When will the swelling after breast reduction completely disappear?

When will the swelling after breast reduction completely disappear?

22nd Apr 2018

The breasts are considered to be the signs of femininity and physical beauty in women. It is natural for women to desire to get bigger, shapelier, and voluptuous breasts so they can look aesthetically appealing and sexy. However, in some women, the breasts grow to become overly large due to factors like genetics, weight gain, use of certain medicines, etc. Overly large breasts not only look aesthetically unpleasant but also create physical pain and discomfort for the patient.

Breast reduction surgery is a popular intervention that decreases the size of overly large breasts by surgically taking out the excess fat, tissue, and skin. The procedure is invasive and involves incisions. After the procedure, the patient will experience many temporary side effects. The post-operative swelling is one such side effect of the procedure. Your breasts will swell after the surgery as a result of the surgical trauma.

Swelling after breast reduction surgery

Breast reduction is a major intervention. The surgery, which is performed under general anesthesia, involves incisions and severe trauma. After administering the anesthesia, the plastic surgeon will start the operation by making incisions on the breasts. The length and number of incisions depend on how large your breasts are and to what extent you want to reduce their size.

After making the incisions, the doctor will surgically remove the excess glandular tissue from the breasts, along with the excess fat. It is pertinent to mention that the breasts are made primarily of glandular tissue and fat. When they exceed in amount, it causes the breasts to enlarge.

After removing the tissue and fat, excess skin will appear. It is also important to remove the skin, so breast sagging after the surgery can be prevented. The surgeon will remove the excess skin from the breasts and also remove and graft the nipples at a higher position where they can appear youthful and perky.

In the last step, the plastic surgeon will re-drape the remaining skin and suture and close the incisions. Your recovery will start right after the surgery. During the recovery period, you will feel and notice many side effects of the surgery. The post-operative swelling is a major side effect of the breast reduction surgery. So why does the swelling happen in the first place?

The swelling after surgery occurs due to the surgical trauma your breasts experience during the operation. The surgeon will cut the skin and tamper with the natural arrangement of the breast tissues, blood vessels, and nerves during the procedure. Your body reacts to these traumatic events by generating collagen and swelling. The swelling primarily happens due to the collection of a yellowish fluid called serum at the site of the incision. It is normal for the incisions to accumulate serum, so your breasts can heal normally. Another cause of the swelling is the use of extra fluids like IV fluids for the intervention or due to substances like dye used for the surgery.

Many first-time surgery patients panic when they see swelling at the operation site. Keep in mind that swelling is normal and part of the healing and recovery process. However, in rare cases, the swelling may expand beyond the surgery area. When this happens, it indicates certain complications like infection.

When will the swelling disappear?

The swelling after breast reduction surgery will take time to disappear. The swelling is the only side effect of the surgery that can take even many months to subside fully. After the surgery, the breasts will swell. As you recover over time, you will notice a reduction in the swelling.

The primary recovery happens during the first two weeks after the procedure. During this period, about 30 percent of the post-operative swelling will disappear. You will notice improvements in your breasts during the first two weeks following the intervention. However, complete outcomes of the surgery will not transpire unless the swelling has fully disappeared.

Complete recovery after the surgery takes at least six weeks. By the end of the sixth week, about 60-70 percent of the post-operative swelling will be gone. As the swelling fades, you will notice improvements in your breasts over time. Complete disappearance of the post-operative swelling will take more time. In normal cases, the swelling will fully disappear two months after the intervention. However, depending on your healing pattern, it may take more or less time.

It is important to keep in mind that different patients heal at a different speed. Likewise, the speed at which the swelling disappears will also be different for different patients. For example, one person’s natural healing capacity may be quicker and stronger than others. She will heal at a greater speed, and the post-operative swelling will also subside relatively quickly. On the other hand, if your natural healing system is weaker, it will take more time for your breasts to heal and for the swelling to disappear.

Your post-operative care is yet another factor that would determine the speed at which the swelling will subside. If you are careful during the recovery period, especially the first 4-5 weeks, you can expect the swelling to disappear relatively quickly. Some patients start physical activities during the recovery period. Such activities cause the incisions to become strained and may even trigger incision opening. When these happen, the post-operative swelling will take more time to subside.

For the swelling to subside faster, the patient must follow the surgeon’s instructions to the letter. The surgeon will instruct you to take sufficient rest and avoid physical activities during the recovery period. You need to provide your body’s natural defense system the energy and time it needs to heal the incisions and thereby subside the swelling. When you take enough rest, particularly during the first three weeks of the procedure, you will notice amazing improvements. The swelling will disappear quickly, you will not experience any complications, and you will be able to feel and notice the desired improvements in your breasts.

The surgeon will also advise you to wear special surgical bras after the intervention. It is critical for the patient to wear the surgical bras and not her regular bras for the period recommended by the plastic surgeon. Normally, patients are advised to wear the surgical bras for six weeks after the procedure. Why is it important? Surgical bras are specially designed to be worn after breast surgeries. They are made to reduce the post-operative swelling, expedite the healing process, keep your newly contoured breasts intact, and improve the outcomes. Be sure to wear the surgical bras for the time recommended by your surgeon.

In some cases, the swelling may prolong beyond many months. It may even be coupled with an expansion of the swelling instead of reduction. If this happens, you must contact your plastic surgeon because it is a sign of complication like an infection. Ideally, the swelling should decrease with each passing day and week. When the opposite happens, it simply indicates that things are not as they should be and you must seek medical help.

Infection prolongs the post-operative swelling and can even make it worse. After breast reduction surgery, your body will be exposed to possible infections. You must be extra careful so the infections can be prevented. Do not touch the incisions during the recovery period and never let any non-medical person touch. Also, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics during the recovery period so that you can stay safe from infections.

When an infection happens, it presents different symptoms. One of the main symptoms of infection is an expansion of the swelling beyond the surgery area. You may also see pus discharge at the surgery site and experience a rise in your body temperature. Other signs of infection include pain in the breasts, nausea, and sickness. If you see these signs in one or both of your breasts, you must contact your surgeon. The infection can be treated with oral antibiotics if it is superficial; however, you would need IV antibiotics if the infection is deep and severe.


Breast reduction surgery is a major plastic surgery intervention that treats overly developed breasts. There are many side effects associated with the surgery. One of the side effects of breast reduction is post-operative swelling. The swelling is temporary. As you heal, the swelling will fade. Most of the swelling will disappear within the first 5-6 weeks following the procedure; however, it would take about two months for the swelling to fully disappear. Also, your healing pattern will determine the speed at which the swelling disappears.

Share this article: