If drooping breasts are a concern for you, a breast lift can change your life by helping to restore your self-confidence. Many women report feeling a mood and energy boost after a successful breast lift. Sagging breasts may drag a woman down emotionally or may create an unwelcome distraction in daily life. These factors, along with many others, are what bring women to plastic surgeons for a breast lift. For the vast majority of women, the breast lift experience is straightforward and satisfying, leading to a pleasing result.
Breast Lift Benefits
After breast lift (mastopexy) surgery, women may feel that their clothing fits better and that they look more youthful. Some women report that their higher and firmer breasts make them feel more comfortable in their own skin. In some cases, women mention standing with better posture and feeling more fit after a breast lift. Others mention being more motivated to take care of their bodies, go to the gym or be more active.
A breast lift has the potential to accomplish many positive life changes, but you may wonder what you must sacrifice in order to get to the desired result. What’s involved in breast lift recovery and how long should it take? Are there ways to make your breast lift recovery stress free and minimize the time it takes to heal after a breast lift? Here, we’ll provide some expert breast lift recovery tips to help make your experience a good one.
Setting the Stage for Optimal Breast Lift Recovery
In general, breast lift recovery is relatively short because skin and soft tissue are reshaped without muscle involvement. Your absolute final result, with all swelling gone, will not be seen for 3 to 6 months or more. If you are having breast implants placed along with your breast lift, recovery will take longer.
After a breast lift, most women experience bruising, inflammation, soreness and discomfort, but little pain. If you faithfully follow your surgeon’s instructions before and after your breast lift and remain vigilant for (rare) signs of infection, you can expect a quick recovery and an excellent outcome. Many women are back to work in a week (in non-strenuous office settings).
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Breast Lift Recovery: Post Surgical Overview
Your surgery should take place in an accredited outpatient surgery center under the use of general anesthesia. You’ll awake bandaged and in a supportive compression bra.
Occasionally, surgical drains (small tubes) are put in place and are removed within a few days from your breasts. After your surgery, pain medicine, and sometimes nausea medication and an antibiotic, will be prescribed. Once you have woken up from your surgery, a friend or relative will drive you home. From then on, your recovery has officially begun!
Aside from those factors previously mentioned, you must wear a compression bra continuously, typically for at least 3 weeks, except when showering.
10 Tips To Speed Up Your Breast Lift Recovery
1. Care for your incisions.
Keep your surgical incision(s) clean and inspect them daily for signs of infection. You can shower the day after surgery, but if you have steri-strips over your incisions, your surgeon may want you to keep them dry so that they don’t fall off too early. Your stitches will be removed in 1 week, but are usually absorbable and designed to dissolve on their own.
Don’t submerge your incisions until any scabs have formed and gone; so avoid the pool, spa or bathtub for at least 2 weeks, depending on the type of stitches you have and your surgeon’s evaluation. Don’t drive for at least 3 days after your breast lift to avoid placing any strain on your incisions, which can cause bleeding or widen scars. Check with your surgeon for exact timing.
2. Be alert for complications.
They are rare, but look out for signs of infection at incision sites or hematoma, which is blood leakage that accumulates below the skin. If you experience fever, chills or worsening pain, or notice excessive swelling, bruising, new bleeding or discharge around incisions, contact your surgeon immediately for evaluation and proper care.
3. Take only the proper medication.
Oral pain medication is required for only 2-3 days, then you may switch to Tylenol. You may be given antibiotics to take in some cases. Avoid any medication, whether oral or topical, not approved by your surgeon, including over the counter drugs or herbal supplements. Don’t take aspirin, fish oil or vitamin E, as all of these medications can potentially thin the blood and cause bleeding.
4. Ask about herbal remedies.
Arnica and/or vitamin K cream or capsules may help reduce bruising. Bromelain capsules or pineapple juice may help minimize swelling. Before you apply anything to your body, be sure to ask your surgeon first.
5. Relax — don’t let stress interfere with healing.
A little walking is good from day one or two, but even with that being said, be sure to rest plenty. Sleep propped up at about a 30-degree angle to limit swelling. Sitting up helps you get the blood flow your breasts need for a good recovery. Invest in a wedge pillow or bed wedge if you think you will roll off of propped pillows when you fall asleep. Do not sleep on your stomach. Let your friend or family members cook for you, reach for things and lift things for you for a few days.
After that, take care not to strain the upper body for 3 weeks and gradually work back to normal activity levels. Call your surgeon about any concerns you have to avoid unnecessary worry.
Cold compresses offer another way to manage your swollen breasts and improve your comfort in order to reduce stress. Be careful so you do not impair your recovery or hurt your skin. Use an ice pack that already has a cover, or wrap it up in a towel or shirt to protect your skin. Keep it in place up to 20 minutes at a time to cut down the swelling, but give yourself a good 30 or 40-minute break before you reapply it.
6. Eat healthy and stay hydrated.
Limit salt intake if your surgeon advises you to do so. It may help keep the swelling down. Don’t forget to drink lots of water, generally 8-10 glasses per day. Without adequate hydration, your energy level will fall and that is the last thing you want when recovering from surgery.
Also, you may become constipated after surgery, so drinking water will help. Eat a healthy diet to ensure that your body has the necessary energy to heal properly. Include vitamin K rich foods like lettuce, eggs and yogurt. They’re known for helping with healing and reducing swelling. Do not drink any alcoholic drinks for 3 weeks because it can dehydrate you and cause fluid retention.
7. Walk for circulation but avoid upper body movement. No real workouts for at least 3 to 6 weeks.
You can walk around the house as soon as you feel able after surgery, but have a friend with you if you’re unsteady. Light exercise, such as walking, lowers the chance of blood clots and can dissipate swelling. Wear a very supportive sports bra when you resume exercising. High-intensity activity contributes to swelling, puts tension on your breasts and can lead to other complications.
Talk to your plastic surgeon so you can work together on a plan that helps you get back to your normal activity as quickly as possible, without compromising on your breast lift recovery. In most cases, you will only be off of your normal routine for a month.
8. Communicate with your surgeon.
If something concerns you, such as a lack of sensation in part of the breast or asymmetry, know that these often occur and will likely resolve as your body heals. Still, call if your concern seems urgent, like signs of infection or hematoma, or make a note to ask your surgeon about anything that you’re unsure of on your next follow up visit.
9. Care for your scars.
The scars from your breast lift should be well hidden by your plastic surgeon, who will have placed the incisions so that they are not visible when you’re wearing clothing. Still, monitor your scar development after the initial incision heals. Use a silicone product, such as a bandage or cream, to speed scar healing after the wound closes. Prevent infections by keeping the incision sites clean and protected; daily showers help you maintain a healthy healing environment for your skin.
You’ll also need to limit your exposure to UV light while the scar goes through the fading process. Tanning booths are unacceptable, and sunning on the beach may not be possible until the next swim season. Apply plenty of sunscreen once you are cleared to put on a bikini and your incisions are completely healed, because sun exposure can darken scars.
After healing has begun, ask your surgeon to show you scar massage techniques to help minimize the scar. If you or your surgeon notice thickening of scars, steroid injections may be given or laser treatment may be an option to improve the appearance of the scar. For some people, scars take years to fade completely.
10. Get back to normal and enjoy your new, improved silhouette.
Try on all the things you’ve been dying to wear. Go shopping for tops in your new size, however, keep in mind that your breasts will continue to settle a bit and some swelling may persist.
When you’re ready to learn more about breast lift options, and breast lift recovery, contact Cohen/Winters Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery in Bergen County, NJ. We offer personalized consultations, so please contact our office for an appointment when you decide you’re ready.