What Kind of Recovery Follows Reduction Mammoplasty? Dos and Don'ts!
Breast Reduction surgery generally takes between four to six hours, as an outpatient surgery. Afterwards, you will spend some time in the Recovery Room of the surgical facility. When you wake up, you will have gauze dressing over your breasts, and a support bra. You will also have drains that leave the skin at the outer sides of your breasts. The nurse and/or the doctor will give you and your family drain-care instructions.
Do not be alarmed if you feel discomfort from bruising and swelling. This is a normal result of the surgery, particularly for the first 48 hours. Your cosmetic surgeon will prescribe medications to relieve this discomfort.
At your first office visit following surgery, the bandages or surgical bra will be replaced with a softer support bra, which you will wear all of the time, day and night, for three to four weeks. These will help your breasts to retain their new shape.
There would be no sutures to be removed. The Steristrips that are applied to your incisions will either fall off in about three week or you can gently remove them by then.
Your cosmetic surgeon will provide you with specific instructions for your recovery, including what medications to take and how to limit your activities.
After surgery the best comfortable position for the first 2-3 days is to be lying semi-reclined. Elevation of the upper body and chest reduces the swelling and aching of the breasts.
After one week you can sleep on your sides, and after two weeks, on your abdomen.
I encourage you to be mobile and not to be sedentary in order to reduce the chance of forming blood clots in your legs.
Some women develop back pain or muscle spasm as a result of sleeping propped up. If you experience this, put a heating pack on your back and have your family member massage your back.
Take your nausea medications about one hour before taking your antibiotics and pain medication in order to lessen the extent of nausea.
It is good to stay well hydrated, but avoid drinking too much plain water because it can make you more nauseated.
Avoid eating greasy or spicy foods for the first three days, and have anti-acids available if you get an upset stomach.
Your gauze dressings will be removed in two days and afterwards you will be able to take a shower and get your breasts wet. After showering, you should blow dry the steristrip paper tapes that cover your incisions so that they don’t come loose. You will be keeping them on for about three weeks.
Apply heavy lotion to your breast and abdominal skin away from your wounds to lessen the skin dryness that follows surgery.
Keep your drains in a position where they may not get caught and be accidentally removed. Keep a log of how much fluid is drained, twice daily. Usually, when the total volume of drainages subsides to less than 30 ccs per day, the drains will be removed by the nurse or the doctor.
Recovery varies for each patient, as will the timing for resuming exercise and normal physical activities. Although you will probably be able to return to work within two to four weeks, your cosmetic surgeon will instruct you to avoid heavy physical exertion, including heavy lifting, frequent bending, reaching high over shoulder, and jogging for the first five to eight weeks.
Do not wear underwire bras or sport bras for the first several weeks because they tend to cut into your incisions in the Inframammary fold and may push your breasts to set in a location too high. Your surgeon will tell you when you can get these bras. The best type of bra to wear during this period is a "sleep-in" bra. If you can't find them, just get soft bras, and remove the underwire.
Be aware that your menstrual cycle may be altered for a month or two, but should return to normal.
You cannot get nipple or breast piercing, tattoos, or tan for at least six weeks after your surgery.
You can have sex after one week, as long as you don't overly exert yourself, and keep your incision clean and dry for up to 3-4 weeks.
Be aware of doors when opening them. Often times, I hear women complain that after surgery they accidentally hit their breasts against them because they were not aware of the change in their body shape.
You cannot use a public pool, Jacuzzi, or go into the ocean for at least six weeks after surgery.
Post-operative Instructions from the Office of Dr. Sean Younai:
You will have some pain and nausea after your surgery. Your physician will prescribe the appropriate antibiotics and pain medications.
For the first two to three days, sleep with your head elevated.
Do not sleep on your stomach or sides until cleared by your physician.
Do not remove your bandages until instructed to do so by your physician.
Do not drink alcohol, take aspirin, or diet pills until your physician gives you approval to do so.
Refrain from smoking for at least two weeks.
Wear soft bras or maternity bras with NO under wire for at least six months after your surgery.
You may walk, but you cannot participate in sports or strenuous physical activities until cleared by your physician.
Do not raise your arms above your head for two weeks. This can potentially cause a displacement of your implants.
Keep your drains in a position where they will not attach to anything, and be accidentally removed. Keep a log of how much fluid is drained, twice daily. Usually, when the total volume of drainages subsides to less than 30 ccs per day, the drains will be removed by the nurse or the doctor.
Areas of your breasts or nipples will be numb for several weeks after surgery. This is normal and expected.
The day of your surgery, wear loose, comfortable clothing that opens in the front, such as a jogging suit. Wear shirts that button down the front, and don’t need to be put over your head.
If you have any important or urgent questions within the first week after surgery, you are welcome to call our office at any time.
