Recovering After Breast Reduction Mammoplasty

Breast Reduction surgery, also known as Reduction Mammoplasty, is a procedure used to remove excess fat, tissue, and skin from the breasts. Large breasts can have an impact on an individual’s mental and physical health. The weight of excess breast tissue can impair one’s ability to lead an active life, maintain posture, and even sleep.

But what’s the recovery of a reduction mammoplasty like? Read on to find out.


Breast reduction surgery can be performed as a day procedure. Dr Rubinstein prefers you stay overnight in the hospital, for both close monitoring and to ensure you have pain relief.

Before leaving the hospital, a pamphlet of instructions will be given to you for your recovery. This will also include a list of medications to be taken as well as when to take them and what they are used for.

The First Week

Immediately after your Breast Reduction procedure, you will most likely be admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay. This is useful as it allows your doctor and nurses to keep a close eye on you in the immediate postoperative period. The following morning, the nurses will visit you in the hospital and check your breasts before leaving. Once you are ready and you are given the all-clear, you will be able to go home.

Any post-operative pain is typically well-tolerated with medicines. Post-operative nausea is not uncommon and you will be given medications both during your surgery, and to take home to help you with this. It’s important that you have organised some help at home during the first week. We usually recommend a friend or family member stay with you to help with household chores such as cooking, cleaning etc.

Recovery Tips – Breast Reduction Surgery

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for support.
  • Take your pain medications as directed.
  • Finish your course of antibiotics, even if you don’t think you need them.
  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is an important part of the healing process.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Wear your compression bra all the time. Your compression bra should only be taken off when you shower.
  • Let your nurses and/or doctor know of any issues if/when they arise.

What to wear after breast reduction surgery?

For women who undergo breast reduction surgery, post-operative care is essential. Once the gauze and dressings are removed, you will need to wear a breast reduction bra (compression garment) for several weeks to control swelling and keep your breasts secure.

After a breast reduction, wearing a post-surgical bra is absolutely essential. They provide many advantages that help you heal and recover faster. For starters, a post-surgical bra compresses the area, promoting proper blood circulation. Proper blood circulation has several advantages in itself, both decreasing inflammation and reducing fluid which helps prevent the formation of hematomas.


Considering breast reduction surgery? Information is just one click away.

Breast Reduction Download Guide

Possible risks and complications after Breast Reduction

  • Bleeding.
  • Infection.
  • Poor reaction to the anaesthesia including; nausea and vomiting.
  • Bruising.
  • Scarring.
  • Removal or loss of sensation in the nipples and skin surrounding the nipples (areola).
  • Difficulty or inability to breastfeed.
  • Asymmetry of the surgically altered breasts. This may lead to the need for further surgery to change their appearance.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Read more here.

FAQs About Recovering After Breast Reduction Surgery

When can I drive?

  • From 1 week post-operatively. Provided you are comfortable to do so.

When can I lift my child?

  • This depends on their age and weight.
  • It is best to avoid picking up your child for 1-2 weeks. However, you can modify this movement and gently lift your child from the next day.

When can I return to household chores?

  • From 1-2 weeks post-operatively, provided you are comfortable to do so.

When can I wash my hair?

  • From 3-4 days post-operatively, or when comfortable to do so.

When can I fly?

  • It is best to stay close to your surgeon for a minimum of 10 days following your surgery.

How long do I need to take off work?

  • This depends on your job.
  • Most patients can return to office duties from 7 days post-operatively.
  • It is recommended that you take 3-4 weeks off if you have a more hands-on job.

When can I go back to the gym?

  • You should avoid exercise for approximately 6 weeks.
  • Light walking can be commenced in 1 week.

What is the fastest way to recover from a breast reduction?

  • Take your medications that have been prescribed and follow the instructions given to you by your Surgeon and Nurses.

Do breasts descend after breast reduction?

  • Your breasts will begin to descend again following Breast Reduction surgery. This is inevitable. However, wearing a good supportive bra and avoiding significant weight fluctuations will help to reduce this.
  • Menstrual influences and hormonal changes, including pregnancy, will also have an impact on your breast shape and size.

How long do I have to sleep elevated after breast reduction?

  • Sleeping elevated helps reduce pain and inflammation.
  • It is recommended that you sleep inclined at a 30-45 degrees angle for at least 2 weeks.

Can I lay on my side after breast reduction?

  • It is recommended to sleep on your back for 2 weeks post-operatively to reduce swelling.
  • After 2 weeks, you may resume sleeping in a position that is comfortable for you.

Does a breast reduction include a lift?

  •  Yes. While reducing the breast volume, the breast will also be reshaped and tightened to lift the breast and Nipple Areola Complex.

How small can a breast reduction go?

  • It usually depends on your size, breast composition, and goals. During your consultation, your Surgeon will help you determine the best plan.

How tight should a compression bra be after breast reduction?

  • The fit for a post-surgery bra should be snug but not tight.
  • The best indicator that your bra fits correctly is that it’s comfortable, and although you might feel some pressure, it isn’t excessive or painful.  

How long does the swelling last after a breast reduction?

  • Most swelling subsides within three to four weeks after surgery.
  • However, minor swelling can last up to 12 months.

How bad is the pain after a breast reduction?

  • Breast Reduction is typically well-tolerated.
  • In the first few days following your surgery, it’s normal to experience some pain and discomfort.
  • Your breasts and areas around your breasts may be bruised and swollen.
  • Keeping up regular pain relief will help to relieve this.

Do your nipples still get hard after breast reduction?

  • Some women lose sensation in their nipples after a breast reduction, including their ability to become erect.
  • This is because there can be damage to the nipple’s nerve supply during surgery.

Can I wear deodorant after breast reduction?

  • Yes, you may shower and apply deodorant the day after surgery.
  • Gently pat the incisions dry or use a cool setting on your hairdryer to thoroughly dry the dressings.

How long after breast reduction can I use scar cream?

  • Scar treatments typically begin from 8-12 weeks post-operatively.

How long after breast reduction can I smoke?

  • Breast Reduction significantly reduces the blood supply to the skin edges and the nipple/areola.
  • It takes about 1-2 months before the body rebuilds blood supply into these areas. Therefore, you should refrain from smoking for the next 1-2 months.

Medical References for recovering after breast reduction:

About Dr Craig Rubinstein

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Dr Craig Rubinstein FRACS (Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons) is an experienced Melbourne Specialist Plastic Surgeon for breast and abdominoplasty surgery.

Dr Rubinstein offers women personalised abdominoplasty surgery and all forms of cosmetic breast surgery.

BOOK A CONSULTATION (03) 8849 1400

Next Steps in Your Surgical Journey

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Want more information about your Procedure?

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About Your First Consultation

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  • A referral from your GP or specialist is essential.
  • A referral helps when claiming Medicare or Private Health Insurance coverage.
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What to Bring to Your Consultation

  • You are more than welcome to bring a friend or relative to help discuss the information and your choices.
  • Ensure you also take a lot of notes and thoroughly examine the documents provided.
  • Please be aware you may need to undress for a physical exam so wear simple clothes.