Breast Reduction Recovery Guide & Tips from our Surgeons
Over the years, Berkeley Square Medical have been collating data about the numerous Breast Reduction surgery procedures they have carried out. These are guidelines only from Breast Reduction Surgery, your surgeon should provide you with postoperative instructions. You may want to review this information to discuss with your surgeon prior to surgery.
- If possible, have your significant other, parent or good friend there to help care for you for the first 48 to 72 hours. It is very important to have someone there to wake you for medications, help you to the bathroom, prepare food for you and make sure that you eat it and also to be there in the event of an unforeseen emergency. If you are on your own, try to find someone that can check on you for the first couple of days.
- Consider the journey home. It’s advisable to take a pillow or two to make yourself comfortable for the journey home. Especially since the seatbelt crosses right over your breasts.
- Take your pain medications. There is no reason to suffer. Studies have proven that patients who are in pain and have a lot of stress can expect to significantly increase their healing time. Take care of yourself.
- Take your antibiotics on time; you do not want an infection. Finish your entire course and do not skip pills. Don’t forget if you are taking birth control medication that some antibiotics can interfere with their effectiveness, so in the event that you do have relations, use another form of protection as well.
- Take your temperature regularly. An elevated temperature could mean an infection. If you do have a fever, contact your surgeon.
- Always check with your surgeon about taking any other medications or herbal supplements. All surgeons have different opinions and you need to make sure you ask before taking anything not prescribed or instructed to take by your surgeon. Advise your surgeon about any prescription medications you normally take.
- Be sure to follow your surgeon’s advice on icing. Keeping the area cold can really help the swelling and discomfort, especially in the first 48 hours. Do not place ice or cold compress directly on skin and ensure you check your skin during icing, especially where there may be areas of numbness. If you have been cleared to use ice, leave it on for 10 minutes and leave it off for another hour before using again. Of course if your surgeon says no icing — no icing. Follow your surgeon’s instructions.
- You need to eat, even if you can only eat a small amount several times a day. Your body is healing and you need energy for the healing process. High protein foods are the best for the healing process. You also don’t want to be taking your medications on an empty stomach as this can cause nausea.
- Drink plenty of water. Your body needs water to help flush out the residual anesthesia and pain meds — especially after you cease taking them. Plus, you will retain more fluid resulting in being more bloated and increased swelling if you do not. Also, your medications can cause constipation and being dehydrated can only make things worse.
- Remember that swelling is normal, as is bloating. Continue to drink water and eat a balanced diet, all will subside in its own time — with a lot less stress.
- If you become constipated as a result of the pain medications, check with your doctor about taking stool softeners. Mild stool softeners like Colace are really effective, but please ask your surgeon first.
- You will need to sleep elevated for the first 7-10 days. Ask your surgeon how long he/she recommends sleeping this way and when it is recommended that you can sleep on your sides.
- Have pillows along side of you as well as in back of you, this can either support your arms or assist you in trying to roll over on your stomach or sides. You may find that using a bed wedge pillow to keep yourself elevated is helpful. You may also want to have a pillow to use under your knees and a small pillow for the lower part of your back. If you don’t normally sleep on your back, you may find that initially you are not very comfortable and may have a hard time sleeping. Unfortunately, you need to stay on your back to prevent any complications caused by pressure on your breasts. Your pain medication taken just before bedtime may help you sleep better.
- When you get tired, sleep. Sleeping gives your body more time and energy to direct towards healing.
- Get up and walk around when you are able but don’t overdo it. You should start by walking for a couple of minutes every hour to prevent the possibility of blood clots in your legs. This doesn’t mean that you should be going shopping! You’ll find during the first couple of weeks that you will tire quite easily, even doing the things you did before your surgery. Ask family or friends to help with the grocery shopping, chauffeuring the children and even cooking, cleaning and laundry. You can repay their kindness with a nice dinner when you are healed!
- No walking around without a support garment unless your surgeon specifically told you not to. This is important. Your breasts will need support during this time for several reasons: breast shape, scar stretching, pain, and trauma to the healing breasts.
- Your surgeon will tell you to quit smoking before your surgery. Once you have quit, don’t start again. Smoking narrows the blood vessels and decreases the amount of hemoglobin to the wound. This can result in wound closure problems.
- Ask your surgeon about scar treatments. This includes silicone gel sheets, scar creams and Vitamin E.
- Make sure you don’t take any aspirin-containing products or drink alcohol for at least 2 to 3 weeks post op.
- Remember, you will have breast reduction scars and they will look worse before they will look better. Please don’t be depressed because of the scars. Your breasts will continue to change over the next few weeks and months and the scars will get better. The scars are at their reddest in the first 3 to 4 months. Besides, depression and stressing out over anything is NOT good for proper recovery.
