Medically reviewed by Dr. John Rosdeutscher – Written by Sine Thieme
Every patient’s recovery experience from breast lift plastic surgery is unique. Different variables can affect the recovery period length, the level of pain, and even the results. They include the patient’s overall health, age, scope of their surgical procedure, if any additional breast augmentations took place (i.e. breast implants), and more. However, despite these inevitable differences, there are some universal guidelines to encourage healing after a breast lift, including a list of do’s and don’ts every patient should be aware of.
Knowing what to expect is essential to a quick and smooth healing process. Below we discuss what you should expect from your breast lift recovery.
The Breast Lift Procedure
During your beast lift surgery, most likely under IV sedation and local anesthesia, your surgeon will make incisions around the areola, from the base of the areola down toward the inframammary fold (the crease of the breast), and/or horizontally along the crease of the breast.
After any excess skin has been removed and the breasts have been elevated, your plastic surgeon typically places stitches and sutures deep within the breasts in order to achieve the breast shape you desire, reduce the size of your areolas if necessary, and shift the position of the nipples (if so desired or if necessary for your desired results). Once completed, your surgeon will then close the incisions with stitches and surgical tape or skin adhesives.
Breast lift surgery typically lasts about two to three hours. The patient is usually able to return home the same day as their cosmetic surgery – provided they have a friend or family member who can drive them home and observe them until the anesthetic wears off.
What Should I Expect During My Breast Lift Recovery?
During your recovery from breast lift surgery, you can expect to have dressings and bandages applied to the wounded breast tissue right after the procedure is completed. In some cases, a small tube may be temporarily placed subdermally to drain any excess blood or fluid from the surgery. For the first few hours to days post-op, you may need to wear an elastic bandage or support bra to minimize the swelling that can take place after plastic surgery as well as to provide support to your breasts as they heal.
Once you have been cleared to return home, your plastic surgeons may give specific instructions that include:
- Information on how to best care for your breasts post-surgery
- Medications to apply or take orally to aid the healing process and reduce the risk of infection
- Risks and concerns to be aware of and look for at the surgical site or your general health
- Directions on when to schedule a follow up with your plastic surgeon
After your procedure, be sure to ask your plastic surgeons very specific questions about what you should expect during your breast lift recovery process. A few questions you can ask include:
- Where will I be taken for initial post-op recovery after my breast lift?
- Will I be given or prescribed any medications after my surgery?
- How often should I change or remove my bandages after my plastic surgery?
- Will I need to schedule a return to the office to have my stitches removed? If so, when?
- When will I be able to resume daily activities and exercise?
- When should I return for a follow-up?
As you continue through your recovery period, there is a timeline of when to expect to experience a variety of symptoms, healing progress, and more. Below is a general outline of what to expect.
On the Day of Your Procedure
On the day of your procedure, you’ll likely feel groggy from the anesthesia that you received for the surgery. You may also experience some tenderness and mild pain in your breasts once you wake up.
Once you are fully awake after your surgery, you’ll notice an immediate change in your breasts – the size and shape will likely change more over the next few months once the swelling subsides, but you’ll definitely be able to see immediate results!
You can also expect to be cleared to return home on the same day as your surgery.
The First Week After Breast Lift Surgery
During the first week of your recovery, you should see your nurse for a follow up. The surgical site will be checked to ensure proper healing and to remove your bandages and stitches (if you have them).
Your nurse may also recommend scar treatment and when the best time to begin applying scar cream or ointments would be.
Typically after around 5 to 6 days, many women are able to return to work, as long as their job doesn’t require a lot of physical work or strenuous activities.
First Month to Six Weeks After Your Procedure
The first two to three weeks of your recovery will likely be some of the more uncomfortable weeks of your recovery. Some women report feeling some discomfort and tenderness in their breasts while still experiencing mild swelling and bruising. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication for the first few days, but many women discover they only need relief for the first several days.
During the first month to six weeks patients may experience unusual sensations in their breasts ranging from:
- Burning sensations
- Loss of sensation around the areolas and nipples
If you experience any of these, don’t worry! Many women experience many of these symptoms due to the nerves in the breasts recovering from the breast augmentation surgery along with the breast tissues.
It is also important that during the first 4 to 6 weeks of your recovery you limit your physical activity. Straining or overexerting yourself may affect the integrity of your sutures and affect the healing process.
However, after about 6 weeks you will begin noticing a drastic reduction in swelling and bruising and you may even notice a slight breast reduction – this is normal as your breasts are now firmer, rounder, and free of excess tissue.
Most women will be able to fully return to their normal physical and work activities by the end of the first 6 weeks. They may also return to wearing any bra of their choosing after the first 6 weeks – but always make sure you follow your surgeon’s directions on when it is safe to switch bras.
6 Months to a Year After Surgery
After 6 months to a year, you may notice a drastic change in your breast lift scars. In the beginning, they will usually be bright pink or red in color and may have a puffy or lumpy appearance. As time goes on, you can expect them to gradually fade in color – from red to pink to eventually white. The swelling of the scar tissue will also reduce over time. Eventually the scars will be like little white lines and nearly imperceptible.
However, breast lift scars will always remain slightly visible (mostly around the areola and nipple). However, this procedure has a very high satisfaction rate and many women believe it to be worth the minor scarring.
A Few Tips For Breast Lift Recovery
Breast Lift Do’s
- Wear a support/compression bra after your breast lift surgery until you’re advised to remove it. A support bra provides gentle pressure on your healing breasts to minimize swelling.
- Ensure your incisions stay clean, dry, and bandaged according to your surgeon’s advice. You may need to take sponge baths for the first few days to ensure a dry surgical site.
- Make sure you are able to take an adequate amount of time off of work to recover. Most women will need a week to recover before going back to an office job.
- Begin taking slow, short walks when you are able. Having time to move about during your recovery can decrease the risk of blood clots and reduce swelling.
- Maintain a healthy diet and minimize your salt intake. Staying hydrated is also very important as it encourages circulation, improves energy levels, and prevents constipation after surgery.
- Ask your plastic surgeon about scar management – scar massage techniques, products, etc – to help accelerate scar healing when the time is appropriate.
Breast Lift Don’ts
- Sleeping on your stomach or side is a no-go! This can apply too much pressure on your healing breasts. It may be helpful to sleep in a recliner or propped up on pillows.
- If you have children or pets, you may need help with childcare. Your surgeon will likely recommend not lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk. It is also important to not push or pull anything heavy (stroller, grocery cart, etc).
- You should consider quitting smoking or cease smoking during your recovery period as it can interfere with your body’s ability to heal.
- Refraining from alcohol consumption for the first few weeks may also be important as alcohol can lead to fluid retention and dehydration.
- You may also experience a variety of emotions during your recovery period. This shouldn’t alarm you as many women report having “ups and downs” during their initial recovery. This may be due to anesthesia, medications, lack of sleep, or general activity restrictions due to the surgery.
Are you considering a breast lift in the near future? Contact us today about our breast lift procedures here at NuBody Concepts and how we can best serve you. If you are ready to meet with a surgeon, simply self-schedule a consultation with our board-certified plastic surgeon in Nashville or Memphis.