Breast Reduction Recovery Time: When Will I Be Back On My Feet?

Breast reduction recovery time depends on your baseline, though it will take up to six weeks to get back to regular exercise.

One big barrier for women who want to get breast reduction surgery is the recovery time. Most of our patients live busy lives, balancing work, home obligations, and social lives. The idea of being laid up for weeks or even months is impractical. Luckily for them, breast reduction recovery time is not as long as you’d expect, and there are some things you can do to make it faster. 

Standard Breast Reduction Recovery Time

Standard breast reduction recovery time is anywhere from two to six weeks, though everyone recovers at different rates and has to return to different activity baselines. Someone in a sedentary job with minimal physical activities may return to work and most activities of daily living within 1-2 weeks. The ability to perform intense exercise may take up to 4-6 weeks. Here’s a basic breakdown: 

Breast Surgery Recovery: What to Expect


Stage

Guideline

Immediately after surgery

  • You will experience some pain, soreness, and swelling as the body heals
  • Non-exertional physical activities and walking are advised.

First week

  • Soreness and occasional bruising start.
  • You may resume non-exertional activities of daily living activities but no heavy lifting, strenuous activities, or exercise. Office work from home can begin as tolerated.

2-4 weeks

  • Most of the soreness is gone.
  • You may engage in light exercise and activities like household chores.
  • You may return to work in non-labor-intensive industries
  • You should begin incorporating gentle stretching, massage, and exercises.

4-6 weeks

  • You can start to return to your normal activity level, though exercise should remain moderate.
  • This is typically when you would return to work in labor-intensive industries.

6 weeks and beyond

  • You may return to full-intensity exercise

Of course, the above guidelines only apply in cases where there are no post-surgical complications. Post-surgical infections or other complications could delay your recovery. While you can never avoid all the risks accompanying surgery, you can help mitigate them a bit through proper pre and post-surgical steps. 

What Can You Do to Speed Your Recovery?

The first and best thing you can do to speed up your breast reduction recovery time is to work with a plastic surgeon who thoroughly understands your needs. They should complete a comprehensive assessment to review your goals, physical condition, health history, and aesthetic desires. That surgeon will create a customized plan to reduce your surgical complication risk. Aside from that, here are some other steps to take. 

  • If you smoke, stop. That’s good advice for your health in general, but it’s essential in breast reduction surgery. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes can constrict blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the surgical site. This diminished blood flow can slow down the healing of incisions, increase the likelihood of infections, and potentially lead to undesirable scarring. We advise stopping smoking for at least 1 month before, and 1 month after, surgery.
  • Practice preoperative health. Start following a healthy regimen ahead of your breast reduction to prepare your body for the postoperative period. Prioritize a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Stay adequately hydrated, exercise regularly under your surgeon’s guidance, and aim to limit alcohol consumption. This will help in tissue repair post-surgery. 
  • Prepare your home. Before the surgery, make your home recovery-friendly. Ensure you have a comfortable, elevated sleeping area, and stock up on supplies like loose-fitting clothing, pillows for support, and easy-to-prepare meals. 
  • Enlist support. Everyone in the postoperative phase faces moments when they require assistance, whether it’s a helping hand with daily tasks, emotional support, or simply someone to talk to. Having a friend, family member, or caregiver available can make a significant difference in your recovery experience. Their support can ease your burden, provide comfort, and ensure you can focus on healing without added stress. 
  • Follow postoperative instructions. And follow them to the letter. Your postoperative instructions are just as customized as your surgical plan. These instructions are designed to promote proper healing, minimize risks, and ensure the best possible outcome. Your surgeon’s expertise guides these recommendations, so trust in their guidance and commit to following them diligently.

You can accelerate your breast reduction recovery time by attentively listening to your plastic surgeon’s advice and promptly contacting their office if you have any doubts or concerns. Open communication and a strong patient-surgeon partnership are vital to achieving the best possible results. Trust your surgeon’s expertise, follow their recommendations, and don’t hesitate to seek their guidance whenever needed to optimize your breast reduction recovery journey.

Bringing Patient Advocacy to Breast Reduction and Reconstruction

At Harris Plastic Surgery, every consultation includes a thorough evaluation of your Empire Plan coverage for breast reduction surgery. We take a concierge approach to treatment, which includes working to minimize your out-of-pocket costs. Contact us to schedule a consult!

Stephen U. Harris, MD FACS

Dr. Stephen U. Harris is a board-certified cosmetic surgeon and recognized expert in breast reduction and reconstruction surgeries, having performed thousands in his career. When it comes to patient care, his philosophy is that every surgery should improve his patient’s overall quality of life, not just their appearance. Dr. Harris stays up-to-date on all the latest advancements in breast augmentation, reconstruction, and reduction and is a recognized innovator in the field. In fact, he was the first surgeon at Good Samaritan Hospital to offer primary prepectoral implant breast reconstruction, as well as secondary prepectoral revision surgery.

Dr. Harris also serves as Chief of Plastic Surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York and is an active staff surgeon (and former Chief of Plastic Surgery) at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, New York.

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