- No lifting objects over 5 to 7 pounds. This includes children and pets. Be careful with your significant other and children, and tell them to be careful. Being hit in the breast after surgery can cause bleeding, suture popping and undoubtedly, pain.
- No bending over. Bending over increases your blood pressure on your wounds and may cause hemorrhaging. Squat down, if you must, but do be careful. This is why it is important to place things at hip level beforehand or have someone to help you at home.
- No raising your arms way over your head. Check with your surgeon on when it is safe to do so.
- You should not be driving for at least a week, two if possible, after your surgery. You should discuss when it is okay to drive with your surgeon. Anesthetics remain in your body for a while after surgery and it’s not recommended that you operate any motor vehicles. When you do drive, you’ll probably want to put a pillow or blanket between your chest area and the seat belt to avoid discomfort while driving.
- Watch for suspicious swelling and discolorations that could be a hematoma. This is important! Know the difference between a hematoma and a bruise. You may also find that your skin becomes flaky and itchy. This is quite normal as the healing process begins. If the itching persists, especially if you are taking pain medications, contact your surgeon. You may have a reaction to the medications and your surgeon can determine what you should do. Numbness or hypersensitive areas on your breasts is common after breast reduction surgery.
- Make a chart of when to take your meds. A pill case will help you keep your medications in order.
- Place a waterproof, non-slip stool or plastic chair in the shower when you are finally allowed to shower. It’s also a good idea to have someone in the bathroom with you for your first 2-3 showers. You may feel light-headed and it helps to have someone steady you when you get in and out of the shower.
- A hand held shower head will allow you to direct the water where you want it. Keep the water flow low and cool the first couple of times you shower. You can use your hand to direct the water over your breasts the first couple of times you shower. Ask your surgeon what type of soap or body wash you can use and when you can use it. If you find that the water is burning when you shower, try taking a wash cloth, soaking it and squeezing the water over your breasts gently (don’t use the wash cloth on your breasts though).
- After you shower, place a towel on the closed toilet seat and sit down to dry yourself. If you want to make sure that you are completely dry after you shower – remember, you can’t dry the incision areas with a towel but you can gently place a dry washcloth over the incisions and use your hair dryer on the lowest setting and on cool to gently dry the areas where you have the incisions – the washcloth helps deflect the direct stream of air.
- If you are expecting your period and it does not come, do not worry. The medications, trauma and anesthesia will probably interrupt your cycle. This goes for it coming at an inopportune time such as the day of your surgery. Check with your surgeon’s office as to what you can do if your period starts on the day of your surgery.
- You are may get a little depressed a few days after your surgery, or somehow or another during your recovery. This is very normal. Just warn your loved ones beforehand and keep your chin up. Your body has been put through a trauma. You may find that you have unexplained crying sessions, feelings of unattractiveness, self doubt, regret and general sadness. This too, will pass.
- Do not be afraid to contact your surgeon if you feel there is anything wrong. They are accustomed to talking with patients who may have questions or just need reassurance.
- If you have non-dissolvable stitches ensure you know when you will need to return to the office for removal.
- Go to your post-operative appointments. These are important so that your surgeon can gauge your progress and assess any further needs you may have to improve your results or experience and for you to share your thoughts, express concerns or ask advice.
- Keep in touch with your employer since they will be interested in knowing when you will be returning to work or if you require additional time to recover. They can then make arrangements to meet their needs and yours.
- Most importantly, relax. Don’t stress. Being stress-free is very important for your recovery. You only have one chance to heal right and plenty of rest is the only way to get the healing process going in the right direction. You’re probably going to need a minimum of 2 weeks away from work/school and if you can arrange to take more time, do it. You are going to have days where you feel wonderful and days when you find you don’t have any energy, you are sore or swollen or you are just feeling like you don’t want to do anything at all. This is not the time to be shopping – the bras and cute clothes can wait – if you overdo it in the beginning of the healing process, you may regret it as your recovery progresses. Be prepared to look after yourself and be looked after, guilt-free.
- Follow the instructions of your surgeon regarding resuming day to day activities including sports, exercise and swimming and strenuous activities at work.
- It is quite probable that your final results may take up to a year to achieve. No trying on old bras or analysing in the mirror in the first month or two – you’ll drive yourself crazy! Two weeks or two months is not the time to “think you’ve reached your final size”.
We thought we would put together a must-have list of recovery tips for patients. This post focuses on swelling tips. Most patients who have plastic surgery are worried about post-operative swelling and how they can minimise this unsettling symptom. As swelling can remain for days, weeks or longer, being prepared and knowing the key recovery tips will greatly help to minimise swelling.
London Cosmetic Surgery group Berkeley Square Medical, is one of the UK’s leading providers of Aesthetic and Cosmetic Surgery .
For more information about Berkeley Square Medical, please visit: https://www.berkeleysquaremedical.com/breast-reduction
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