Many of my Perth breast reduction or breast lift patients ask questions about recovery after surgery.

Here are some answers to some common questions:

1) Is recovery after breast reduction or breast lift surgery painful?

  • While discomfort or pain after surgery is to be expected, women usually mention that breast reduction or breast lift surgery is a lot less painful than what they expected. Generally people comment that it’s more ‘discomfort or pain limited to the incisions’, rather than pain within the breasts or over the chest.

  • Some parts of the operation can be more tender though: liposuction to the side of the breast can cause a bit of tenderness, and if the breast tissue is used to auto-augment your breast (like an implant) then the sutures can pull and cause a bit more tenderness.

  • You will need some post-operative pain medication, and the Anaesthetist will discuss this with you. Regular paracetamol and anti-inflammatories are very effective in reducing your post-op pain/discomfort levels.

2) Will I be tired after breast reduction or breast lift surgery?

  • You’ll feel a bit tired for first few days: the effects of anaesthesia, your body using energy for healing, plus a sleepless night before, or after surgery (hospitals can be noisy!) all combine to make tiredness after breast reduction surgery pretty common. You can plan for this by trying to organise some things before surgery – have somewhere comfortable to rest, have some meals cooked, have people to help you, and have some Netflix/Stan shows to watch.

  • After the initial few days you’ll find your sleeping improves, your tiredness settles, and you’ll feel more alert and energetic.

3) What will my dressings be after breast reduction or breast lift surgery?

  • I prefer to use thin and comfortable adhesive dressings for my breast surgery patients. These dressings can get gently wet in the shower, and can then be patted dry or dried with a hair dresser to keep them adhesive.

  • It’s normal for parts of the dressing (usually around the nipple or at the bottom of the vertical incision) to have spotting from blood or fluid after the operation. These dressings are replaced at your first post-operative appointment. If the spotting seems excessive or has you worried, then don’t hesitate to contact the rooms.

4) What do I need to do to my scar once the dressings are removed?

  • Your initial dressings are removed at your first post-operative appointment at week one, and then replaced every week until healed. Once healed you can then apply emollient to the scars to help keep them moisturised and protected.

  • Why emollient? Generally speaking, wounds heal better in a slight moist environment. Emollient achieves this, and isn’t as expensive as the wound care creams that a chemist might sell you. There is also no good scientific evidence that Bio-Oil or Vitamin E or paw-paw cream or anything else is better than emollient for patients with normal wound healing.

  • What about silicon tape or silicon gel? There is some evidence that for people who are prone to creating excessively thick scars after surgery that silicon tape may be beneficial in creating better scars. Having said that though, there’s lots of studies showing that silicon tape makes no difference at all compared to non-silicon tape, so it’s another area that is a little bit unknown.

5) Are often will I see Dr Colbert after my breast reduction or breast lift?

  • I always call patients the after surgery to to check how you’re recovering after your procedure, and to let you know how things went.

  • I then see you weekly until the wounds are healed and everything is well. This usually ends up being at week one, week two, then week three or four.

  • I then see you for scar checks usually at around week six, then a further check at three months. Of course I’m more than happy to see patients whenever they are worried, or if they want to see more often.

6) How will my breasts look after breast reduction or breast lift surgery?

  • Immediately after surgery your breast skin will be tighter, your nipples will be elevated, and in the case of a reduction, your breast size will be reduced.

  • Your breasts will be a little swollen for the first several weeks. While you definitely shouldn’t expect the size to drop from one cup to another cup, most women notice a definite size change over the initial several weeks.

  • Your final breast shape will take around six months to settle. All the markings are done with the aim of creating symmetrical breasts, but one side will often heal at a different rate than the other, and the final shape takes usually takes at least six months to appear. While aiming for symmetrical breasts, it’s important to remember that breasts are like sisters, and not like twins.

7) When can I exercise after a breast reduction or breast lift surgery?

  • An important part of recovery from breast surgery is a gradual return to activity, taking it each day at a time.

  • During the first week it’s important to rest, performing your daily activities within the limits of your discomfort. It’s generally advised that you shouldn’t perform any excessive reaching or twisting or bending, avoid lifting anything heavy, but still trying to maintain active and completing light activities.

  • From week 1-4 you can usually be ok for any exercise (as soon as you feel like it) except activities that will cause excessive downward movement of the breasts, such as running. After week 4 you can start running or gym work, as long as you are wearing a good supportive sports bra. The general idea is to start with low impact activities and increase them as tolerated.

8) When can I drive after a breast reduction or breast lift surgery?

  • As everyone recovers different from breast surgery, there is no prescribed time period that when you can safely drive. I generally advise patients that they are safe to drive when they can manoeuvre the steering wheel safely, and when they can safely perform an emergency stop. Placing a pillow between your chest and seatbelt to reduce any pressure on your breasts, but don’t let the pillow stop you from seeing the road!

9) When can I return to work after a breast reduction or breast lift surgery?

  • I generally advise that people should take at least a week off from returning to full time work. Many patients return earlier though, especially if they have a less physically taxing job and can return to work for a few hours at a time.

  • Another important thing to remember during your recovery is that if something is causing you discomfort, then it’s your bodies way of telling you to slow down. Now‘s not the time to start believing in ‘no pain, no gain’!

10) Do I need to wear a special garment after breast reduction or breast lift surgery?

  • A well fitted supportive bra is one of the most common recommendations after breast reduction surgery, and I generally advise women to wear one for at least the first several weeks.

  • While I’m not aware of any scientific studies showing any significant benefit to wearing a supportive bra (it would be a difficult study to design), women generally feel more much more comfortable in a well fitted supportive bra.

  • What is a supportive bra? Generally something without an underwire (so there isn’t any pressure on the breast crease incision) and with front clasps/zips (less reaching means less tension on your freshly sutured incisions). While these can be purchased from Kmart, more high quality garments can be purchased from specialty lingerie shops such as Hidden Lace in Subiaco.

Have a question about breast reduction or breast lift surgery that I haven’t covered? Don’t hesitate to contact my rooms for an appointment.