Breast reduction surgery can help women to get smaller and lighter breasts with permanent relief from back, shoulder and neck pain. Smaller breasts help to restore a more balanced body silhouette, and this procedure is one of the most effective ways to boost self-confidence. Breast reduction is an invasive surgical procedure and involves a period of recovery. Bruising and swelling after breast reduction of some of the most common side effects experienced by most patients. This is a normal response to surgical intervention, although there are several measures which patients can follow to minimise bruising and swelling to ensure a quicker and smoother recovery.
Centre for Surgery is one of the leading plastic surgery clinics in the UK and is home to specialist breast reduction surgeons with years of experience in this procedure. Our results-driven approach to all our treatments helps patients to achieve aesthetically pleasing and natural-looking breasts. Our expert nursing team are always available to answer any questions or concerns you may have about breast reduction recovery. We are committed to providing the highest standards of medical care before, during and after your procedure.
Top tips to minimise swelling and bruising after breast reduction
Breast reduction is designed to address pain and discomfort from having heavy breasts, and this can help to boost psychological well-being. The final results of breast reduction surgery take time to appear due to the development of bruising and swelling in the early postoperative period. Swelling and bruising after breast reduction can be minimised by following your surgeon’s care instructions before and after surgery.
Here are the most important steps that patients can follow to get a fast recovery after breast reduction surgery:
Wear your postoperative bra
Choosing an appropriate post-operative compression bra is vital to the healing process. We would recommend wearing a compression bra for a minimum of four weeks after surgery. You should wear a bra continuously both day and night. The compression bra functions to support the new breasts and minimise swelling. The compression from the bra helps to minimise bruising by applying pressure to small blood vessels beneath the skin.
Avoid strenuous activity in the early recovery period
Taking plenty of time out for rest is important after surgery; however, keeping mobile around the home during the first few days after surgery will help to promote healthy blood circulation to the legs. This helps to minimise the risk of blood clots. You should refrain from strenuous exercises such as jogging or running, or lifting heavy weights as these activities could prolong bruising and swelling after surgery. Our clinical team will guide you on which exercises can be safely carried out after surgery.
Apply cold packs during the first 72 hours after surgery
Application of cold packs to the surgical area will help to reduce blood flow by constricting blood vessels. This helps to minimise both bruising and swelling after breast reduction. Best results are obtained when cold packs are applied regularly during the first three days after surgery. You should avoid cold pack application for more than 15 minutes at a time with at least a 15-minute break in between. Avoid excessive skin contact, as this could increase the risk of developing a cold burn.
Sleep on your back
Sleeping in the correct position after breast reduction will help to promote good healing. We would recommend sleeping on your back with your breasts in an elevated position. A dedicated recliner chair may help with this. Alternatively, you may use a couple of pillows beneath your head to keep your upper body propped up. You should avoid sleeping on your sides or tummy as this will involve excessive pressure being applied to the incisions, which could increase the risk of wound breakdown.
Eat the right foods
Eating healthy foods after breast reduction is crucial to the breast reduction recovery process. A healthy and nutritious diet will help to minimise bruising and swelling with a quicker recovery. Focus on eating foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, avocados and lean protein sources. Avoid eating highly processed foods or junk foods, and reduce your salt intake. Excessive consumption of salt may lead to fluid retention and prolongation of postoperative swelling.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking water regularly throughout the day will help to eliminate excessive swelling and promote healthy blood circulation. This will lead to a quicker recovery and faster healing of your breast reduction incisions. Certain beverages should be minimised, including caffeinated drinks and fizzy drinks. Excessive consumption of tea or coffee may increase the risk of dehydration which can delay wound healing.
Take your postoperative medications as directed by your surgeon
You will be prescribed post-operative medications to help minimise pain and discomfort after surgery. Take these regularly as directed during the early postoperative period. Failing to take your medication as prescribed may increase post-operative swelling and bruising. Getting the best results after surgery means taking painkillers and antibiotics regularly as per your surgeon’s instructions.
How to avoid bruising and swelling after breast reduction
- Do not take medicines containing aspirin, as these can increase the risk of bleeding after surgery and exacerbate bruising.
- Avoid vigorous physical activity for a minimum of six weeks after surgery.
- Attend all of your post-operative appointments as scheduled.
- Avoid taking any herbal supplements or other over-the-counter medications until you have consulted with your surgeon first.
- Avoid excessive salt intake and coffee as the skin leads to excessive fluid retention, and swelling may take longer to resolve.
- Avoid sleeping on your side or stomach for at least four weeks after surgery to minimise any compression to the incision sites.
- Make sure to wear your compression bra continuously for a minimum of four weeks.
Breast reduction surgery recovery FAQs
Here we answer your most commonly asked questions about breast reduction recovery.
How long does swelling last after breast reduction?
Postoperative swelling after breast reduction takes approximately three weeks to improve, with all swelling virtually disappearing by three months after surgery.
What is the best way to reduce swelling after breast reduction surgery?
Make sure to follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions to help minimise swelling after breast reduction. You should wear your compression bra continuously for four weeks, apply cold packs for the first 72 hours after surgery and eat a healthy diet. You should keep well hydrated and avoid eating salty foods. Coffee should be avoided, and strenuous exercises such as going to the gym should be avoided until six weeks after surgery.
How can I stop bruising on the breasts after breast reduction surgery?
Bruising after breast reduction cannot be eliminated completely. Both bruising and swelling or normal side-effects of any surgical procedure. By following the after-care instructions in full, you can help to minimise bruising, and it should disappear much quicker.
How long should I apply ice packs after breast reduction?
Cold packs or ice packs should be applied for no more than 15 minutes at a time. You should have a minimum of a 30-minute break in between applications. Applying cold packs for too long may increase the risk of a cold burn.
What is the best scar cream to use after breast reduction surgery?
Once your breast reduction incisions have fully healed, you may apply a specialist scar removal cream, and we will be able to recommend the most appropriate product at your follow-up appointment.
How can I minimise bruising after a breast reduction?
Bruising after breast reduction surgery can be minimised by the regular application of ice packs for the first 72 hours after surgery. You should wear your compression bra continuously for at least four weeks and avoid any medicines known to thin the blood, such as aspirin.
Is swelling and bruising normal after breast reduction?
Bruising and swelling are completely normal after breast reduction and is the body’s normal response to a physical injury, including invasive surgery.
When can I sleep on my side after breast reduction surgery?
You will be able to sleep on your side after a breast reduction after approximately four weeks. Before this time, you should avoid sleeping on your side or stomach to avoid excessive pressure on the incisions.
Can I prevent scarring after breast reduction surgery?
Scars after breast reduction cannot be eliminated completely, although there are several measures which can be taken to minimise their appearance. You should avoid direct sunlight exposure to your incisions and we would recommend the application of silicone gel or silicone sheets to flatten scars once they have fully healed after approximately four weeks.
What happens if I don’t wear my compression bra after breast reduction surgery?
Failing to wear the compression bra after breast reduction surgery will significantly increase bruising and swelling and may affect the final results of your surgery, as the compression bra functions to support the breasts in a proper position for optimal healing.
When can I drink coffee after breast reduction?
Although it is fine to drink coffee after a breast reduction, we would recommend limiting your intake to know more than one or 2 cups a day and instead focus on drinking at least eight glasses of water each day to maintain adequate hydration and promote healing.