Dissecting breast reduction recovery week by week

Dissecting breast reduction recovery week by week

08th Sep 2019



One of the most sought-after plastic surgery procedures among women with excessively large breasts is breast reduction surgery. The female breasts can enlarge as a result of factors like pregnancy, massive weight gain, genetics, and the use of certain medications. When the breasts expand beyond a certain threshold, the condition can cause physical and emotional pain for the patient. Breast reduction surgery can alleviate the symptoms of excessively large breasts by taking out the excess fat, glands, and skin from the breasts. 

Breast reduction is a highly invasive and traumatic procedure because it involves removal of skin, fat, and glandular tissue from the breasts. Like all invasive surgeries, the patient who gets breast reduction requires a complete recovery to achieve the desired results safely. Many patients wonder as to what they should expect in the weeks following the operation. In this article, I will dissect breast reduction recovery, week by week.


Breast reduction surgery and recovery

It is essential to know what breast reduction surgery involves so that you can set your expectations about the recovery process. Breast reduction surgery has an excellent record of reducing the size of overly developed breasts and alleviating the physical and emotional symptoms associated with the condition. Huge breasts create localized pain in the body, such as the neck shoulder, and back. These discomforts result from the extra weight of excessively large breasts. The extra weight comes from the excess glandular tissue and fat in the breasts. 

The goal of breast reduction surgery is to remove the excess fat and tissue from the breasts so that the weight of the breasts can be decreased, and hence the physical pain and emotional discomforts can be removed. Keep in mind that overly large breasts look abnormal and attract undesired attention and even bullying. They look aesthetically unpleasant and affect your overall body outline in negative ways.

Breast reduction surgery is performed under general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep throughout the procedure and feel no pain or discomforts. The plastic surgeon will make incisions on the breasts after the anesthesia is administered. The length and shape of the incisions depend on how large your breasts are and to what extent you desire to have them reduced.

After making the incisions, the surgeon will carefully remove the required amount of excess glandular tissue from the breasts. In the next step, he will remove the excess fat from the breasts, and if necessary, liposuction may also be used to remove the fat. Once the excess glandular tissue and fat have been removed, your breasts will be left with excess skin. If the skin is not removed, your breasts will appear saggy. To prevent breast sagging, the plastic surgeon will remove the excess skin that has resulted from the removal of the fat and glands from your breasts.

After the skin is removed, the surgeon will re-drape the remaining skin and the suture and close the incisions. This is where the surgery will conclude and your recovery will kick off. Recovery after breast reduction surgery can take many weeks because the operation will traumatize your body. Your breasts will be swollen and bruised. The recovery process plays a vital role in determining the results of the operation, besides ensuring your safety.

The patient must discuss the recovery process with the plastic surgeon in advance of the procedure. The primary recovery will take place during the first two weeks, whereas complete recovery can take up to six weeks or more. 


Week by week recovery after breast reduction

Week 1: The first week following breast reduction surgery is the most critical part of the recovery process. Your body will be in trauma from the changes that abruptly took place during the operation. Before you go home from the hospital, the plastic surgeon will give you instructions to be followed for a smooth and safe recovery. In the first week, you should not expect to do anything else than resting, sleeping, eating, and going to the restroom. However, you will be encouraged to take slow and short walks every few hours during this period. Also, you must wear the surgical bras instead of your regular bras, starting from the first weeks and continuing until you have fully recovered. 

While sleeping, be sure to avoid sleeping on your tummy as it can apply pressure to the incisions and result in incision opening, bleeding, and even infection. To have a smooth recovery, you must make arrangements for your household chores even before the operation. You will not be able to lift weight, do household stuff, and take care of your kids and pets. Also, you may experience pain in your breasts for a few days after the surgery. You can ask the surgeon to recommend you painkillers to cope with the pain. You should avoid work and instead focus on your recovery.

Week 2: By the second week, you may start to feel better; however, you still need to be careful. You cannot resume work until the end of the second week of your recovery. You may be told to stop taking any medications that were prescribed after the procedure. However, to keep you comfortable, the doctor may prescribe you ibuprofen and Tylenol until the end of the second week.

You should keep wearing your surgical bras and avoid sleeping on your abdomen throughout the recommended time. You should avoid driving because it involves arm movements that can apply pressure to your breasts and create complications. The fatigue may continue throughout the second week as well. The swelling will take more time to subside. You should avoid physical movements and take sufficient rest so that your body can work to heal the incisions and reduce the swelling. 

Week 3: The surgeon may allow you to resume work if your work does not involve physically strenuous activities. By this time, about 30 percent of the post-operative swelling will be gone, and you will regain much of your energy. The fatigue will subside, and you may resume sleeping on your abdomen; however, do not do so for more extended hours.

Your breasts have not fully healed and need more time. This can be overwhelming to many patients, but keep in mind that it is a tradeoff for the benefits of the surgery. You will still be exposed to many risks during this period, so keep in mind to be careful. You may resume driving during the third week; however, be cautious while driving as the incisions are still not strong enough to sustain strain and pressure. If you are on medications, you should avoid driving. You must also keep wearing the surgical compression bras. 

Week 4: You may fully resume your work, but still you will be required to wear the compression surgical bras. These bras are designed to reduce the swelling, speed up the healing process, and hold your breasts in place and prevent pressure to the breasts until they have fully healed. 

You can expect about 40 percent of the swelling to disappear by the end of the fourth week. You can do physical movements; however, you must avoid strenuous activities like doing household chores, lifting weight, exercises, jogging, etc. These activities tend to trigger complications like wound dehiscence, bleeding, and infection. 

Week 5 and 6: You will experience drastic improvements in your body and be able to do more physical movements and activities. However, strenuous activities are not allowed until the end of the sixth week. By the end of the fifth week, you will be able to feel and see the improvements in your breasts. The physical pain associated with overly large breasts will be gone or reduced by the end of the fifth week. After six weeks, you will be able to see and feel the full outcome of the procedure. You can resume physically strenuous activities like exercises, jogging, weight lifting, and household activities after the end of the six weeks of your recovery. 



Many women with excessively large breasts experience physical discomforts and emotional trauma. Overly large breasts create localized pain in the body and affect your physical appearance. Breast reduction surgery can effectively reduce your breasts; however, it is a highly invasive surgery. Many patients are curious as to what the recovery can be like after the procedure. Since the operation is traumatic, you should do your research and ask the surgeon about the recovery. In this article, I have explained as to what you can expect week by week during the recovery process that can extend to many weeks. I have also provided instructions about the care you should take. Be sure to follow these instructions so that you can recover quickly, smoothly, and safely. 


Share this article: