Breast reduction surgery involves the removal of breast tissue and excess skin. Aside from reducing breast size, it also reshapes and lifts the breasts, making them feel firmer and improving their appearance. While it is a fairly common procedure, it still requires specific care and precautions before, during, and after surgery.

If you are planning on undergoing breast reduction and lift, here are some of the things you should expect after the surgery. We’ve also listed risks and complications you should watch out for and some tips to help with your recovery.

Things to Expect After Breast Reduction Surgery

Bandages and Dressings

When you wake up from your surgery, your incision site will be covered with gauze and dressings. Your breasts are supported by an elastic bandage, support bra, or a special compression garment. Your doctor will give you instructions on how to change the dressings after cleaning the wound. Wearing a surgical support bra or compression garment may also be recommended for a few weeks to minimize swelling and help the tissues heal according to the desired breast shape.

Drainage Tubes

In some cases, the surgeon temporarily leaves a small thin tube under the skin for a few days. This tube drains any excess fluid or blood that may collect.


Unless your doctor used dissolvable sutures, you would need to have your stitches removed within two weeks after your surgery. Your doctor will ask you to come back often for suture removal around five to ten days after the breast reduction.

Pain and Discomfort

Every person has a different level of tolerance for pain and discomfort. Once the anesthesia wears off, you may just feel some mild discomfort or experience throbbing pain. If you have low pain tolerance, ask your doctor to prescribe some pain reliever, then make sure to follow the correct dosage and use. Your breasts may still feel sore for about two to three weeks after your surgery. You may also experience some itchiness as the wound heals and dries up.


For a couple of weeks after the surgery, your breasts will feel tender and there will be some bruising and swelling. Sometimes, the swelling persists for a few months. This is often a natural part of the healing process. Since you can’t avoid it, you can minimize swelling by keeping your chest elevated even when you’re sitting or sleeping.


Your doctor might prescribe some antibiotics, pain relievers, and other medications you need post-surgery. Make sure to take the full course of the prescribed antibiotics even if you already feel well after a few days. After the stitches are removed, the doctor may also prescribe some ointment to aid in healing and minimize scarring.

Limitation in Movements

During the first week, you will be unable to raise your arms without feeling any pain. Even if you only feel minor discomfort, you should still limit moving your arms upwards until the incision site heals. You should also avoid strenuous activities, but do some light walking to improve blood circulation and boost recovery.

Risks and Complications to Watch Out For

While breast reduction surgery is a relatively safe procedure, it is still a major surgery and has risks involved. Watch out for these risks and complications. Inform your doctor if you experience any of them.

  • Infection that results in redness, tenderness, and swelling
  • Short-term or long-term loss of feeling in breasts or nipples
  • Medication side effects
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Damage to nerves, blood vessels, and other parts of the body
  • Inadequate healing in the nipple area
  • Unusual discharge from the incision site
  • Fever and chills
Tips for Better Healing and Faster Recovery

Each person recovers at a different pace, so don’t panic if you feel that you’re not recovering fast enough. Consult with your doctor and go to your post-surgery checkups. You may also follow these tips to aid in your healing and recovery process.

  1. Avoid getting your incision wet as this increases the risk of infection. Take sponge baths only for the first 48 hours post-surgery and avoid soaking in bathtubs until the incision wound heals completely.
  2. Clean your wound daily with warm water and gentle soap, then pat it dry right after.
  3. Do not sleep flat on your back or your side. Place pillows under your back to keep your chest elevated while sitting or sleeping.
  4. Get support and care from family or friends. You need extra care and lots of rest especially during the first 72 hours after your surgery. Ask someone to stay with you to help you with your medication, food, childcare, and other daily activities.
  5. Reduce sodium intake and increase water intake. Staying hydrated supports better healing by flushing out anesthesia and excess fluids.
  6. Wear a soft supportive bra for six weeks even while sleeping to ensure proper wound healing. This also helps keep breasts in good shape.
  7. Use an ice or cold pack to reduce swelling in the first few days after surgery. Place a thin cloth over your breast and put the ice pack over it for 10 to 20 minutes every one to two hours.
  8. Ask your surgeon first before taking over-the-counter pain medication or resuming your maintenance medications.
  9. Do not lift anything over your head for two to three weeks. Also, avoid lifting, pushing, or pulling objects heavier than two to five kilograms for six weeks after the surgery.
  10. Get clearance from your doctor before you resume your normal day-to-day activities including exercising, driving, sexual activity, and work routine.
New Lifestyle for a New You

Your breast reduction surgery comes with lifestyle changes to maintain the new appearance of your breasts. Make sure to talk with your surgeon on how to take care of your incisions and keep your breasts looking beautiful.

To ensure that you get the best possible results from your breast reduction and lift, only get the procedure from trusted surgeons in state-of-the-art facilities such as Palmer Cosmetic Surgery.