Recovering from breast reduction surgery is difficult enough without having a full appreciation of what to expect when you are resting and healing. Although your surgeon may have provided you with the basic outlines, it always helps to have a more detailed roadmap so that you have a better idea of what lies ahead.
Here are some signposts along the way to guide you through every phase of the recovery process, from the moment you leave surgery to when you are fully recovered and can finally look in the mirror to see the results that you had hoped to achieve.
Immediately After Surgery
Right after the completion of your breast reduction surgery, you’ll be taken into a recovery room until the effects of the anesthesia begin to wear off. You will have made arrangements for someone to drive you home. Once you are cleared, you will be driven home to begin your recovery.
First Three Days
After your surgery, your incisions and stitches will be protected by sterile dressings and a surgical bra. Some plastic surgeons place drains during a breast recovery procedure to allow for the drainage of fluids after surgery.
The first three days is when you will experience the most significant swelling, which will involve some discomfort. You will also probably feel a bit tired and sleepy until the effects of your anesthesia completely wear off.
Once 48 hours have passed, you may begin taking showers.
Although vigorous physical activity is to be avoided at this time, you still need to move around some and walk without straining yourself. This encourages healthy blood circulation to prevent blood clots.
Pay particular attention to all of the postoperative instructions that you were provided with, including information about taking pain medication, antibiotics and incision care.
You will be the most sore during the first two or three days after your surgery. You may need the assistance of a friend or family member with changing your bandages and helping you bathe during this time.
You may resume some of your normal activities at this time. If your surgeon placed drains during your surgery, they can be removed during the first week.
Although you can shower and bathe by now, avoid vigorous scrubbing, particularly around the area of your incisions.
During the second week of your recovery, you should be able to return to work, as long as it does not involve heavy manual labor. You should find that your swelling and bruising are greatly diminished by now, and any drains that were placed will be removed if they haven’t already.
Although you may need to continue wearing your surgical bra, you should be able to resume normal activities, including light exercise.
Weeks Four to Six
By this time, your body should almost be fully recovered from your breast reduction surgery. Any remaining swelling or bruising should be minor, and you should start feeling like yourself once again.
Depending upon your progress, you may be able to stop wearing your surgical bra, although you will still need some kind of support.
Your recovery should be mostly complete by six months after your breast reduction surgery. Your incision sites should look mostly normal by now.
Finally, you will need to meet periodically with your plastic surgeon so that they can check on your progress. The further you move along in your recovery timeline, the longer the time between visits.