Instructions for Recovering from Breast Reduction
NIGHT OF BREAST REDUCTION SURGERY
- Movement is Important. Make sure to get out of bed and be up and walking around immediately after your surgery. When lying down in bed or on the couch, make sure you are moving your legs and ankles. Take deep breaths frequently to keep your lungs clear.
- Sleep. Sleep on your back with your head elevated about 30-40 degrees (2-3 pillows). Do not sleep on your side. Keeping your body more upright will minimize swelling. Continue this for one week.
MEDICATIONS AFTER BREAST REDUCTION
- Pain. You will be prescribed a pain medication for post-operative pain control. If your discomfort after surgery is not strong you are welcomed to take Tylenol in place of the prescribed medication. Do not take the Tylenol with the pain medication, as most often the medication you are prescribed will have Tylenol in it. Do not exceed 4,000 mg of Tylenol in any 24-hour time period. Take medication with food to minimize the risk of nausea.
- Nausea. If you are experiencing nausea, which is common after general anesthesia as well as a known side effect of some stronger pain medications, we advise that you take your nausea medication. You may have been given a Scopolamine patch that is placed behind your ear. This will deliver anti-nausea medication for three days after its placement.
- Constipation. You will experience constipation if taking narcotic pain relievers. Miralax or other over the counter laxatives are recommended. Do not wait to take until you are constipated. Begin treatment with narcotic use.
- Medications to Avoid. Take only those medications approved or prescribed by your surgeon. Avoid medications containing aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Ibuprofen, others) for two weeks before and after surgery. These medications may increase bleeding.
- Substances to Avoid. Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine, for these will dramatically slow the healing process.
NUTRITION AFTER BREAST REDUCTION
- Diet. A light low-fat diet is best after surgery. You may start a regular diet after your surgery as long as you are not feeling nauseated or vomiting.
- Hydration. Stay hydrated by drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day. Avoid alcohol for two weeks and while you are still having to take pain medication.
ACTIVITY AFTER BREAST REDUCTION
- Exercise. Normal daily activity may be resumed a few days after surgery. Exercise may be resumed 1-2 weeks after surgery. Remember to start easy and build back up to your previous exercise levels. Just know that swelling may transiently be worse with exercise.
- Arm Movement. Limitations are based on your pain. There are no restrictions but if it hurts, please don’t do it. washing and/or drying your hair is fine.
- Compression Bra. Expect to wear a compression bra the entire first week, and then as wanted or suggested by Dr. Anderson thereafter. The garment should fit snug but not too tight that you have trouble breathing or you develop wounds or blisters from the compression. Wear your garment at all times except for when you are showering or to wash it. This will help with minimizing swelling and help with healing.
- Driving. Do NOT operate a vehicle or make important decisions until you have been off pain medications for 24 hours. Use good judgment.
- Return to work. Most patients require approximately 5-7days off work depending on their job responsibilities. Returning to work with a light schedule initially or even part-time can be beneficial as well.
- Sexual Intercourse. Sexual activity can be resumed when incisions have adequately healed and you feel ready. There are no restrictions.
BATHING AFTER BREAST REDUCTION
- Showering. You may shower with assistance the day following surgery. Remove your garment. Incisions are covered with a waterproof dressing and require no attention. Replace garment after your shower.
- Hot Tubs/Baths/Swimming Pools. No tub baths or Jacuzzi until your incisions have healed, and approved by your surgeon, which is usually around 2 weeks. It is best to wait one month for hot tubs as they tend to have more bacteria than regular chlorinated swimming pools.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR INCISIONS AFTER BREAST REDUCTION
- Incisions. Your incisions are covered with a waterproof dressing. No dressing changes or incision care is required. After your first postop visit, the dressing will be removed and special tape will be applied that aids with scar healing. Additional tape is provided so you can continue a planned scar regimen.
- Stitches. All stitches are dissolvable.
- Sun Exposure. Avoid or minimize sun exposure. Use an SPF30 or greater when outdoors. Even mild sunburn can worsen swelling and irritate a healing incision.
- Scar gel. Scars are small and minimal and may take up to a year to fully heal. After your incisions have completely healed and when your doctor has told you it is safe, you can begin to use silicone based gel on your scars to improve healing.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER BREAST REDUCTION
- Drainage. Drainage can occur from the incision sites for the first 24-72 hours. The drainage will be blood-tinged. You may use gauze or a light pad to reinforce post-op dressings if needed.
- Bruising. You can expect to have bruising. Most bruises will heal after about 2-3 weeks. The bruise will go from a purplish color to a yellow/green shade as it starts to resolve.
- Swelling. Swelling is to be expected for weeks and sometimes months. The swelling can improve with intermittent rest and compression garments. Exercise and physical activity can transiently worsen swelling but is encouraged.
- Itching. Itching at the incision sites is normal for a few days. You may take Benadryl to help with this.
- Pain. It is normal to experience tightness, pressure, soreness, itchiness, and fatigue for several days to weeks following surgery as your body recovers.
- Sensory Changes in Skin. You may feel reduced or heightened sensation in the nipples, incision sites, and breast tissue. This is normal. You can expect return of normal sensation after a few weeks to months.
- Final Result. It may take about 3-6 months to see the final results.
DO NOT’S AFTER BREAST REDUCTION
- Do NOT apply hydrogen peroxide to incision sites. Keep postop dressings in place until follow-up.
- DO NOT soak in baths, Jacuzzis or hot tubs until all incisions have fully healed.
- DO NOT take Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen or other blood thinners until your surgeon advises you it is safe.
- Do NOT apply heating pads or ice packs to the treated areas unless otherwise instructed by your surgeon.
EMERGENCY SITUATIONS AFTER BREAST REDUCTION
- Signs of Infection. Spreading redness, worsening swelling, increased drainage or drainage of pus, worsening pain and warmth at incision site. Temperature over 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Excessive Bleeding. If the dressings are saturated with bright red blood and you are having to make very frequent dressing changes.
- Other Emergency Situations. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chest pain, lightheadedness that does not quickly resolve, severe vomiting, pain or asymmetric swelling in your legs.
SHOPPING LIST AFTER BREAST REDUCTION
- Prescriptions. Fill prescriptions prior to your surgery date if given.
- Compression Bra: provided to you by The Naderi Center.
- Tylenol (Acetaminophen). Alternative to narcotic pain medication if the pain is not severe. Do NOT take NSAIDS.
- Laxative (Miralax, Colace, Milk and Magnesia). Helps with constipation that may be caused by anesthesia or narcotic pain medications.