Your Breast Reduction Surgical Experience

The goal of your plastic surgeon and the entire staff is to make your surgical experience as easy and comfortable for you as possible.

How should I prepare for surgery?

Depending on your age, or if you have a history of breast cancer in your family, your plastic surgeon may recommend a baseline mammogram before surgery and another mammographic examination some months after surgery. This will help to detect any future changes in your breast tissue. Following breast reduction, you will still be able to perform breast self-examination. Breast reduction surgery will not increase your risk of developing breast cancer.

If you are a smoker, you will be asked to stop smoking well in advance of surgery. Aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs can cause increased bleeding, so you should avoid taking these medications for a period of time before surgery. Your surgeon will provide you with additional preoperative instructions.

Breast reduction surgery may be performed on an inpatient or outpatient basis. If you are to stay in the hospital or surgical facility, it will most likely be for only one night. Whether you are released the day of surgery or the following day, you will need someone to drive you home and to stay with you for the next day or two.

What will the day of surgery be like?

Your breast reduction surgery may be performed in a hospital, free-standing ambulatory facility or office-based surgical suite.

Usually, a general anesthetic is administered, so that you will be asleep throughout the procedure. When surgery is completed, you will be taken into a recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored. In many instances, small drain tubes will have been placed in your breasts to help avoid the accumulation of fluids. Gauze dressings will be placed on your breasts and covered with an elastic bandage or surgical bra.

How will I look and feel initially?

The day after surgery, you will be encouraged to get out of bed for short periods of time. After several days, you will be able to move about more comfortably. Straining, bending and lifting must be avoided, however, since these activities might cause increased swelling or even bleeding. You may be instructed to sleep on your back to avoid pressure on your breasts.

Any surgical drains will be removed a day or two after surgery, at which time your dressings may also be changed or removed. You will be instructed to wear a support bra for a few weeks, until the swelling and discoloration of your breasts diminishes. Generally, stitches will be removed in stages over a period of approximately three weeks, beginning about one week after surgery.

You may notice that you feel less sensation in the nipple and areola areas. This usually is temporary. It may, however, take weeks, months or even more than a year before sensation returns to normal. Your breasts may also require some time to assume a more natural shape. Incisions will initially be red or pink in color. They will remain this way for many months following surgery.

When can I resume my normal activities?

After breast reduction surgery, it is often possible to return to work within just a couple of weeks, depending on your job. In many instances, you can resume most of your normal activities, including some form of mild exercise, after several weeks. You may continue to experience some mild, periodic discomfort during this time, but such feelings are normal. Severe pain should be reported to your doctor.

Any sexual activity should be avoided for a minimum of one week, and your plastic surgeon may advise you to wait longer. After that, care must be taken to be extremely gentle with your breasts for at least the next six weeks.

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