Breast reduction in the UK is commonly requested by women looking to achieve smaller and lighter breasts by eliminating shoulder, neck and back pain. Breast reduction surgery involves the removal of excess skin and underlying fat to produce smaller breasts that are in better proportion with the body as a whole. Centre for Surgery is recognised as one of the leading cosmetic surgery clinics in London, and an in-person consultation will help you to decide on the best size for your new breasts. Here we discuss advice and top tips for exercising after breast reduction.
There are several breast reduction techniques commonly used to achieve lighter and smaller breasts. Breast reduction is a surgically invasive procedure and involves a period of recovery. Women can achieve not only smaller breasts but can expect a significant improvement in their quality of life. Many women may have previously been unable to carry out certain forms of exercise. After breast reduction surgery, women often find they feel more mobile and energetic with the ability to carry out more vigorous forms of exercise without pain and discomfort.
How to have a fast recovery after breast reduction
Bruising and swelling are common side effects of breast reduction surgery. We would advise you to wear your compression bra continuously for at least four weeks after surgery. You should also sleep on your back with your upper body in an elevated position to minimise swelling. We would advise against carrying out any form of strenuous exercise immediately after a breast reduction as this may increase the risk of complications occurring. Initially, you should focus on gentle movement around the home during the first two weeks after surgery to promote healthy blood circulation to the legs. This helps to speed up healing and prevent deep vein thrombosis from occurring.
Exercise can be gradually intensified over the first six weeks after surgery. You should avoid any high-impact exercise during the first six weeks after surgery. Stationary bikes are particularly useful as they do not involve significant upper body involvement. Always listen to your body and try not to do too much too soon. You should avoid any upper body workout involving your chest muscles until your incisions have fully healed by four weeks. Running, rowing or swimming should be avoided during the first six weeks after surgery. Lifting heavy weights, including bench presses or shoulder presses, should be avoided until at least six weeks after surgery.
Breast reduction surgery – how to get the best recovery
Make sure to follow all of the preoperative and post-operative instructions given to you by your surgeon. Wearing your compression bra continuously for six weeks will help to minimise bruising and swelling and support the breasts in the new position. You may change to a well-fitting sports bra after six weeks, although you should avoid any form of underwire bra for a minimum of three months.
Avoid high-intensity sports for at least six weeks after breast reduction to avoid wound-related complications. It is normal to feel tired during the first few weeks after surgery, and if you experience chest pains or shortness of breath during any form of exercise, you should immediately stop what you are doing and drink plenty of water. Consult your surgeon immediately for a clinical assessment.
There are several recognised features of wound infection, including pain, warmth, redness and swelling. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should get in touch with us to arrange an urgent face-to-face appointment.
Exercise guidelines after breast reduction surgery
Recovery after breast reduction varies depending on certain factors, including the overall state of health and the size of breast reduction. Achieving a smooth recovery depends on following your surgeon’s care instructions, including when to safely start exercising after breast reduction.
Week 1 and 2 after breast reduction
You should try to keep mobile in the first few days after surgery to promote healthy blood circulation to the legs and prevent stiffness. This will help to boost your overall sense of well-being. Walks of no more than 10 to 15 minutes in duration are sufficient. Try to get plenty of sleep and take time out during the day for relaxation. Light exercise will help to minimise the risk of deep vein thrombosis as well as help to release endorphins to boost your energy levels.
Week 3 and 4 after breast reduction
Most day-to-day household tasks can be resumed after week two. Most people can return to most types of work, although a longer period off may be required if you have a physically demanding occupation. If your surgeon allows it, you may be able to carry out certain forms of exercise that focus on your abdomen or legs. Lower body workouts help to keep you energised without placing undue stress on the surgical area. Light walks can be gradually increased in length, although always make sure to wear your compression bra continuously. If you feel tired after exercise, make sure to get plenty of rest to promote healing.
Week 5 and 6 after breast reduction
Most people will begin to feel their normal selves, and most types of exercise can be carried out, although lifting heavy weights and intense cardiovascular workouts should be avoided. If you are unsure, reach out to us to get personalised recommendations on which types of exercise can be safely carried out after breast reduction.
Week 7 and 8 after breast reduction
You can generally return to all forms of exercise two months after surgery. Lifting weights and high-intensity workouts can be carried out. It is best to start slowly and build up gradually to avoid injury.
Exercising after breast reduction – recommended advice
Keep in mind the do’s and don’ts of exercise after breast reduction below to get a quick recovery:
Light walking every day is beneficial
We would recommend white walks every day after surgery to promote blood circulation. This helps the healing tissues to recover more quicker. You should try to avoid doing too much too soon and build up gradually over time.
Remember to warm up before exercise with stretching
Once your incisions have fully healed by four weeks, carrying out pre-workout stretches helps to avoid muscle injury or stiffness. By week six, you can carry out virtually all forms of stretching exercises without affecting your incisions.
