking, and not lifting heavy objects from the floor. Most patients have a smooth and uneventful recovery after breast reduction surgery if they manage to follow the recommendations of the plastic surgeon to the letter.

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