After undergoing breast reduction surgery, it can really feel as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. If your breasts are large enough, they can cause neck and back pain. Large breasts can also make it difficult to find clothing that fits correctly or for you to participate in regular physical activity. If these are issues are familiar to you a breast reduction procedure can help.
As with any surgery you may need to make some changes to your life and habits before and after the procedure for a comfortable recovery and successful outcome. Your surgeon will typically provide you with a list of instructions and advice to prepare for the surgery and for the recovery afterwards. Here are a few things you can do to make your recovery as comfortable as possible.
Recline in the Proper Positions
Swelling is common after the procedure and can last for several months. Although your breasts will be noticeably smaller in size, any swelling that occurs can keep you from seeing full results for up to a year after the procedure. While you can’t fully eliminate swelling after the surgery, you can do a few things to minimize it.
The position you sit and sleep in plays a part in keeping swelling down. It’s a good idea to keep your chest as elevated as possible during the first few weeks after surgery. Instead of lying flat on your back or side to sleep, place a few pillows under your torso, to keep the chest area lifted. When you sit, keep the chest up, either by sitting in a recliner or sitting upright in a chair.
It’s best to avoid sleeping on your stomach for several weeks after your surgery, as you don’t want to put pressure on the breast area. If you’re usually a stomach sleeper, adjusting to sleeping on your back can be tricky. One good way to keep yourself from flipping over in the night is to place pillows against each of your sides before going to sleep.
Wear the Right Kind of Bra Properly
Another way to keep swelling down after your surgery is to wear some sort of compression garment. Immediately after the procedure, the surgical area will most likely be bandaged and wrapped in gauze. But once the bandages are removed, it’s generally recommended that you wear a soft, but supportive bra, such as a wireless sports bra. A supportive bra will help hold the breasts in position and will reduce swelling and bruising. You’ll want to wear the bra around the clock for the first few weeks, even when you go to bed.
Although switching to an underwire bra might seem like a good idea, it’s typically not recommended during the first few months after your surgery. The wire in the bra can chafe the area, irritating the incisions or creating sores. Wait until your surgeon gives you the go-ahead before you switch from wireless bras to an underwire.
Handling Pain and Discomfort
Typically, pain and discomfort after a breast reduction is minimal, but every patient handles pain differently. If you find the pain overly unpleasant, you can ask your surgeon for a prescription strength pain reliever. In some cases, taking an over-the-counter medication might provide sufficient relief. Talk to your doctor before taking any medicines, even readily available over-the-counter ones, to ensure they won’t cause any issues that might impede the healing process.
Eat Simple, Unprocessed Real Foods and Drink Plenty of Water
What you eat after your surgery plays a big part in your recovery. Post-surgery isn’t the time for complicated diets, nor is it the time for a lot of junk food. Instead, try to eat foods that contain a lot of nutrients and that are low in sodium. Too much sodium after your surgery can increase swelling. Getting enough nutrients after surgery is essential for proper healing.
Drinking plenty of water is also essential after surgery to keep you hydrated and to reduce swelling. Try to keep a glass of water with you at all times and remember to drink, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Be careful about drinking alcoholic beverages after the reduction surgery. Your surgeon might recommend waiting a few weeks before drinking alcohol, even in moderation, again.
How to Keep Clean With Limitations
Washing yourself can be a bit challenging after your surgery. You may find that it is easier to take sponge baths for the first few days or weeks after the procedure, to avoid getting the incision areas wet. Your surgeon will let you know when it is okay to begin taking showers again.
Shampooing your hair might be tricky, since you’ll be advised not to lift your hands above your head. It might be a good idea to schedule a few appointments with your hairstylist to have him or her wash your hair for you after the surgery.
Keep Physical Activity to a Minimum
For the best results, it’s recommended that you keep physical activity to a minimum during the first few weeks after your procedure. Taking short walks is okay a few days after surgery, but you’ll want to avoid intense workouts or exercise for about four weeks. In most cases, you’ll be able to head back to work about one or two weeks after surgery.
Although breast reduction surgery means you’ll have to make changes to your lifestyle for some time, the results and benefits are worth it. We are available to discuss the benefits of breast reduction with you further and to help determine if the surgery is right for you.
Contact Us and Schedule a Consultation
Please contact a patient care coordinator by phone at 281-484-0088 if you would like to schedule a confidential consultation with Dr. Vitenas, during which he doctor 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.
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.