When your breasts are larger than you’d like or if they are causing you physical health issues like shoulder pain, a breast reduction could be the best option for you.

Recovery from breast reduction surgery is a key concern because you want and need to return to work and family life as soon as possible. Your concern about breast reduction recovery is already an indicator that you take your health seriously and do your best to make sound decisions.

We’ve been working with plastic surgery patients in Bergen County NJ for more than a decade and have found that taking the time to conduct research is one of the things that can lead to a great surgical outcome.

Research is the Best Preparation for Breast Reduction Surgery

To help you make a confident decision about whether breast reduction surgery is right for you, let’s look into the typical breast reduction recovery experience. We’ve outlined the stages of recovery below, however, if you are looking to learn specific details about your recovery we recommend scheduling an appointment with your local breast reduction surgeon.

Contrary to what you might have heard, the best qualified and most experienced breast surgeons generally offer a no-charge consultation. That’s because caring and skilled surgeons want to make sure you are a good candidate for the procedure before moving forward.

Stages of Breast Reduction Recovery: Immediately After Surgery

During breast reduction surgery the breast is lifted and its weight is reduced. The nipples are repositioned and liposuction may be performed in some cases. Breast reduction surgeries may take between 3 and 5 hours and is an outpatient procedure.

After the procedure, you are taken to the recovery room of the surgical center to be monitored as you awake from general anesthesia. You will return home the same day, but you must arrange for a friend or family member to drive you to and from the surgery location. Someone should stay with you for the first night after your breast reduction as you may be disoriented or groggy.

You will go home wearing a surgical bra that supports the breasts during the healing process and minimizes incision stress and swelling. Beneath the supportive bra, there will be gauze and steri-strips. The sutures are not visible and most will be absorbed.

The bra and gauze are easily removed on the second postoperative day for the first shower.

Breast Reduction Recovery Stages: The First Weeks After Surgery

Breast reduction does not involve bone or muscle, but it does require skin incisions. It can take up to 6 weeks for inflammation to decrease to a point that your breasts start to feel soft and natural again. You should continue wearing a bra throughout your recovery but may change to any soft bra, as long as there is no underwire. Your post procedure breast reduction recovery instructions will be customized to your specific case, but generally, you can expect:

  • Sutures: Most of your stitches will be absorbable and not require removal but often there will be one suture on each side that may require removal after 7 days.
  • Pain: Pain is very subjective but many women report feeling burning sensations and discomfort initially following surgery. Pain medicine will be prescribed to be taken if necessary, for the first 7 days. Many patients do not require the prescription strength pain medicine and may take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Your breasts will ache and continue feeling tender for a couple of weeks.
  • Showers: You may shower on the second postoperative day.
  • Driving: Do not drive until you are done taking your prescription medicine.
  • Working: While every individual is unique, most women may go back to work within 1-2 weeks, if they work in an office environment.
  • First menstrual period: The first period after breast reduction surgery may cause pain and swell in your breasts.
  • Exercising: You can resume light exercises, such as spin or stationary biking immediately and advance to more vigorous exercise, including running, 3-4 weeks following your surgery.

Remember these recovery estimates are purely general estimates and in no way should they be taken as personalized medical advice. Always speak with your surgeon before making any changes to your lifestyle.

How to Enhance Your Recovery from Breast Reduction Surgery

Make it a point to put your health first when you’re recovering from your breast reduction surgery. This includes following your post-surgery instructions closely. You will have several follow up visits with your surgeon during your breast reduction recovery to ensure that you are healing properly. Tips to enhance healing include:

  • Do not smoke!
  • Drink water and stay hydrated.
  • Do not consume alcohol for several days after your procedure.
  • Rest for the first 48 hours after surgery. Get a trusted person or family member to stay with you for the first 24 hours.
  • Sleep propped up. Use pillows to support your upper body at roughly a 30-degree angle for the first 2 or 3 weeks after your breast reduction.
  • Avoid any physical activity that might place stress on your incisions. Don’t bend over, lift objects or lift your arms up over your head.
  • Contact your doctor right away if you see signs of infection in your incisions. This is rare after a breast reduction, however, you should be on the lookout for drainage, increasing pain, fever and excessive inflammation or swelling. Any of these signs can be a signal that there is an infection.

Remember that if you have any doubt about your understanding of the breast reduction recovery instructions or self-care after your surgery, you’re encouraged to contact your surgeon’s office right away.

You should never guess what to do during your recovery. If you don’t recall exactly what you were instructed to do or if the written materials leave any questions in your mind, just contact the office for guidance. Your successful breast reduction recovery and overall health is your surgeon’s highest priority.

Getting Breast Reduction Surgery

Breast reduction procedures are very common in the US, and in northern NJ, today. Breast reduction surgery is not the right choice for everyone–but those who do undergo the surgery typically see fantastic results. The vast majority of the approximately 43,000 women who undergo breast reduction surgeries annually emerge with a positive outcome and an enhanced self-esteem.

Breast reduction patients often report that they feel energized and rejuvenated. The majority of women report that they are happy with their new, smaller breasts.

Although results are typically very good, you must understand that scars are an inevitable part of having surgery. Your breast reduction surgeon will use certain techniques to minimize scarring and the chances of complications. However, it is still important to understand the risks that are associated with breast reduction surgery.

Breast Reduction Consultations

For a personalized view of your specific breast reduction and breast reduction recovery plan, we recommend scheduling an appointment at our Bergen County office. We offer a no-charge consultation with either Dr. Cohen or Dr. Winters.

Breast reduction surgery is a process that we’re involved in together, from start to finish. We want to learn about you and your individual goals. Together we can achieve the look you’ve always wanted.

breast surgeon NJ

Dr. Cohen

About Dr. Cohen

Dr. Cohen specializes in breast lifts, augmentations, revisions and reductions as well as breast cancer reconstructions. A long time dream of Dr. Cohen’s was to travel to developing countries and provide expert surgical care to those who have no other possible access to medical care. This became a reality in 2007 when she became a founding member and Vice President of ISMS Operation Kids.