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A Complete Timeline of Breast Reduction Surgery Recovery

| March 15, 2022 August 2, 2023 | |

breast reduction recovery timeline

Over the years, breast reduction has proven to be an effective surgical solution for women who experience various physical issues such as poor posture, chronic body pain, and difficulty wearing clothes due to their overly large breasts. Women consider breast reduction for them to be able to do more daily activities with much ease, as their breasts will no longer stand in the way. Along with other kinds of cosmetic surgery, breast reduction remains to be a popular procedure that aims to enhance body proportions and ultimately address some issues with self-image.

While breast reduction is an effective procedure, it is also quite delicate. So, it is important to know what to expect after the surgery and how to ensure that the recovery is without complications.

How Painful is Breast Reduction Surgery?

Performed under general anesthesia, breast reduction is a form of plastic surgery that aims to reduce breast size by removing an amount of fat and skin for a lighter appearance and feel. During a breast reduction procedure, our surgeons remove excess breast tissue to alleviate discomfort among patients and create a more proportional body profile at the same time.

By utilizing a personalized approach to each patient, our surgical team has responded to the growing demand for breast reduction surgery since 2013, and nothing has been more fulfilling than seeing women who have undergone the operation leaving our clinic very satisfied and more confident.

We use two primary techniques for performing breast reduction surgery: Traditional (Anchor Scar Pattern) and Vertical (Lollipop Scar Pattern) and have guided patients on which technique applies to them based on their breast shape and size.

Are There Any Side Effects to Breast Reduction Surgery?

Let us first differentiate a complication from a side effect. A complication is a medical issue that presents a risk if not dealt with immediately. Examples of these complications are hematoma and loss of skin or nipple.

On the other hand, side effects are the body’s reaction to the changes that occur during the healing process. The following side effects of the breast reduction procedure are normal to have.

Soreness and Discomfort

You will experience soreness and mild to moderate discomfort for 2-3 weeks after your surgery due to the fresh incisions around your breast area. These sensations will improve over time. You will need to focus on your healing. This includes taking time off from work while nourishing your body with healthy food and lots of hydration. Sleep is also important, and you should avoid all kinds of strenuous activities. As always, take all your prescribed medications on time to minimize the pain and avoid infection.

Bruising and Swelling

Bruising and swelling will be most significant within 1-3 days after your breast reduction. Continue hydrating yourself and fight the strong urge to scratch your incisions while they begin to heal and become dry. Keep wearing your compression bra as this will alleviate the swelling and will keep your breasts in your desired shape. You will see a great improvement in swelling and bruising one week after your surgery.

Numbness or Acute Sensitivity

Numbness or acute sensitivity is a common occurrence not just after breast reduction, but after any form of surgery. Due to the incisions made around the breast, some nerves can be damaged as the tissues are being worked with. It varies from patient to patient and which of the two can occur to them. As the nerves continue to repair themselves, your sensations around the breast area can go back to normal within weeks and even a few months after your surgery.


Scarring is unavoidable in breast reduction surgery, and scars can mature over about a year or longer. But in the hands of skilled plastic surgeons, post-surgical scarring can be minimized. While scars can fade over time, their healing can be affected by some factors such as age, genetics, and skin color. However, eating proper nutrition, hydration, and avoiding activities that stretch your incisions can help lessen the healing time. You can also ask your surgeon to prescribe you some topical creams that will minimize scar formation.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Breast Reduction Surgery?

We know that you will do a lot of preparation before you finally make your decision to go for breast reduction surgery. However, work should continue after the procedure. Consciously taking care of your body as weeks go by should be of utmost importance. The recovery period has different phases, and knowing each of them will inform you what to do while you are on your way towards your body goals.

Days 1-3

Once your surgery is done, you will be wearing a surgical bra on top of gauzes to cover your incisions and stitches. The surgeon will also give you a list of instructions that will aid you in recovery. You will not be able to drive following the surgery, so please make sure that you already have someone to drive you home from the clinic. Swelling will be most noticeable within this timeframe, but it will subside eventually. You will also feel tired and nauseated the day after surgery due to the general anesthesia used during the procedure. Even if you feel you can, you should not be doing any kind of physical activity. Even raising your arms above the head should be avoided.

Weeks 1-2

You will still need to take some time off from work within the first week because you may still experience mild to moderate discomfort.  Continue taking things easy at home as you may still feel tired, particularly if you are still on pain medication. You may begin to feel normal again after the first week. You will still need some assistance during this time frame as you will not be able to do some strenuous activities such as lifting heavy objects. While allowing yourself to rest as much as possible, you can already take short walks around the house since light physical exercises can help you recover.  Although some bruising may still be present, you will notice that the swelling begins to diminish by week two. You should also attend all your follow-up appointments as the surgical dressings will be removed within this time period.

Weeks 3-4

You will be cleared to resume your normal activities within three to four weeks after surgery. You can likely return to work if your job does not involve a lot of movement or heavy lifting. Swelling, bruising, and soreness in the area will be reduced considerably. However, you will still need to continue wearing a soft bra without an underwire.

One month and beyond

You will gain your full energy, and your doctor will give you clearance to resume all of your daily responsibilities a month after surgery. Dissolvable stitches will likely be gone, and you will be able to indulge in a bathtub and wear your favorite underwire bra. Not only that, but you will also be able to do your usual exercise and other strenuous activities after four weeks. You will feel more confident about the movement of your new breasts after six weeks. You can also sleep however you please—whether on your side or your stomach. Your body will continue to heal and develop months after surgery. Over time, you will see the scars look thinner and less noticeable.

Useful Tips To Keep In Mind Following Breast Reduction Surgery

Your body will be at its most vulnerable following your breast reduction surgery. While the length of recovery varies per patient, there are a few things that you can do to hasten your healing process. It is also important to get other people involved and seek their assistance to make your recovery less stressful.

Ask someone for help

Starting from leaving the clinic, you will already be needing some assistance, in this case, to drive you home safely. The rationale behind taking time off from work within the first week is for you to focus on healing.  It is best to request someone to do some chores for you in the meantime as your body experiences the side effects of breast reduction.

Continue to be in touch with your surgeon.

A skilled plastic surgeon has performed many breast reduction surgeries and has seen many patients in their recoveries. Attend all post-operative appointments, and follow your surgeon’s advice based on your healing progress.

Observe your body

Remember that each body has its own reaction and recovery time after an operation. Obey your body if it tells you to rest or dehydrate. It will also tell you if you can already resume your daily responsibilities. Also, being attuned to your physical changes can also help you identify whether you are experiencing a normal side effect or a complication from your breast reduction procedure.  Doing so keeps your mind at ease about these common changes or being responsive to emergencies while you are recovering.

Make The Most of Your Life With A Breast Reduction Surgery

There are different ways for each woman towards their best version of themselves. While most of them opt for enhancing breast size through breast augmentation, there are still women who may go a different path and choose breast reduction. Over the years, we have helped many women lead a more convenient life with a body that they are more comfortable with and can be most proud of. Schedule a consultation with us today to learn your options.

About the Author

Dr. Ergun Kocak, MD, is a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in plastic and reconstructive surgery of the breast using DIEP, SIEA GAP, TUG, PAP, and direct-to-implant, in Columbus and Cincinnati, OH.
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*Our blog entries are written in order to further educate our patients and raise awareness towards topics related to plastic surgery. Any solutions offered on this blog are intended to help possible patients develop educated decisions before undergoing a consultation with our doctors.

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