Reduce Bruising and Swelling after Breast Reduction Surgery


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7 Ways To Reduce Bruising and Swelling after Breast Reduction Surgery

No matter the size or shape of the breasts, they are all naturally imperfect. Unfortunately, global studies have shown that more than 70% of women are unhappy with how their breasts look, and many see breast cosmetic surgery as a logical step.

When it comes to breasts, bigger is not always better. Big heavy breasts can cause back, neck, and shoulder pain. They might look disproportional with the rest of your body. This is why many women opt for breast reduction. Breast reduction improves your natural proportions and gives you a smaller, symmetrical, youthful, and more comfortable pair of breasts.

Dr. Craig Rubinstein is one of the best accredited plastic surgeons here in Australia. His passion for his profession sets him apart from others. Dr Rubinstein specializes in cosmetic breast surgery. Together with his dedicated care team, you’ll be offered a customized plan for all your breast reduction procedure goals and needs.

Before undergoing any cosmetic procedure, it’s important to know what lies ahead and after your surgery.  The recovery process of breast reduction surgery is fairly smooth, comprising mainly of bruising and swelling.

What is Breast Reduction Surgery?

Breast reduction surgery, also known medically as breast reduction mammaplasty, is a cosmetic procedure that involves the surgical removal of excess breast tissue, fat, and stretched-out skin, to give you breasts that are in proportion with your body shape and size. If you have large sagging breasts and want smaller lighter ones, boob reduction is the surgery for you.

While many women choose breast reduction mammaplasty to alleviate discomfort associated with heavy drooping breasts, such as neck and back pain, the cosmetic perks of boob reduction should not be ignored. Breast reduction surgery can help firm and lift your breasts, eliminate sagging breasts, correct breast asymmetry and enhance your overall silhouette.

What to Expect During Recovery from Breast Reduction Surgery?

Your chest will be covered in post-operative garments such as a bra, binder or bandages. In the first few days following your boob reduction surgery, you will experience some soreness and discomfort, this is when bruising and swelling are at their worst. In your one-week follow-up appointment with Dr Rubinstein, you will have sutures and drains removed (if drains are used) and the surgical area will be cleaned. You’ll notice that most of the pain, bruising, and swelling have decreased significantly at this time. In fact, a lot of women feel comfortable enough to drive and can return to office work or light duties 7-10 days after surgery.

The pain, bruising, and swelling will decrease over time in the weeks following your breast mammaplasty. Dr Rubinstein will advise you when you can start returning to your usual routine. However, you will need to wait to do any strenuous job or activity for at least three weeks. In fact, this is usually discouraged until you have fully recovered.

It usually takes six to eight weeks before you can return to your full normal life routine such as gym classes, swimming, running etc. You will feel a newfound lightness in your chest area and your general body weight will feel lighter because you will be less restricted by your breasts.

Why Do Bruising and Swelling Happen After Breast Reduction Surgery?

During breast mammaplasty, several surgical techniques may be used that involve a significant amount of breast tissue manipulation. Bruising and swelling after boob reduction is your body’s natural reaction to any form of injury. Both are common and you should expect their occurrence after any cosmetic procedure.

Bruising appears as an area of discoloured skin around your chest. It is the result of ruptured underlying blood vessels that are inevitably damaged during your breast reduction surgery. Blood will collect into certain areas, giving your skin its black/purple colour.

Swelling, also known as oedema, is the accumulation of fluid inside your blood vessels. Similarly, it is also a result of “trauma” experienced during your procedure. In the area of injury, damaged cells release chemicals that increase your blood vessels’ permeability. The fluid accumulated contains white blood cells, and other chemicals that help kick start the healing process.

How Long Do Bruising and Swelling Last After Breast Reduction Surgery?

The amount of time required for your bruising and swelling to disappear depends on;

  • Your natural healing rate
  • The extent of the procedure done
  • How well you follow instructions regarding what you can and can’t do
  • Healthy eating
  • Wearing your post-op garments
  • And, more

Bruising and swelling reach their peak approximately three days following your breast reduction surgery. After about a week, the majority of your swelling will start to decrease. The remaining bulk of your swelling will continue to wane over the following six weeks.  Any lingering swelling should be gone in two to four months after your initial breast surgery date. This may be so minimal only you will notice.

So, while you may enjoy the prompt relief from your neck, back, and shoulder pain immediately after your boob reduction, it’s important to be patient and note that it may be a while before your new breasts completely settle.

What Are the Best Ways to Reduce Bruising and Swelling After Breast Reduction Surgery?

Breast reduction is a rewarding procedure that alleviates both physical and psychological discomfort associated with large heavy breasts. Bruising and swelling are common after most surgeries. They shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your newfound sense of freedom to wear whatever you want, or from participating in physical activities you previously steered away from. Here are some tips to deal with bruising and swelling after breast mammaplasty:

Wear Your Compression Bra

Before you’re discharged after your procedure, your plastic surgeon will instruct you to wear a compression bra for at least a month’s time. Both day and night. Compression garments provide support to your sensitive breasts and help quicken your recovery. The pressure from your support bra prevents blood from seeping out from your damaged blood vessels, therefore limiting your post-op bruising. Swelling is also reduced, due to increased blood circulation to your injured breast incision sites, flushing out any chemicals and toxins there.  Wearing a garment also reminds you that you are still in the healing phase even if you’re feeling great.

