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Breast Reduction Recovery Week by Week: What to Expect

/ Dr. Aric Aghayan

Women who struggle with large breasts often have trouble exercising without pain, can’t find clothes that fit comfortably, and feel self-conscious about their figure. For these women, breast reduction surgery can make a profound difference in comfort, confidence, and overall health. Just take a look at some of the amazing before and after photos from our past patients.

Naturally, as you move toward surgery, your mind will turn to the recovery period. What can you expect during breast reduction recovery? Will you be in pain? When can you start exercising and returning to your normal activities again?

The answers to these questions will vary from patient to patient as everyone’s body heals differently. But, for now, let’s take a look at a general week by week outline of the recovery period. 

This is what most patients can expect during their recovery from breast reduction surgery. 

Breast Reduction Recovery Week by Week

Week #1

Breast Reduction Recovery

First, let’s go over what you can expect directly after surgery. In the initial hours after your breast reduction, you will be relocated to one of our recovery rooms so that you can be monitored by our staff. 

After a few hours and once you feel comfortable, we will discharge you to go home. Make sure that you have arranged a responsible family member or friend to drive you.

You’ll arrive home with your breasts bandaged and wearing a surgical bra. Dr. Aghayan will tell you how long you’ll need to wear these garments. Be sure to follow his instructions closely as doing so will impact your results.

Swelling, bruising, and some light discomfort and pain are all common at this point after breast reduction surgery.

What is the most painful day after breast reduction surgery?

You’ll be numbed for your surgery, and this numbness will last for a while afterward. However, once the numbness wears off, you’ll start to feel some pain and discomfort, which is why we will prescribe a pain medication for you.

Usually, the days that are accompanied by the most discomfort are immediately after your surgery. By day four, most patients don’t need pain medications anymore and can transition to over-the-counter pain management options.

How long is bed rest for breast reduction?

You won’t necessarily need to be on “bed rest” after your surgery. However, you should limit your movements and refrain from any physical activity during your recovery. Rest for the first few days, but don’t hesitate to get up and take short walks around the house right away. This movement will encourage circulation, which is good for your recovery.

When can I lift my arms after breast reduction surgery?

It’s important not to lift your arms or stretch or strain in any way right after your procedure. Limit your movements, and be gentle about the way you get up from lying down or being seated for about a week.

Week #2

Once you move into week two of your breast reduction recovery, you should be noticing that your pain and discomfort are improving. You should also be back at work by this point. Do not go back to your regular exercise routine just yet, however. Patients can usually start exercising around week three. It’s always important to ease back into exercise.

You will still have some swelling at week two of your breast reduction recovery. Swelling lasts for several months. Your bruising will have significantly lessened, however, and you should be able to see some of your results despite the residual swelling.

Week #3

On week three of your breast reduction recovery, you should be feeling fairly comfortable. You will be back at work and able to drive and perform most of your normal activities. Most patients still need to wear their compression garments at this time, and you should still be refraining from physical activity. Follow Dr. Aghayan’s instructions.

Can I lay on my side 3 weeks after breast reduction?

We generally recommend that you wait around a month until you sleep in the way that is most comfortable to you. Sleeping on your side or on your stomach before this time may compromise your results and agitate your incisions, which could cause worsened scarring.

Week #4

It’s always important to speak to Dr. Aghayan before going back to physical activity, but most patients are able to do this at week four. While you should not be lifting heavy weights or doing cardiovascular exercise that is extremely vigorous, you can go back to a light exercise routine.

What can I do 4 weeks after breast reduction?

In addition to being able to exercise again, after week four, you can usually go back to sleeping on your side if you please. Just remember to be careful with your treatment areas as they are still healing. 

You’ll notice residual swelling is still hanging around, and you can expect this for several more months. Even though it may not seem like it, the swelling will go down a bit every day.

Weeks #5 and #6

Weeks five and six of your recovery should feel fairly good. You should be back to your normal routine. If you choose to do so, you can ramp up your physical activity as well. Just be sure to follow Dr. Aghayan’s guidelines, and don’t rush into vigorous exercise before you feel comfortable.

Your Breast Reduction Results

The majority of breast reduction patients are able to see their full results after 3 to 4 months of recovery. This varies from patient to patient, however. Everyone recovers at a different rate and should not expect to recover in the exact same way as another patient. 

Be sure to attend all of your follow-up appointments during your recovery. These are important for Dr. Aghayan to assess your improvement and make sure your incisions are healing well.

How long does it take for breasts to drop after reduction?

Some patients talk about breasts “dropping” after surgery. This is an informal term for the natural way in which breasts tend to slowly settle and move down during the recovery period. Basically, this will occur when the swelling and tightness in your breasts has naturally dissipated — several months out from surgery. 

To get a better idea of how your breasts might look at any point during your recovery, look up some breast reduction recovery week by week pictures, or breast reduction scars one year later photos online. Just be sure to remember that everyone’s personal recovery experience will be unique.

What to Know About Breast Reduction

Breast Reduction Recovery Week by Week

Breast reduction surgery removes excess tissue, skin, and fat from the breasts. Various incision patterns may be used for this procedure. Most reduction surgeries involve an incision around the areola as well as one down the center of the lower breast (and sometimes, an additional incision along the inframammary fold).

Those who struggle to exercise comfortably, have rashes from skin folds or uncomfortable bra straps, have trouble finding clothes that fit, and feel emotionally challenged by disproportionately large breasts may be good candidates for this surgery. In some cases, the procedure may be fully or partially covered by health insurance.

Set Up Your Consultation Appointment

Interested in having your breast size reduced? 

For women with disproportionately large breasts, this can be a life-altering surgery. And getting information on the recovery period is a great place to begin that journey. 

We recommend that all of our patients educate themselves as much as possible when it comes to their procedure. Many patients have questions about what is involved in breast reduction surgery. From there, we invite you to book a consultation appointment with Dr. Aric Aghayan to learn more about your options and whether you’d be a good candidate for the procedure. 

Call our Portland office today to set up your appointment!



Embrace Your Evolution

Enjoy the pinnacle of cosmetic surgery expertise with board-certified Portland Plastic Surgeon Dr. Aric Aghayan at Après Plastic Surgery. With a legacy of over 1600 successful body contouring procedures, Dr. Aghayan stands as the foremost specialist in advanced body contouring technology and treatment options. Take the next big step on your beauty journey by scheduling a comprehensive plastic surgery consultation with Dr. Aghayan today.

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