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  • 23 February 2024
  • Mr A. Siddiqui

Last updated on February 19, 2024

Here at Breast and Body Clinic, we believe that the path to the best results for your breast reduction surgery goes well beyond the operating room. Recovery is just as essential, and you need to approach it in the right way to optimise your results.

Our experts have put together this comprehensive guide to breast reduction recovery so you are equipped with the right information and support.

guide to breast reduction recovery

Breast reduction recovery: A reduction mammoplasty is a great option if your large breasts are causing neck pain, back or shoulder pain, chafing or other symptoms.

How to prepare for your breast reduction surgery

Preparation is the key to a successful recovery from a breast reduction procedure. At your initial breast reduction consultation, our board-certified plastic surgeon will provide advice about the best way to prepare for your cosmetic surgery, including:

  • Arrange for a friend or family member to assist you at home for the first few days after your surgery
  • Cook and freeze nutritious meals so you have easy, healthy and ready-to-eat meals during your recovery
  • Ensure your home is clean and set up for a comfortable recovery with ample pillows for elevation and support
  • Stop smoking before your surgery as this can delay healing and increase the risk of complications post-surgery
  • Review your medical history and any regular medications with your surgeon and make any adjustments as recommended
guide to breast reduction recovery

Breast reduction recovery: Stocking your fridge and freezer with healthy foods and meals before your breast surgery is a great way to ensure you fuel your body for optimal recovery after your surgery.

Your timeline for breast reduction recovery

Part of preparing yourself, and ensuring a good recovery from a breast reduction procedure, is knowing what to expect as you heal. Here is a guide to the recovery period:

First 72 hours

You may be admitted to the hospital for the first night following your plastic surgery to remove excess breast tissue. Once home, the initial days post-surgery are focused on rest. You’ll experience some swelling and discomfort, which can be managed with prescribed medication. During this time it is essential to:

  • Avoid strenuous activities and movement that could place strain on the surgical site
  • Wear the recommended support bra to aid in healing
  • Take prescribed medication for pain relief
  • Ensure you take gentle walks and move your body as this can avoid a blood clot forming in your leg
  • Don’t shower during this period
  • Leave your dressings intact
  • Sleep on your back, using pillows for support

1 to 2 weeks

Swelling and bruising will begin to subside, although you can still expect your breasts to feel tender. You might start feeling more comfortable, but it’s essential to continue avoiding strenuous activities. Follow-up appointments typically occur during this period to monitor your recovery and healing.

  • Some people can return to work, depending on how physically demanding their job is
  • Continue to limit strenuous activities and exercise
  • Take short, gentle walks
  • You can shower
  • Continue to wear the recommended recovery bra
  • You need to remain sleeping on your back during this period
  • At your post-operative appointment, your surgeon will remove your stitches, replace your dressings and check incision sites for any signs of infection
guide to breast reduction recovery

Breast reduction recovery: You will be provided with a surgical support bra or compression bandage after your reduction mammoplasty. You need to wear this until your surgeon says otherwise.

3 to 4 weeks

You can gradually return to some normal activities, including light exercise. However, heavy lifting and high-impact activities should still be limited for at least four weeks. Most patients begin to see significant improvements in swelling and shape.

  • Most of the bruising should have faded by now
  • You can start exercising gently again, with your doctor’s permission

Beyond a month

By now, you should feel more like yourself and can return to most activities, including more strenuous exercise. You will be able to see your final breast shape and scars will continue to fade over the next several months to a year.

  • After about 4 to 6 weeks you can stop wearing the surgical bra however you should invest in a well-fitting and supportive sports bra and everyday bra
  • You will still have scars, however, these will continue to fade

Our top breast reduction recovery tips

Here are our top tips for your recovery period:

  • Organise support and ask for help in the first few days you are home after your breast surgery
  • Take medications and pain relief as prescribed
  • Use other strategies to manage your pain like a cold compress
  • Give your body the time it needs to heal
  • Sleep on your back in an elevated position
  • Eat a healthy diet as fueling your body with nutritious foods helps the healing process
  • Avoid strenuous activity and lifting heavy objects
  • Take slow gentle walks to keep your circulation going and avoid postoperative complications such as blood clots
  • Wear the recommended surgical bra or compression garment

Most importantly you should attend any follow-up appointments and follow the advice of your surgeon.

Mr A SiddiquiMeet Mr Siddiqui

MBBS (Hons), MRCS Ed, M.Ch, FRCS (Plastic Surgery) Consultant Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon CHESTER | MANCHESTER | PRESTON

Mr Siddiqui holds the position of Consultant Plastic Surgeon within the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Department at The Countess of Chester Hospital. He is known as one of Manchester’s top 10 cosmetic surgeons, with a distinguished career in plastic surgery. Having refined his expertise, he transitioned to an NHS Consultant before establishing his private practice, serving individuals across Manchester, Chester, and Preston.

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How long does it take to fully recover from a breast reduction?

Full recovery from breast reduction surgery typically takes about 6 weeks for most activities, but it can be 3 to 6 months before swelling fully subsides and you can see the final results. Scars may take up to a year or more to mature fully and fade away.

What can you not do after breast reduction?

During the recovery process after a reduction to remove excess fat and tissue from your extremely large breasts, it’s important to avoid:

  • Strenuous activities
  • Heavy lifting
  • High-impact exercises
  • Lifting your arms above your head
  • Sleeping on your stomach or side
  • Smoking or excessive alcohol

Your surgeon will provide specific guidance based on your recovery.

When do breasts look normal after reduction?

While you’ll notice changes in your breast size immediately, it can take several months for the postoperative swelling to fully resolve. Typically, breasts will start to look more natural and “normal” around 3 to 6 months post-surgery, with continued improvements up to a year.

How does recovery compare to other breast procedures like augmentation, lifts, or implants?

Recovery from breast reduction surgery can differ significantly from other breast enhancement procedures such as breast augmentation, breast lift, and the insertion of breast implants. While all these surgeries aim to improve the aesthetic and functional aspects of the breasts, their recovery processes and timelines can vary based on the complexity and nature of each procedure.

Mr A. Siddiqui
About The Author

Mr A. Siddiqui

Mr Siddiqui is a Consultant Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon, based at The Countess of Chester Hospital in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He trained extensively in plastic surgery before becoming a Consultant in the NHS and developing a private practice in Manchester and other areas of the Northwest. He is considered to be one of the top 10 cosmetic surgeons in Manchester.

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