What to Hold Off on When Recovering From Your Breast Surgery

No matter what kind of breast surgery you have, it's still major surgery. You will be sore and tired for at least a few days. Dr. Paul Vitenas | Houston, TX.

Regardless of the type of breast surgery you have had or plan to have, you will need some time to recover. You’ll also need to hold off on some activities for a while after the surgery to ensure that you heal properly and enjoy optimal results. Here’s what you need to know about what to avoid after as well as before breast surgery.

Types of Breast Surgeries

There are many different types of breast surgeries. Some women have one or more breast surgeries performed at the same time, which can impact healing time. If you haven’t yet chosen the breast surgery that’s right for you, then you might consider one of the following procedures.

Breast Implant Surgery – Breast augmentation, or augmentation mammoplasty, uses breast implants to increase the size and/or shape of the breasts. There are different materials used in breast implants: silicone implants, saline implants, and alternative composite implants. Talk to your surgeon to find the right type for you.

Breast Lift – Breasts start to sag with age or following pregnancy and breastfeeding. You might choose a breast lift, or mastopexy, to lift and shape your sagging breasts. Or, you may choose to have augmentation and breast lift surgeries performed at the same time to increase the size of your breasts while lifting and shaping them for a more youthful appearance.

Breast Reduction – If you have overly large breasts, then you may want a breast reduction to decrease their size. This can be for medical reasons, such as for back pain from breasts that are too heavy. Or it can be for cosmetic reasons because you feel your breasts are just too large in proportion to your body.

Breast Implant Exchange – If you’ve had breast implants for a while, you may want or need a breast implant exchange. Reasons for an exchange may be to replace saline implants with more natural-looking silicone gel implants, because your breasts have sagged, or because one or both of the implants have developed a leak and need to be replaced. Another type of breast surgery is a breast implant revision. This may be performed to correct the results of a previous breast implant surgery.

Mastectomy or Lumpectomy – Finally, you may have had breast cancer and needed a mastectomy to remove one or both breasts. Or, you’ll be able to have a lumpectomy surgery to remove the part of the breast or breasts that have cancerous cells. Many women have breast reconstruction surgery after having a mastectomy or a lumpectomy.

Take Time to Recover After Breast Surgery

No matter what kind of breast surgery you have, it’s still major surgery. You will be sore and tired for at least a few days after the procedure. Take time to rest and recover with the following tips:

Plan For Help After Surgery – You will need to sleep and relax, especially in the first few days after surgery. Plus, you will be on pain medication. It is a good idea to have someone help you with the kids and pets, bring you meals and drinks, remind you to take your medications on time, and help you walk to the bathroom.

Manage Your Pain Effectively – It’s important to manage your pain after surgery. You will have mild to moderate pain for at least a few days. Taking the medications your surgeon prescribes as directed will help you heal more effectively.

Sleep is Your Friend – Make sure you get plenty of rest and sleep. Sleep helps your body recover. You’ll want to have plenty of pillows to prop yourself up on, as it is recommended to sleep upright for a while after breast surgery.

Eat Light, Healthy Meals and Drink Plenty of Water – After the surgery, you will need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. You may not feel too hungry but you will need to eat some healthy food in order to repair cells, heal your incisions, and fight infection. Also, some of the post-operative medications cannot be taken on an empty stomach.

Hold Off on Certain Activities and Habits After Breast Surgery

After breast surgery, you will want to hold off on a few activities and habits while you recover. It is important to follow your surgeon’s instructions to ensure that you heal properly. You don’t want to develop post-surgery complications if you can avoid them!

Don’t Do Any Lifting – For at least six weeks, maybe even longer, you cannot do any heavy lifting. Most surgeons recommend not lifting anything over 20 pounds for the first few months. You will be able to increase the amount of weight you can lift as the weeks go by after surgery.

You will also want to keep your arms below breast height for a while after your surgery. First of all, it may be too painful to lift them. You will want to keep them down and as still as possible to give your breasts a chance to heal.

Don’t Exercise for a While – Your surgeon will advise you not to exercise for at least four to six weeks after surgery. It will take a while to get your range of motion, flexibility, and strength back. You will not be able to do any heavy weight lifting for a month or two at least.

Wear the Correct Bra – It is recommended that you don’t wear a regular bra for a few weeks after breast surgery. It is important to wear the compression bra you are given after surgery or one like it. You won’t be able to wear an underwire bra for months after your surgery or at least until your incisions have fully healed.

Don’t Drink Alcohol – You should hold off on drinking alcohol after breast surgery until you are off all of your medications. Alcohol and your pain medications may cause a harmful interaction. Plus, your medications will not work as effectively if you take them with alcohol.

Wait to Travel – You will not be able to drive until you are off of any narcotic pain medication. In addition, you may not be able to lift your arms high enough to turn the steering wheel. It may be just too painful to drive for some time.

A few weeks after surgery you will have some post-surgery appointments with your surgeon, so you’ll want to stay in town for the first couple of weeks. It’s not advised to fly for at least two weeks after surgery for a short flight and six weeks after surgery for a longer flight. Also, protect your breasts and any incision scars from UV exposure for a year after surgery. Give yourself more than enough time to recover from breast surgery. You may have to hold off on some things you want to do for a while, but it will be well worth it in the long run. Time flies and you’ll be back to normal in no time. To schedule a consultation with renowned Houston plastic surgeon Dr. Paul Vitenas, call our office at 281-484-0088.