For prospective female and male patients, breast reduction surgery or, for men, gynecomastia, can be very beneficial. The results can be such a dramatic life-improvement that side effects or complications are easy to dismiss. Make sure you know that breast reduction is a major surgery that requires proper planning, enough time to heal, and attention to details that could minimize your risks. If you’re simply aware of the importance of the recovery time you’ll be facing, you’ll already have an advantage.
Breast Reduction Recovery, From a Medical Standpoint
From the moment your surgery ends, your breast reduction recovery begins. Your plastic surgeon will close your incisions and wrap your chest in gauze and, if needed, a surgical bra to support your breasts while they heal. This special bra must be worn for the first two days or more, as recommended by your plastic surgeon. In some cases, drains will also be placed in the treatment area to alleviate the buildup of excess fluids. These will be removed by your surgeon within a few days of your procedure. Talk to your plastic surgeon about the timing of these first few return visits.
You should expect to experience some mild to moderate pain and discomfort, along with some swelling and bruising of the breast tissue. These symptoms will fade gradually on their own, but you can apply cold compresses and take prescription pain medication to manage them in the meantime. Your plastic surgeon will provide you with a complete healing timeline for you, including information about when you will be able to resume all of your regular activities, including work, special exercises or training, and more.
Potential Breast Reduction Complications
Every surgery comes with its own complications, so breast reduction patients should research the procedure. While it is rare to develop post-surgical complications, all patients should be educated about the potential risks. When complications do result, patients can experience infection, heavy bleeding, nerve damage to the breasts and/or nipples, or asymmetrical or unexpected breast reduction results.
Some of these conditions can vary in severity and may require quick medical attention to resolve. To minimize your risk of any complications following your breast reduction surgery, choose the right plastic surgeon to perform it. Look for a surgeon who is board certified, experienced in performing breast reductions, and equipped to conduct your surgery in a safe, sterile environment.
All surgeries involve recovery time, so you’ll need to be prepared before going in for surgery. Know what to expect and when you can plan to be on your feet again. It can help you to relax if you know what time has been blocked off just for your own recovery. After breast reduction surgery, your body will be coping from the removal of breast and fatty tissue, possibly liposuction, and the reshaping and repositioning of your breasts. Let the tissue heal as you keep to this breast reduction recovery schedule:
- Immediately After Surgery: You will spend time in a recovery room as you wake up from the anesthesia. Eventually, your surgeon will clear you to go home with a friend or family member to drive you. If you live alone, you may want to have someone stay with you during the first night after surgery. He or she will also let you know when you are able to take your first shower after surgery.
- During Week One: After a few days, you will return to your surgeon’s office for a follow-up visit, at which time your stitches will be removed (if not dissolvable) and your surgical bra will be replaced with a different support garment. As your body heals during the first week, you will have a prescription for pain medication that will help you to manage the symptoms and keep you comfortable. You will not be allowed to drive until you have stopped taking your pain medications, so plan for someone to bring you to any appointments at your surgeon’s office.
- During Week Two: You should be much better in this second week of recovery, perhaps even well enough to return to work. Follow your doctor’s advice on this to avoid injury or complications, however. You will notice that you need less pain medication to get through the day and that your swelling and bruising are almost gone. Your breasts may still be tender, and likely will be for a couple more weeks, but they are getting better.
- Long-Term: Slowly, you will be allowed to resume your daily activities and even vigorous exercise. It is normal for your breasts to feel a little hard and swollen for about six weeks, but they will eventually soften and go back to normal. Wear your specialty support bra as directed by your plastic surgeon to promote healing and deter any sagging. Soon, you will be switched back to regular bras so get ready to go shopping for your new cup size!
Follow Your Instructions for Success
Once you’ve picked the right surgeon and you’re preparing for your surgery and recovery, there’s one last step you can take to ensure your success: follow your surgeon’s instructions. By caring for your body the way you are asked, you are helping it to heal. Make a checklist and follow it closely, making sure that you do anything that can help you heal faster and better. Some of your instructions will include: not smoking, drinking enough water, avoiding alcohol before and after surgery, resting for the first 48 hours post-op, propping yourself up to sleep, avoiding physical activity, and more. Your plastic surgeon will have plenty of good advice to keep you healthy, it’s up to you to follow it.
Contact Us and Book a Consultation
Please contact a patient care coordinator by phone at 281-484-0088 if you would like to schedule a confidential consultation during which Dr. Vitenas will go over your complete medical history, take the time to understand your goals, and answer all of your questions. Computer imaging will be used to help you visualize your own personal results. Dr. Vitenas will discuss reasonable and expected outcomes, and explain the details of the procedure including the technique, the recovery, the risks, the costs, and financing options.
Our office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can also email us anytime, and one of our patient coordinators will get back to you. We are conveniently located in the heart of Houston. If you are not a local, we can schedule an online consultation. We can also assist with travel arrangements.
Dr. Paul Vitenas, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S. of the Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery and the Fine Art of Natural Cosmetic Surgery is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and founder of Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery. He has practiced in the Houston area since 1990, and has been named one of Houston’s Top Doctors and America’s Top Plastic Surgeons. He’s also been awarded Houston’s Most Compassionate Doctor and a Top Doctor for Women.