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Post-Surgery Instructions: Breast Reduction

Once your surgery is completed, you must follow all the instructions given to you in order to heal properly and have a good outcome.

The following instructions are your obligation. Use this as a checklist of progress as you heal. Included are normal post-surgical experiences and key health considerations that may be a cause of concern.

Normal Post-Operative Symptoms

  • Tightness in the chest region and stiffness, tingling, burning or intermittent shooting pain
    These are normal experiences as the skin, muscles and tissue stretch to accommodate your implants, and as sensory nerves heal. Pain medication and muscle relaxants will help you cope with any discomfort. If you have drains, you may experience additional localized discomfort.
  • Consistent sharp pain should be reported to our office immediately.
  • Hypersensitivity of nipples or lack of sensitivity
    This is normal and will gradually resolve over time. You may also experience a small amount of fluid or milk seeping through the nipples. If this becomes painful or excessive notify our office immediately.
  • Shiny skin or any itchy feeling
    Swelling can cause the breasts skin to appear shiny. As the healing process advances, you may also find a mild to severe itchy feeling of the breasts. An antihistamine like Benadryl can help to alleviate severe, constant itchiness. If the skin becomes red and hot to the touch, contact our office immediately.
  • Asymmetry, the breasts look different, or heal differently
    Breasts may look or feel quite different from one another in the days following surgery. This is normal. Although no two breasts in nature or following surgery are perfectly symmetrical, breast massage and time will produce breasts that are similar in shape, position and size.

Call the office immediately if you experience any of the following

  • A high fever, (over 101 degrees) severe nausea and vomiting, continued dizziness or incoherent behavior, such as hallucinations.
  • Any pain that cannot be controlled by your pain medication.
  • Bright red skin that is hot to the touch.
  • Excessive bleeding or fluid seeping from the nose or mouth.
  • A severely misshapen appearance, excessive bruising or fluid retention that is localized to the side of your face or nose.

Day of surgery instructions

You will only be released to the care of a responsible adult. All of these instructions must be clear to the adult who will monitor your health and support you, around the clock in the first 24 hours following surgery.

  • Rest, but not bed rest
    While rest is important in the early stages of healing, equally important is that you are ambulatory: meaning that you are walking under your own strength. Spend 10 minutes every 2 hours engaged in light walking indoors as you recover.
  • Recline with your head and chest slightly elevated above your lower body
  • Good nutrition
    Fluids are critical following surgery. Stick to non-carbonated, non-alcoholic, caffeine-free and green tea-free beverages including fruit juices and water, milk and yogurt drinks. You must consume at least 8 ounces of fluid every 2 hours. Stick with soft, bland, nutritious food for the first 24 hours.
  • Take all medication, exactly as prescribed
    Oral pain medication, antibiotics and other medications.
  • Change your incision dressings
    Your incisions will seep fluid and some blood for a short time after surgery. Keep dressings clean and dry. A cotton swab with peroxide is appropriate for cleansing incisions. Do not remove any steri-strips over your stitches. Apply anti-bacterial ointment over the steri-strips, and then apply a gauze pad. If you have a drain placed in your incisions, carefully follow the instructions for drain care and record drained fluid on the Drain Care Instructions and Log.
  • Wear a support bra or your surgical garment around the clock
    Follow the instructions specifically and wear this garment at all times.
  • Do not smoke
    Smoking can greatly impair your safety prior to surgery and you ability to heal following surgery. You must not smoke.
  • Do not engage in any stressful activities. Do not lift your hands over your head. Do not lift anything heavier than a paperback book. Take care of no one, and let others tend to you.

Two To Seven Days Following Surgery

During this time you will progress with each day that passes. Ease into your daily activities. You will receive clearance to begin driving or return to work at your post-operative visit..

  • Continue to cleanse wounds as directed; you may shower
    Take a warm, not hot shower. Do not take a bath. Limit your shower to 10 minutes. Do not remove any steri-strips. Do not rub your incisions. Apply a fragrance free moisturizer to breast and surrounding skin, however not on your incisions.
  • Take antibiotic medications and supplements as directed
    Take pain medication and muscle relaxants only as needed. You may wish to switch from prescriptive pain medication to acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Continue to wear your bra around the clock
  • Do not resume any exercise other than regular walking
    Walking is essential every day to prevent the formation of blood clots.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Do not smoke. Do not consume alcohol.

One To Four Weeks Following Surgery

As you resume your normal daily activities, you must continue proper care and healing.

  • Continue wound care as directed
  • Refrain from weight-bearing exercise, twisting or lifting anything over your head
    No tennis, golf, softball or other sports with similar swinging motions. Avoid aerobic exercise that may cause a lot of bounce. You may begin range of motion exercises but not with any weight, pressure or resistance of any kind.
  • Do not smoke
    While incisions may have sealed, smoking deprives your body of necessary oxygen that can result in poorly healed, wide, raised scars.
  • Continue to wear a proper support bra
    The bra you first wore following surgery may feel somewhat loose. You may replace it, however no under wires for 6 weeks. You may sleep without a bra; however a camisole with built-in shelf support can be comfortable and provides added support as you continue to heal.
  • You may sleep flat
    However do not sleep on your stomach. If you are a side sleeper, a soft pillow under your mid-back and shoulders may offer more comfort and support than a single pillow under your head.
  • Practice good sun protection
    Do not expose your breasts to direct sunlight. If you are outdoors, apply at least an SPF 30 to the chest area at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Your chest region and breast skin are highly susceptible to sunburn or the formation of irregular, darkened pigmentation.

Six weeks following surgery

Healing will progress and your breasts will settle into a more final shape and position.

  • You may ease into your regular fitness routine
    However realize that your upper body may require some time to return to previous strength.
  • You may resume wearing under wires, although these are not necessary.
  • Discomfort or tightness and tingling will resolve.
    Any lingering nipple sensitivity or lack of sensation should begin to greatly improve.
  • No need to resume smoking
    You have now gone 10 weeks (4 weeks prior to surgery and 6 weeks following) without a cigarette. For your long-term health, there is no need to resume smoking.

Your first year

  • Practice monthly breast self exam
  • Continue healthy nutrition, fitness and sun protection
  • Your scars will continue to refine
    If they become raised, red or thickened, or appear to widen, contact our office. Early intervention is important to achieving well-healed scars. Scars are generally refined to fine incision lines one year after surgery.
  • A one-year post surgery follow-up is recommended
    However you may call our office at any time with your concerns or for needed follow-up.

Your body will change with age.
The appearance of your breasts will change too. You may wish to have your implants replaced or to undergo revision surgery to help maintain your appearance throughout life. Contact our office with any of your questions or concerns, at any time.