Friday, September 10, 2010

What is the Recovery Process After A Breast Reduction?

Breast Reduction is a surgical procedure to reduce the size of very large breasts. Very large breasts, or macromastia, may cause neck, back, and shoulder pain. Reducing the volume yet enhancing the appearance of your breasts is possible with surgery. Recovery after surgery is surprisingly short and not too painful.

Breast Reduction surgery is typically done on an out-patient basis. The procedure takes about 2-4 hours, depending on your individual case and amount of surgery required. Your recovery depends on the amount of breast tissue that needs to be removed, the amount of tightening performed, and the actual procedure being done, as well as your individual pain tolerance.

The two main surgical ways to perform a breast reduction include an "upside down T incision" (inferior pedicle breast reduction), and a "lollipop" incision (vertical limb or vertical mastopexy breast reduction).

The type of surgical approach and incision depends on your breasts, the amount of breast reduction needed, and the surgeon's preference. There is an increased preference for the "lollipop" incision over the past several years, since it has a slightly less noticeable scar length.

The recovery after breast reduction takes several weeks to months. Most of the healing occurs and swelling disappears within the first month or two after your operation, but it takes a total of 6-12 months for all of the healing to complete. It will also take several months for your breasts to "drop" and look more natural, as opposed to the swollen appearance they have right after surgery. Every patient is different, and communicating closely with your plastic surgeon is the best way to have realistic expectations about recovery after your breast reduction.

Your breasts will be swollen and possibly bruised right after surgery.

Compression in a surgical bra, icing, rest, and elevation of your chest will all help to lower the amount of swelling and pain you have right after surgery.

Using a pain pump right after surgery will also decrease your pain. Pain medicine can be delivered directly into you breast tissue, which gives you a large amount of pain relief directly to the areas of surgery. This usually translates into taking less pain medication after surgery. Patients can start using non prescription strength anti-inflammatories several days after surgery. Everyone has a different pain tolerance, so your recovery after surgery may differ.

Generally, patients in my practice return to office work within one week after surgery. Light exercise is possible right after surgery. However, wait to do any vigorous exercise until 2-4 weeks after your breast reduction surgery. This is because you need to wait for the skin incisions to fully heal.

Patients will only need antibiotics for several days after surgery to prevent infection. It is not common to need antibiotics for greater than 5 days after a breast reduction surgery.

You should be are placed in a surgical compression bra right after your breast reduction procedure. You wear this type of bra or a sports bra, for several weeks after surgery to allow the swelling to reduce, as well as to maintain an overall aesthetic shape. Your plastic surgeon will go over with you when it is safe to resume wearing a regular bra.