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Breast reduction - Recovering from a breast reduction

It is likely that your breasts will be swollen and feel tender and lumpy after surgery. The final appearance of your breasts may not be obvious for several weeks or months.

After surgery

When you wake up after having breast reduction surgery, your breasts will be bandaged and plastic tubes may be attached to your breasts to drain blood away.

After one to two days, any tubes will be removed and you will usually be able to go home. You may experience some pain for a few days, which can be relieved with painkillers.

Getting back to normal

Once you have returned home, you will need to take it easy for two to six weeks depending on your age and general fitness.

The length of time you need to keep the dressings on will depend on how quickly your wounds heal. After one or two weeks, your stitches will either dissolve or be removed at an outpatient clinic.

At your follow-up appointment, your surgeon will advise you when you can resume your normal activities and return to work. You may need to take two to four weeks off, depending on what your work involves.

Avoid stretching, strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for up to six weeks after your operation. You also need to keep your breasts supported by wearing a well-fitting wireless sports bra day and night for up to three months.

You should avoid driving until you no longer experience any pain when wearing a seatbelt, which may be several weeks. Before starting to drive again, contact your car insurance company to see what their policy is on driving after having surgery.

Scars are usually quite red for the first six weeks after surgery. They then change to a purple colour over the next three months before fading to white. Most scars heal well, but some women are left with red and lumpy scars that do not improve in appearance.

When to seek medical advice

While you recover, it's important to look out for signs that suggest you may have developed an infection, such as:

  • increasing redness, swelling and pain around your breasts
  • discharge from your wounds
  • a high temperature (fever)
  • vomiting

If you develop any of these symptoms, contact your GP or the hospital unit where the surgery was carried out for advice.

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