Speak to your surgeon if you are unsure about exercising safely after surgery
If you are unsure about certain types of exercise and whether they can be safely carried out after breast reduction, consult your surgeon for advice. If you experience symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath or dizziness, you should immediately stop what you are doing and drink water, followed by contacting our clinical team.
What types of exercise should be avoided?
Avoid starting jogging too early in the recovery period
Jogging should be avoided until six weeks after surgery. Carrying out jogging or running too soon after surgery can affect the healing of your incisions and may lead to early wound breakdown. Light walking will help to keep you healthy during the first six weeks after surgery.
Avoid lifting heavy weights too early
Although weightlifting is an excellent method of achieving a toned look, you should avoid lifting heavy weights until at least six weeks after surgery. After six weeks, you should start lifting lighter weights and build up gradually to avoid excessive stress being placed on your upper body.
Top tops for a smooth recovery after breast reduction
- You should sleep on your back for the first four weeks after surgery with your upper body in an elevated position.
- Take plenty of time out for rest and relaxation.
- Try to get a minimum of eight hours of sleep each night.
- Keep well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, with at least eight glasses being recommended.
- Eat a nutritious and healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds and avocados.
- Avoid excessive salt consumption, as this can increase fluid retention.
- Use cold packs during the first 72 hours after surgery to minimise bruising and swelling.
- Always wear your compression bra continuously for the first four weeks after surgery.
- Attend all of your postoperative follow-up appointments to allow our clinical team to monitor your healing and recovery.
- Avoid smoking for at least six weeks after surgery.
- Alcohol should be avoided for at least four weeks after surgery as it is associated with delayed wound healing.
- Take at least one week off work and preferably to particularly if you have a physically demanding occupation.
- Avoid having a bath or using the sauna or steam room for two weeks after surgery.
- Swimming should be avoided until six weeks after surgery.
- Arrange for a responsible adult carer to look after you during the first few days after surgery.
- Take all of your postoperative medications as directed by your surgeon, including antibiotics and painkillers.
- Avoid getting your incision wet.
Exercise after breast reduction surgery FAQs
How long does it take to recover after breast reduction?
Recovery after breast reduction takes between six and eight weeks, although every patient is different depending on their overall state of general health.
What types of exercise can I carry out immediately after breast reduction?
Only light walking around the home is recommended immediately after surgery and should be for no longer than 10 minutes at a time. Other more vigorous exercises should be avoided until six weeks after surgery.
When can I start working out after breast reduction surgery?
You should wait at least six weeks after Surgery before returning to your normal exercise routine. Check with your surgeon first before lifting heavy weights or carrying out intensive cardiovascular workouts.
How long will it take me to return to normal activities?
Most patients can carry out light household tasks two weeks after surgery and can also return to work after this time. Walking is actively encouraged after surgery, and by six weeks, patients should be able to feel back to normal.
Why should I avoid heavy exercise too soon after a breast reduction?
Carrying out intensive exercise too early after breast reduction may lead to wound breakdown, we’d infection, excessive bruising and swelling and seroma formation. Try not to overdo it, and you should certainly avoid heroic workouts three days after surgery.
How long does swelling last after breast reduction surgery?
Swelling begins to improve by three weeks after surgery, with most swelling disappearing by six weeks. It can take up to 3 months for all swelling to fully resolve.
Will I need to wear the compression bra after breast reduction?
You must wear your compression bra continuously for a minimum of four weeks after surgery to minimise bruising and swelling and support the breasts in the optimum position to get the best results.
What is the best type of bra to wear after breast reduction surgery?
A surgical compression bra should be worn for the first six weeks after surgery. You may then wear a well-fitting sports bra for three months. Underwire bras should be avoided for at least three months after surgery.
How long does it take for breast reduction incisions to heal fully?
Breast reduction incisions are usually fully healed by three weeks after surgery, although healing will differ based on the overall state of general health and whether you smoke.
What is the best sleeping position after breast reduction?
You should sleep on your back for the first four weeks after breast reduction. Sleeping on your side or stomach should be avoided during this time to minimise excessive stress on the incisions.
When will I be able to see the final results after breast reduction surgery?
Although you will be able to see impressive results immediately after surgery, you will need to wait at least eight weeks after surgery once bruising and swelling have disappeared to enjoy the final results of your procedure.
Breast reduction surgery at Centre for Surgery in London
Centre for Surgery is the leading plastic surgery clinic in the UK and is home to some of the best breast reduction surgeons in London. We carry out hundreds of breast procedures each year at our state-of-the-art Baker Street clinic in Marylebone. If you would learn more about the benefits of breast reduction surgery, get in touch with us today at 020 7993 4849 or complete the contact form below to start your patient journey with us.