Keep Active

After your breast mammaplasty, plenty of rest is necessary and welcome. However, as tempting as your bed might be, light activity and gentle walks are beneficial as soon as two days following your boob reduction procedure. Moving your body promotes blood flow and reduces postoperative swelling. It also decreases the risk of developing blood clots (which can be a serious complication after surgery).

Note that any activity involving reaching above your head or lifting anything heavy should be absolutely avoided in the first weeks. You can ask Dr, Rubinstein for some safe recommended exercise after your procedure. We do recommend putting your gym membership on hold and can supply a medical letter if needed.

Apply Cold Compresses

Cold temperatures can cause your blood vessels to constrict, decreasing blood flow and fluid leakage. This will not only help with your swelling but also limits the spread of further bruising. In the first three days following your breast reduction surgery, apply cold compresses like ice packs or bags of frozen peas on your surgical site. Make sure you wrap them in a towel and avoid any direct application to your surgical breast incisions. You may use cold compresses multiple times a day, in 15 minutes intervals with a 20-minute break in between.


Sleep Right

Sleep is an essential component of any cosmetic procedure’s recovery process. Breast reduction surgery is no exception. Having a good night’s sleep is more than how many hours you get in each night. It’s also the position you sleep in. After breast surgery, the best sleep position is on your back with your upper body resting at a 30 to 45-degree angle. This allows your breasts to rest in a relaxed position, without any strain tugging on your surgical incisions. This position also causes your blood to flow away from your sore breasts, decreasing pain, bruising, and swelling in the process.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Good nutrition plays an important role in your body’s healing process post-breast reduction surgery. It helps manage postoperative bruising and swelling and boosts immunity and breast tissue repair. Make sure to include food rich in proteins, fibers (berries, broccoli, beans, nuts), complex carbohydrates (bananas, vegetables, whole grain), iron, and vitamins (Vitamin K and C) in your diet.

Avoid food with high salt content, as tempting as it may be. Salt causes your body to retain fluid inside its blood vessels, worsening your bruises and swelling.

Stay Hydrated

It may seem counterintuitive to drink a copious amount of water when you’re suffering from swelling, but in actuality, staying hydrated can reduce your swelling. The more you drink, the more your body will feel it’s unnecessary to retain fluid inside its tissues. Adequate fluid intake encourages your blood circulation and aids nutrient-rich blood to reach your injury site for a speedier recovery. We suggest you drink 2 L of water daily and avoid the use of any supplements that may interfere with your water balance like caffeinated beverages and diuretics.


Your plastic surgeon will prescribe you a list of medications after your breast reduction surgery. This includes pain medication to manage discomfort and medications like Arnica and Arginaid that reduce bruising and swelling. Arnica is a herb that grows in Siberia and Central Europe. It exists in both tablet and gel form and has been known to reduce bruising and swelling following surgery. Arginaid is an oral supplement containing Vitamin C, E, and Zinc. It has a unique nutritional combination that encourages wound healing after your breast mammaplasty.

Saggy breasts. what are my options

FAQ’s about bruising and swelling following breast reduction surgery

When should I start worrying about my bruises and swellings after breast reduction surgery?

  • Bruises and swelling after breast reduction are normal and raise no cause for alarm. However, you should contact your surgeon if:
    • You have an increase in your bruising and swelling particularly on one side
    • Your bruising and swelling show no signs of improvement after a week
    • Signs of irritation and redness increase along your incision lines

How swollen can breast get after breast reduction surgery?

  • Your breasts will feel tight right after your procedure and swelling will reach its peak after day three. The extent of your swelling is hard to predict as it is an individual experience and all people are different. The best thing to do is to follow instructions from your surgeon and ask questions if you’re unsure about anything.

Can ice help after breast reduction surgery?

  • Cold compresses are most effective in the first 48 to 72 hours following your breast reduction surgery. After which you can start using heat pads. Heat treatment is ideal for more chronic conditions. It can help relax and loosen the tissue around your injured site and stimulates blood flow for faster healing. Always follow surgeon instructions.

Can breast massages reduce swelling after breast reduction surgery?

  • Ask your plastic surgeon when it’s safe to start performing breast massages. It is usually not advisable during the first-week post-surgery. Furthermore, the right technique is vital, when done properly, breast massage can increase blood flow around your boob reduction site and decrease swelling.

Further Reading – Medical Sources:

About Dr Craig Rubinstein

Dr Craig Rubinstein FRACS is one of Melbourne’s Best Specialist Plastic Surgeons for breast and tummy surgery.

He has been rated as a Top 3 Plastic Surgeon in Melbourne and rated a Top 5 Plastic Surgeon on the ‘Best in Australia’ website. 

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

He uses only the highest quality Motiva breast implants and is renowned for his natural-looking, long-lasting results.


Next Steps in Your Surgical Journey

Want more information about your Procedure?

Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery

About Your First Consultation

  • Dr Rubinstein’s Consultation fee is $300.
  • A referral from your GP or your specialist is helpful but not essential.
  • You need a medicare referral in order to claim any medicare benefits or Health Insurance for plastic surgery,
  • Please contact the Patient Care Team at Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery today to book your consultation.

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.

*Disclaimer: Individual results can vary significantly from patient to patient. The information we provide is general. For further information on what to expect for your preferred procedures, arrange to see one of our Specialist Plastic Surgeons for a full history and surgical consultation. Read further information about surgical outcome variability on our Disclaimer page.