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Breast Reduction Recovery Timeline

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Dr. Jude LaBarbera, MD Plastic Surgeon

Breast Reduction Recovery Timeline

Breast Reduction Surgery Recovery Timeline, Activities, and Tips

Breast reduction is an increasingly popular procedure that helps countless women improve the appearance of problematic large or sagging breasts. Also known as reduction mammaplasty, this procedure is designed to help women with large breasts alleviate physical discomfort, or achieve specific cosmetic objectives. For many patients, choosing to undergo breast reduction surgery is a difficult decision to make, but the outcome of the surgery can be well worth it.

If you’re planning to receive a breast reduction surgery soon, this post highlights important considerations and tips for recovery.

Breast Reduction Recovery Timeline

Breast reduction is typically an outpatient procedure performed under general anesthesia. During the surgery, your surgeon will reduce your breasts and reshape them to meet predetermined objectives. Patients should set aside between 2 and 6 weeks for full recovery. Although the recovery duration varies from one patient to the other, below is a general recovery timeline for breast reduction Scottsdale patients should expect.

  • Immediately after the procedure – immediately following a reduction mammaplasty, you’ll have dressings on your breasts, as well as drainage tubes to help with healing. Most patients are able to get out of the hospital on the same day as the surgery. In some unique cases, you might be required to stay for a night for two after the operation so that the surgeon and his team can monitor your progress. It’s important to have someone to take you home after the surgery because you will not be capable of driving so be prepared before your surgery.
  • After a few days – a few days following breast reduction treatment, it’s common that your breasts will feel tender and swollen. Most patients also experience discomfort, particularly when raising their arms above their head. Gilbert Plastic Surgeon Dr. LaBarbera will provide precise instructions on when you are able to take a shower, and how to do it so you do not interfere with the healing process.
  • After a few weeks – a follow-up appointment is necessary within 1-2 days after the surgery, then again after 7-10 days. This allows your surgeon to monitor your progress as well as remove the drains and possibly stitches. Patients can expect their breasts to still feel tender, although this reduces with time. Once you’re able to wear a seatbelt without any discomfort, then you’ll be ready to drive again.
  • After a few months – about 6 weeks after breast reduction plastic surgery, patients are typically able to resume all physical activities. Incision sites from the surgical procedure should fade, and much of the swelling should go down by this point. Keep in mind that it may take up to a year for your breasts to settle into their final shape.


  • Get tons of sleep – following any surgery, your body needs time to rest so it can recover. Even if you have a million things to take care of, the biggest mistake you can make after breast reduction is not taking your recovery seriously. It’s a good idea to have a friend or family member help with tasks or chores so you can rest.
  • Maintain a balanced diet – breast reductions and other surgical procedures naturally result in weight loss and maintenance. It’s important to focus on a diet that will actually help with recovery. Drink plenty of fluids, eat foods rich in antioxidants, as well as protein in order to boost your recovery.
  • Consult your doctor – you’ll experience some pain and discomfort after the surgery and likely throughout the healing process. During this time, it’s important to consult your doctor if you have any questions. Be wary of herbal supplements and always check with your surgeon before taking any new medications.
  • Take antibiotics on time – your surgeon will provide you with antibiotics to help prevent infections after reduction surgery. Make sure you finish the entire course and do not skip pills.
  • Monitor your temperature regularly – it’s important to monitor your temperature so you can quickly know if and when your temperature rises. If you have a fever, you should contact your surgeon immediately.
  • Take care of your scars – since incisions are made during breast surgery, scarring is inevitable. Even more, nobody can tell how your scars will turn out with time. Your surgeon should provide some instructions on how to take good care of your scars following the surgery. Make sure that you strictly adhere to these instructions.
  • Take gentle walks – it’s important to take short walks when you can after the surgery. You should also wear a sports bra to support your breasts while healing, and make use of pillows to relieve pressure on your neck.
  • Attend your post-op appointments – post-operative appointments provide an excellent opportunity for your surgeon to gauge your progress and assess your ongoing needs during the recovery stretch. You may ever take before and after breast reduction pictures. These visits are also a great opportunity to ask questions and air any concerns that you may have about your recovery progress.

Things to Avoid After Breast Reduction Surgery

  • Avoid smoking – smoking is a definite no-no after breast reduction surgery. In fact, you should quit smoking about a month before the surgery. This is so because smoking can narrow blood vessels and decrease the volume of hemoglobin going to the wound, thus impairing healing.
  • Refrain from sexual activity – sexual activity is ‘off-limits’ throughout the first month after the procedure. This is so because sex is considered to be a strenuous physical activity that can cause inflammation and impede the healing process.
  • Avoid running water – your surgeon may ask you to avoid showering for 1-2 days while your wounds are fresh and your stitches still in. Soaking in a bathtub should also be avoided for at least a month following breast reduction surgery. You’ll be able to wash with wet towels or a damp cloth.
  • Avoid breast feeding – you will not be able to breast feed afterwards for a certain time period prescribed by your surgeon after your surgery.
  • Avoid driving – keep away from the wheel for at least a week (possibly two) following the surgery. Talk to your surgeon about when it is safe to drive yourself again. The same goes for operating any machinery. When you’re eventually able to drive, you’ll probably need to put a pillow or blanket between your chest area and the seat belt to avoid discomfort.