Some Tips for Your Significant Others!
The support of your family and loved ones can be as important to your healing as following your physician's medical directives. Their understanding of the pain, discomfort, and at times, the roller coaster of emotions that you might experience can make all the difference in having an optimal outcome.
Here are some tips for your significant others that will be helpful to them in helping you:
You should be available as a full time caregiver for at least 48-72 hours to help the patients with the tasks that are normally taken for granted, like being able to walk to the bathroom.
You, or someone, should care for the patient’s children for a minimum of two to four days, and be sure that she has assistance in lifting young children for several days after your surgery.
Help with pet care. Someone should walk them, feed them and clean up after them for at least several days.
Prepare to help the patient address the swelling that she will experience, according to her physician’s instructions. This may include ice packs or gel pack specifically designed for breast surgery patients.
Know that she may experience mood swings, and feel like crying off and on – especially in the first couple of weeks. This is a normal aftermath of major surgery.
Encourage her to drink lots of water – to address bloating and to keep her hydrated.
Remind her to not fight the pain – she should go with the flow, and take her medications as directed. It is not good to try and be a hero!
Have her use a U-shaped pillow for sleeping and resting.
Give her lots of compliments. She may be fearful because it will take some time before her new breasts appear as they should. She has a lot of healing to do!
Prepare simple and easily digestible foods, such as scrambled eggs or Jell-O.
Remind her to sleep on her back!
Have two sleep-in bras at the ready – one tight and one loose to alternate as needed.
Be there when she goes to have her bandages removed, to support her through any discomfort she may be feeling.
As far as sex is concerned, let her initiate things and play it by ear.
Some women are fearful that they might harm their implants if they are touched or manipulated after surgery. Have them ask their doctor about this and get some reassurance.
Some women feel depressed or regretful about having undergone breast surgery. Sometimes they don't know how to handle the attention or questions that breast surgery will bring about. At the same time, significant others can develop uneasy feeling about the fact that you underwent such surgery. It is good to talk about your feelings and to even seek outside help if you can’t resolve some ambiguities.
How Long Will It Take Before My Breasts Appear "Normal?"
Relief from neck and back strain is immediate for most women. Full healing can take a year or more, and generally it takes several months for your breasts to take on their final shape.
"I can't believe how much easier shopping for clothes is now. Before my reduction, I had to buy separates – with a huge difference in sizes. Now, I can actually wear a dress! I can stand straight and the pain in my shoulders is gone. My one and only regret is that I waited so long to do this."
— Mary, age 50
Immediately after surgery, breasts look rather flat and wide. Within several weeks they look like cones or "torpedo" sticking straight out. This is because the skin envelope is tightened over the breast tissue, and it takes several months for the breast skin to stretch and the breast tissue to settle into its final form.
However, after three to six months, most women find that their breasts are smaller, firmer, and with a natural look and feel.
Because of how quickly Breast Reduction resolves medical symptoms, it is often described as the surgery that results in the most dramatic change in your body image. As such, be prepared for friends, family – and yourself – to need time for adjustment!
Will the Results Be Long Lasting?
For most women, the results are long lasting, except for women who lose a lot of weight or become pregnant. As is the case for all women, however, aging and gravity take their toll, and may eventually affect your outcome. Down the road, some women opt for a Breast Lift, or "Mastopexy," to retain their new look.
Bra Sizing: How To Find A Perfect Bra?
It is imperative that you wear a proper fitting bra. If not, you will eventually have breasts that sag, back aches, shoulder aches, thinning skin and other problems. Many believe in formulas which determine your exact bra size, and while this can help and start you on the right path, it is most certainly individual. Try on a bra and wear it for a while and you will know if it is too large for you. Finding the perfect bra isn't impossible after your surgery, it just may be a little more difficult. But all in all, it is very important to find one that properly fits your frame and supports your breasts.
If your bra band is riding up in the back and if you find your self trying to lift your breasts by shortening your shoulder straps you are only doing your breasts a disservice.
Also very important, when buying a new bra it should fit snugly on the last setting (the loosest hook set) this way when your bra stretches with wear you can fasten it tighter if needed on the next two settings.
If you find post-operatively that your bras bag at the nipple area, try purchasing a bra with Lycra in it. This helps the bra to conform to the breasts.
If you have that horrible quadruple-boob look, where you look like your breasts have been split in two and have that not so appealing double-decker appearance, you need a larger cup size.
Do your breasts fall out when you bend over? You may need more coverage.
Bra Care: It is best to either hand wash and line dry your bras, or machine wash inside of a lingerie bag. Then line dry to extend the life of your bras. High heat will weaken elastic and ruin your bras.
Be sure to re-measure yourself in the event of weight gain or loss — even if 7 to 10 lb — pregnancy, or simply as time goes by. Measurements can vary over the years.