Breast reduction surgery is a major reconstructive surgery. I’m currently one month post op and I have a lot of thoughts. If you’re considering the surgery or are just curious what the recovery process is like, I wanted to share a bit of my experience. Already, the surgery has been monumentally life changing. But it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows.
Week 1: Coming Home
This week is definitely the worst. It’s uncomfortable and doing basic survival tasks like getting dressed, going to the bathroom, and falling asleep are difficult. If you have surgical drains, it’s even harder. I spent one night in the hospital, but not all surgeries require an overnight stay.
You’ll need a caretaker, either a spouse, friend, or family member, to help you with basic tasks, logging your meds, and stripping your drains if applicable. My boyfriend and mom tag-teamed this effort since they both obviously have jobs to get back to. They helped with preparing meals, sponge bathing, loading/unloading the dishwasher, doing laundry, cleaning surfaces, dusting, and checking the mail.
Absolute essentials included snuggly blankets, zip up clothing, sweatpants, robes, baby wipes, face wipes, sheet masks, facial mist, lip balm, hand sanitizer, and hand cream. I also slept with a travel neck pillow and bed rest pillow to keep me elevated and on my back.
To get an idea of what the first week was really like, plus some general background on why and how I got the surgery, watch the video below.
Week 2: Bandages Off
Well this week was self explanatory. My first post-op visit was at the plastic surgery office, and not the hospital. Once I had the bandages off and drains out, I felt so much more free! My surgeon had me bring in my old 32H bras which I wear during healing with surgical padding to absorb any excess fluid and blood. Bra is to be worn 24/7!
The beginning of week 2 was off to a great start. I still was cranky from not being as independent as I wanted to be at this time, so I would highly recommend taking two weeks full off of work. You might feel better after one week, but healing has not been linear so there are up days and down days. Be prepared for that.
Week 3: Stitches Off
This week I felt amazing, but a little nervous now that the stitches were removed going into week 3. Bra routine was the same, but I felt a little delicate and still wanted to stay home to avoid bumping into people or things. Rides in the car were still really painful. I was exhausted after brief outings to grocery stores or restaurants. But staying home was an interesting idea, as the world was slowly slipping into social distancing with the global health situation. I was ready to start going places, but a shelter in place order was set in my county.
Sleeping on my back was tough every night. I’m a mouth-breather and tend to snore, so my throat is constantly sore every morning. I’d also unintentionally try rolling to my side while sleeping which was incredibly painful.
If you have a physically demanding job, maybe consider taking a full 3 weeks off work.
Week 4: Itchy & Infected
I became fussier than ever at the 1 month mark. Still swollen and not ready to take an after photo. Still correcting my posture daily. I still haven’t been able to drive because the discomfort of a seatbelt and Bay Area potholes is not fun. I also drive a manual transmission vehicle, so constantly using my right arm to shift with sounds exhausting and uncomfortable. The constant itchy sensation was uncomfortable and exhausting.
Unfortunately upon closer inspection, I have a mild skin infection. I’ve started antibiotics this week and am closely monitoring the situation. I’m disappointed this has happened because I was extra careful with post op care, but sometimes these things are inevitable. My skin is extremely sensitive so I’m not entirely surprised. The puffiness, irritated scars, and red rash are hard to look at.
Antibiotics! After that, six weeks is really the next big recovery milestone after breast reduction surgery. I’m looking forward to being able to work out again and take baths. Every day my mobility and strength improves a bit more.
Obviously shopping for bras and swimwear is top of mind, but with the public health situation, I’m not sure what non-essential shopping in-store or even summer travels look like at this point.
I’m also continuing my low carb diet, to ensure I don’t gain weight that would cause my new breasts to grow and drop. I lost 12 pounds before surgery and 3 pounds of breast tissue was removed, so right now I’m down more than 15 pounds!
Another thing I’m looking forward to is more aggressive scar treatment. Once my surgeon gives me the OK, I’m going to be trying a few different treatments out to see what can start to help fade the scars.
Stay tuned for another recovery update in a few weeks. If you’re considering this procedure I wish you a speedy recovery!
Would you mind sharing who your surgeon was? I’m researching surgeons in the Bay Area.
I live in Sacramento and I went to Dr Daniel Thomas in Chico of all places. I had two coworkers that had implants removed with reductions/lifts. I just had a reduction and its been a cake walk. 32Ddd to a 32b/c? No swelling, more bruising from the IV than the surgery and shower in 72 hours. Pain meds for two days mostly as a precaution. Letting everyone do stuff for you is not my style but I want to heal well. I’ve read every blog and with the exception of one that may be a advertisement for a doctor cause everything she said goes against everything else I’ve read, I’ve had a great experience. I think a big part is my doctor and the other half is being in good health prior. I’m 49 and I eat well and get a lot of activity. This is a huge trauma to your body so get as healthy as you can prior through quality food and a variety of movement and find a good surgeon!
