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Breast Reduction Recovery Timeline

Posted Jan 31, 2014 by Stephen Greenberg, MD

Manhattan Breast Reduction RecoveryIf you are contemplating breast reduction surgery, it’s wise to understand what recovery entails so you can anticipate your needs and promote a speedy recovery.

Plastic surgery for breast reduction involves removing excess breast fat, glandular tissue, and skin to create a breast in proportion with your body and to provide relief from the discomfort of overly large breasts.

Dr. Stephen T. Greenberg, with offices serving the greater New York City, Long Island, and Manhattan, is a sought-after plastic surgeon knowledgeable about breast reduction recovery. Dr. Greenberg can explain both the surgery and recovery in detail so you feel confidant.

Immediately after Surgery

  • If you’ve had general anesthesia, you may wake up groggy and perhaps somewhat nauseated.
  • Your breasts will be wrapped in gauze dressings and bandages or a surgical bra. Once the dressings are removed, you will continue to wear the surgical bra for several weeks after surgery.  
  • You may have drains inserted into each breast to remove excess blood and fluids. The drains are often removed during your first follow-up appointment after surgery.
  • You will remain in the surgical suite for a few hours to be monitored and then be allowed to go home. Someone should drive you home and help care for you for the next few days.
  • You will receive specific instructions to follow after surgery.

First Days

  • Pain. You will experience some discomfort after surgery. This is normal. If needed, you can be prescribed pain medication.
  • Swelling and bruising. This is normal after surgery, and may last several months. Your swelling may not be obvious since your breasts will be smaller after surgery.
  • Activity. You should take short walks soon after surgery to reduce the risk of blood clots. But do not exercise. Limit activities, including lifting, bending, straining, or sexual activity, until your surgeon gives approval.
  • Sleeping. Placing pillows under your upper back and head will keep the area elevated and relieve pressure. A pillow under your knees may keep you from rolling in your sleep.
  • Bathing. Ask your surgeon when you can shower or bathe. You might not be able to wash your hair since you will not be able to raise your hands over your head. A good option is to use a sink with a handheld sprayer and ask a friend to help.
  • Stitches. Most patients return to have stitches and sutures removed about 10 days after surgery.

First Weeks

  • Returning to Work. Most women can return to work within two to three weeks after reduction surgery, if their job does not entail physical activity.
  • Exercise. You should not engage in strenuous activity until you have your doctor’s permission, which is typically after three or four weeks.  In addition, you should not lift anything over five pounds and not raise anything over your head.

First Months

  • Activity. You will be allowed to return to normal activities gradually. Most will be allowed to resume heavy physical activity about four to six weeks after surgery.
  • Recovery. Swelling will subside over the course of a few months, but complete healing may take up to one year.

If you have questions about breast reduction surgery and recovery, please call our offices for information. If you are considering surgery, a personal consultation will ensure you receive information pertinent to your needs.

Greenberg Cosmetic Surgery
Manhattan Office
461 Park Ave S
Manhattan, NY 10016
(212) 319-4999







Woodbury Office
160 Crossways Park Dr
Woodbury, NY 11797
(516) 364-4200







Southampton Office
365 County Rd 39A  Ste 7
Southampton, NY 11968
(631) 287-4999







Boca Raton Office
1599 NW 9th Avenue
Boca Raton, FL 33486
(561) 208-1080