What to expect during recovery after a breast lift

What to expect during recovery after a breast lift

29th Jul 2019



The breast lift is a major operation that is used to treat saggy breasts. When the female breasts become loose and droopy, they look aesthetically unwelcoming and lead to lower self-esteem for the patient. To overcome the problem, many women go under the knife with the expectation to restore their firmer and perky breasts. The procedure enhances the breasts and makes them youthful by removing the excess skin and fat, besides tightening the breast muscles and raising the nipples.

Even though the breast lift can effectively enhance your breasts, it involves significant incisions and surgical trauma. After the surgery, the patient is required to go through a recovery process. During this time, the incisions will heal and the surgical shock will subside. There are certain things that you can expect to happen during the breast lift. 


What to expect

After the breast lift, the patient must complete the recovery period. Doing so is critical to the achievement of your aesthetic goals more safely and smoothly. The primary recovery period after the breast lift comprises the first two weeks, whereas complete recovery can take six weeks. 

To understand what can be expected during the recovery period, you must acquaint yourself with how the surgery is performed and how traumatic it can be. The breast lift is performed under general anesthesia. It is an outpatient procedure, meaning that you will be allowed to go home a few hours after the surgery if your health remains stable.

After the administration of the general anesthesia, the patient will be unconscious and the surgeon will start the operation. The patient will not feel any pain or discomforts, nor will she make any movements or remember the operation. The doctor will make incisions on the breasts. Different types of incisions are used to treat different levels of sagging in the breasts. The plastic surgeon will examine your breasts during the pre-operative consultation and decide what incision technique will work best for you and help you achieve your aesthetic goals.

After making the incisions, the surgeon will tighten the separated breast muscles, which is a primary cause of breast sagging, by accessing them through the incisions. Secondly, the surgeon will raise the nipples by making another incision on the top portion of the areola and removing a tiny fraction of skin from there. Next, the surgeon will remove the excess skin and fat from the breast. In the last step, the surgeon will suture and close the incisions. Your recovery will begin right after the procedure. 


Post-operative swelling 

The breasts will swell as a result of the incisions and surgical trauma. The post-operative swelling is a natural reaction of your body against the injury it has gone through during the operation. Your body reacts against the trauma by creating a blister. It merely indicates that your body is healing.

The post-operative swelling after the breast lift will stay with you for many weeks and even months. The swelling will gradually dissipate. The results will not be entirely prominent unless the swelling has disappeared. What this means is that you should not expect the aesthetic improvements to emerge right after the surgery. You have to wait with patience to see the results. 


Drain cannulas

In the last step of the surgery and while placing the sutures, the plastic surgeon may place drain cannulas under the skin at the incision sites. The goal of the drain cannulas is to drain away any fluids that may be discharged at the incision site. The use of drain cannulas is vital because it helps prevent complications like seroma and hematoma. You may expect to have the drain cannulas attached to your breasts for a few days following the operation. 


Surgical compression bras

After the breast lift, you will see that bandages and dressings have been placed on the surgical wound. These are meant to expedite the healing process and prevent complications. The plastic surgeon will require you to wear a particular type of bra called surgical compression bra for many weeks after the procedure. You will be advised to avoid your regular bras throughout the recovery period. Instead, you must wear the compression bras for the time recommended by the surgeon.

Compression bras are mainly designed to help your breasts recovery quickly and safely. These bras will help reduce the swelling and speed up the healing process. They will also protect you from complications like infections. Furthermore, compression bars will hold your newly operated breasts in place until they get the natural strength to stay in the shape in which they have been carved. 


Pain and discomfort

It is normal to experience some degree of pain and discomfort in your breasts during the recovery period, especially during the first two days after the breast lift. The severity of the pain will depend on your pain tolerance level. Some patients can tolerate more pain, whereas others have a lower tolerance. In any case, the pain can be managed with oral painkillers recommended by your plastic surgeon.

The intensity of the pain in the breasts will decrease after the first 24 hours and will disappear within 2-3 days if there are no complications like infections. While making movements, you may feel more pain. It is essential that you avoid more physical movements and instead stay in bed for the first week following the operation. 


Risk of infections

One of the complications that many patients experience during the recovery period is an infection. The breast lift involves incisions on the breasts. The incisions expose you to possible diseases. The risk of disease is higher for patients with weaker immune systems. The plastic surgeon may prescribe antibiotics to be taken for some days after the surgery so that possible infections can be prevented. 

When a shallow infection happens, it can be treated with oral antibiotics. If the infection is deep, you will be required to get IV antibiotics. However, the good news is that the risk of disease is lower, thanks to the advent of new surgical technologies and techniques. But it cannot be entirely ruled out. To prevent possible infections, the patient must not touch the surgical wound or let any other unauthorized person touch it. Also, you must keep the wounds clean. 


Work and physical activities

You will be required to avoid work for two weeks after the surgery. Physical labor can trigger complications like wound dehiscence and bleeding. Instead of working, you should spend more time resting in bed to help your incision heal quickly. The first two weeks are crucial for your recovery. However, complete recovery will take six weeks. You must avoid physically strenuous activities for six weeks. 



Sleeping after the breast lift can be overwhelming for the patient. You will be advised to avoid sleeping on your front for the first two weeks following the procedure. Sleeping on your front will apply pressure and strain to the breasts, which can cause wound spitting, bleeding, and infection. To avoid these conditions, you must follow the surgeon’s instructions and not sleep on your front for the recommended period. 



While you may have the urge to resume driving as soon as possible, most plastic surgeons don’t allow patients to drive for the first 2-3 weeks after the surgery or until you are taking medicines. Driving involves arm movements and even bumps, which can apply pressure to your breasts and trigger complications. 


Short and slow walks

Even though you will be advised to avoid physical activities right after the surgery, you will be encouraged to take short and slow walks every few hours during the recovery period. This is important because it will prevent complications like blood clotting and constipation resulting from inactivity.


Physical exercises

Doing physical exercises and workouts are not allowed for six weeks. Physical activities apply pressure to the surgical wounds, which can result in complications. You should wait for six weeks before resuming exercises. When you finally restart your workouts, be sure to do so gradually and carefully.



The breast lift is one of the most invasive and major operations. The procedure can effectively enhance your saggy breasts by making them firmer and perky, but you must go through a complete recovery process. You will be expected to follow the plastic surgeon’s instructions. The recovery period is critical to the achievement of your aesthetic goals smoothly and safely. In this article, I have explained the things you should expect during the recovery period after the breast lift. If you want to know more about the recovery process, you should consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon. 


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