Mary Young says
How are you feeling now? I loved your insight videos and writing about this. I feel like there is not enough recent real time info about doing this surgery. I’m a 44 year old, now have 34G post baby (almost two years ago) and seriously considering doing the surgery within the next six months, but concerns about not being able to lift anything have delayed me a bit. I so appreciate you sharing your real time experience!
Kolohe yogini says
Hi Chelsea, just wanted to thank you for sharing your journey. My breast reduction surgery is scheduled for Sept 28. I just turned 42 and a week before my birthday I flipped my truck in a horrible crash that I miraculously walked away from with only injuries from the airbag deploying. This gave me a new outlook on life and encouraged me to take the leap to live my best life. I am 32DDD, 5’10”, and I live on Maui, which means I spend equal amounts of time wearing bikinis as I do bras. As a result my c7 vertebrae is permanently popped out, my lomi massage therapist keeps telling me to not do shoulder stands in yoga, and what I thought was pins-and-needles sensation in my hands from carpal tunnel is exacerbated by my bra straps. I remember sobbing in the fitting room when I was 13 years old, trying on swimsuits and nothing would fit me. I was 34dd in ninth grade and the unwanted attention was horrible. I love vintage clothes and trying to find something that would fit my boobs is extremely hard. So while I’m on break from my job as a bartender, I thought I’d go ahead with my dream of getting a breast reduction, because why suffer any longer? I am currently prepping a recovery area in my living room and your advise is helpful. I can’t wait to have this nightmare and struggle be over. I’m gonna be 34c, which I’ve always thought would be the perfect proportionate size for me. Best wishes on your journey!
Hi I love watching your story I’m only 1 week and a half post breast reduction and I’m so depressed my breast are extremely flat… I asked to go from 38DDD to a C cup and I look like a flat chested woman no bigger than a B.
Loved your videos-thanks for sharing your journey! I’m 34 and I am 2 weeks post surgery and I know it was the right decision. I should have done this years ago! I cannot wait to get these itchy stitches out. Everything you said was pretty spot on, the only difference for me was I did not have any drains and so far I’ve been very lucky to be healing quickly. Still going to take it easy and let my body heal before I get back into things. Wishing you well and very happy for you!
Just wanted to share my experience for those coming across your page. I’m 31 and currently 2 weeks post op going from a 36HH to who knows what they’ll be. I’m guessing in the DD or DDD range which with my frame would be more proportional and still a million times better than how they were. Thank you so much for sharing. Week 1 was as expected and week 2 is definitely the grumpy and having a hard time telling what’s normal healing and what should be concerning. Fluid on my gauze makes me worry about infection constantly but I also know it’s part of the healing process. I go on Thursday to get my stitches out so I’ll get confirmation that everything is going well then! Thank you so much for sharing and your insight on infection. That is what I am watching so closely for but as you said, sometimes it just happens out of our control. Best of luck on your journey and with your newfound freedom! And to those who are hesitant, the struggle post op is 100% worth it and I’m only 2 weeks out.
Leslie Cisler says
Loved hearing your journey, I just hot approval from plastic surgeon now awaiting insurance response, I’ve had 5 shoulder repairs including a replacement, also a neck fusion and multiple injections in back to help with pain this is definitely medically necessary, dr told insurance he wants to remove 450 grams each on me and I will happily donate that to someone wanting enhancement
I just had my surgery last week, July 22, 2022. I’m very uncomfortable and have so many bruises. I was a 40DDD or G. I have had some good afternoons, and some terrible mornings. I’m trying to use advil and Tylenol. Sleeping on my back a wearing the bra is so stressful. I know things will get better. I look so much smaller, I’m hoping things progress.
Hi Chelsea thanks for sharing. I’m day 5 post op and I have to say nobody prepares you for the pain and discomfort after a reduction. I’m in England and paid privately for my op. I was a 34G, Probably down to a D, I won’t know for a few months. There is no way I’ll be ready to return to work after 2 weeks, never felt so debilitated and exhausted so much in my life, even trying to flush the toilet or push yourself around the bed is so difficult. All I can say regarding recovery is take your pain meds regularly and set an alarm in the night if the time to take them falls then. I tried to sleep through it and ended up causing myself to feel worse. On a positive note, no regrets as I can already see that it will all be worth it