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How to Reduce Swelling After Breast Reduction

/ Dr. Aric Aghayan
How to Reduce Swelling After Breast Reduction  Portland

Swelling after breast reduction is perfectly normal and a good sign that your body is taking the necessary steps to heal. For the majority of patients, swelling will peak at some point in the first week after surgery and persist for several months. 

While swelling is normal, we also understand that it can be cumbersome and uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of swelling you experience during your recovery and, ideally, expedite your recovery so that you can start enjoying your results faster.

Why Does Swelling After Breast Reduction Occur?

Swelling is your body’s natural response when healing an area that has been injured. Although we don’t typically define breast surgery as an “injury”, your body still sees it as such. 

Because of this, your body will still begin to heal itself in the typical way by sending thousands of repair cells to the affected area. This is good — it’s what we want! However, naturally, this huge influx of cells in a concentrated location will cause the area to puff up, and this is swelling.

How Much Is Too Much Postoperative Swelling?

Breast Reduction Surgery

It is difficult to predict how much swelling an individual patient will have because all patients are different, and all surgeries are different as well. Swelling may encompass your chest area, and you may have some slight swelling in the arms, hands, and abdomen too. Tightness and tingling are also common symptoms.

After any breast surgery, the central healing process takes about two or three weeks. Swelling will be at its most extreme around day three. 

After around the three-week mark, most patients are back at work and can resume a light exercise regimen. However, some swelling will stick around. In fact, it will stick around for at least three months after your surgery date. Some patients even experience light residual swelling after that.

If you are ever concerned about the amount of swelling you have, don’t hesitate to contact your plastic surgeon.

How to Reduce Swelling After Breast Reduction Surgery

Before we dive into some useful steps for reducing swelling after breast reduction, it’s important to note that every patient and every breast surgery is different. The state of a patient’s breast reduction scars one year later depends on many factors.  Furthermore, each plastic surgeon will have his or her own way of performing this procedure, based on the anatomy and goals of the patient and their own unique approach to breast surgery.

Still, we can offer some general tips that should help reduce your swelling and discomfort after breast reduction.

#1 – Stay well hydrated.

While it may seem counterintuitive, drinking more water will actually help reduce swelling faster. In addition to water, you can also drink nonalcoholic, non-caffeinated liquids like juice and sports drinks.

#2 – Eat a healthy, balanced diet.

Consume a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains. It’s best to reduce your salt intake during this time as excessively high amounts of sodium can prolong swelling after breast reduction.

#3 – Manage pain.

To combat pain directly after surgery, an oral pain medication will be prescribed. Take this as directed and on an as-needed basis. When you can, switch to an over-the-counter pain reliever.

#4 – Keep your upper body elevated.

Gravity can play a large part in reducing swelling after cosmetic surgery on the breasts. This means that you’ll want to keep your chest upright most of the time, especially during the first few weeks after surgery.

Ask your plastic surgeon how they would like you to sleep. After most breast surgeries — including breast reduction, breast augmentation, and breast lift surgery — surgeons want their patients to sleep at an incline and on their backs. 

This change in position can sometimes cause shoulder pain and neck pain for patients. Therefore, it may be a good idea to invest in a good wedge-shaped pillow for your bed.

#5 – Wear the appropriate garments.

After surgery, your surgeon will put you in a special garment, which is usually in the form of a padded surgical bra. Wear this garment for as long as you are directed. 

After a while, your surgeon will allow you to switch to something more comfortable like a simple, unwired sports bra. Finally, after three or more weeks, you should be able to choose your own bras.

#6 – Get moving when you can.

Promote healing and healthy blood circulation by performing gentle exercise once your surgeon gives you the go-ahead. 

You won’t need to be up and moving immediately (it’s best to keep things easy at first); however, remaining in bed for too long and not moving around may cause blood clots, which can be dangerous.

Most patients are able to start taking short easy walks at some point within the first few days after surgery. As always, be gentle with your incision sites, and rest when you are tired.

Common Symptoms After Breast Reduction


Swelling after this (or any cosmetic breast surgery) is common as thousands of repair cells rush to your breast reduction incisions to repair them.


Injured breast tissue and damaged blood vessels will show through your skin as you heal. This is bruising, and it is another perfectly normal sign of recovery after breast reduction surgery. 

Soreness and Discomfort

As your body heals itself from surgery, your upper body is going to feel sore and uncomfortable for several days. Pain can be mitigated with prescribed medications. Most patients are able to switch to an over-the-counter pain reliever after a few days.

FAQ: Breast Reduction Recovery

How can I make my breast reduction heal faster?

To improve the recovery phase of breast reduction surgery, take medications properly, keep yourself hydrated, and eat a well-balanced and healthy diet. Do not push yourself physically, but slowly begin to exercise as directed. Finally, wear the proper compression garments and/or bra, and get plenty of rest.

How long should I ice after breast reduction?

Ice can sometimes help after breast reduction surgery to reduce swelling. Be sure that you don’t apply ice directly to your skin (or directly on top of the nipple area), and do not use an ice pack for more than 15 minutes at a time.

Book a Consultation Appointment to Learn More

How To Reduce Swelling After Breast Reduction Surgery

If you’ve already undergone breast reduction surgery with Dr. Aghayan and have questions about the healing process, or what wear after breast reduction surgery, please give our office a call.

Alternatively, if you are considering breast reduction surgery and would like to learn more about the procedure, please reach out to schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Aghayan. We also invite you to check our blog regularly for more breast reduction recovery tips!



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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