Breast Reduction Side Effects: Surgical Recovery

Breast Reduction Side Effects: Surgical Recovery

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The team here at Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, LTD. has achieved excellent results through the latest body contouring and sculpting techniques. This includes breast reduction (reduction mammaplasty), which helps address issues with large, heavy, pendulous breasts, reducing pain and other symptoms associated with the breasts and improving overall breast appearance and body contour in the process.

We’d like to look at some of the things that patients experience following breast reduction surgery so you have a good understanding of the surgical process.

Discomfort and Soreness

Varying degrees of soreness and discomfort are common issues after surgery of any kind. Many breast reduction patients remark that (although they had some discomfort after surgery) it was “less than I expected!” That being said, discomfort / pain is a highly subjective and individual response, but after this operation it is usually quite tolerable, especially after the first several days. Some soreness is normal, and you will notice that discomfort abates as healing progresses. Pain medication and anti-inflammatory prescriptions (do not use Advil–ibuprofen–or other NSAIDS; can increase risk of bleeding) can be taken to address this soreness. Most women are up and doing everyday activities within a day or two after surgery–nothing strenuous, mind you, but going about the house and taking care of one’s self.

Bruising Around the Breasts

Bruising is another common side effect of many surgeries, and patients should not be surprised if they experience bruising to a certain degree after a procedure. Resting well and refraining from strenuous activities are good ways to reduce the duration and severity of bruising.

Swelling of the Bustline

Swelling is most often experienced in the early part of the healing process and is a result of your body’s normal response to surgery or injury. Resting well and wearing your surgical dressings and/or a surgical bra as instructed help keep swelling manageable. The most prominent amounts of swelling will fade within two weeks, though mild swelling may persists for several weeks afterward. Swelling reaches its peak at about day 3-5 after surgery; after that it diminishes over time. You will also note that swelling will “move” to the ribcage, abdomen, hips, and even legs–this is normal (gravity). “Final” healing and lymphatic swelling resolution takes 6-12 months. Sudden or asymmetric enlargement can be a sign of bleeding; if you have markedly increasing swelling and increase of breast size (1 1/2 to 2X larger), contact your surgeon.

Redness Around Incision Sites

As with the other side effects noted, patients can expect some redness or discoloration around the incisions sites. This is the body’s response to healing–vascular dilation causing redness where active healing is going on. Unfortunately, infection (very rare, but possible with any surgery) can also cause an increase in redness around an incision. Localized progressive increase in redness, discomfort, and swelling outside what is seen (normally) in other areas should be brought to the attention of your surgeon. Bright pink incision discoloration tends to only last for a few weeks, but final scar fading takes 6-12 months. Use of Scar Recovery Gel (after 1 week) and Vitamin E massage (after 3 weeks) will help scars soften and fade. Ultraviolet avoidance (sun AND tanning beds) is critical as long as scars are pink; otherwise, dark (permanent) pigmentation results. Rest, hydration, and refraining from strenuous activities help improve the healing process. Silicone scar sheets can be used to help flatten and fade scars that are red, thick, or raised (hypertrophic).

Changes In Breast and Nipple Sensitivity

As patients heal from surgery, they may notice numbness or sensitivity of their breasts, particularly their nipples. This is common in the early weeks after surgery and tends to be less of an issue as healing continues and sensory nerves regrow and repair. That said, numbness and tingling may diminish over the course of a few months before reaching their “new normal.” About 15% of breast lift or reduction patients will experience permanent nipple numbness depending on their specific anatomy and the course of their sensory nerves.

Post-Surgical Scarring

Scarring is a reality with any surgery. With breast reduction surgery, there will be scars, though they will fade with time so long as patients are fully committed to the healing and recovery process. The extent of the breast reduction/breast lift scars depend on the exact amount of tissue removed, as well as the design chosen for each woman’s optimal result. This depends, in turn, on pre-operative breast anatomy and post-op goals. Rest assured that most bathing suits and undergarments will conceal the scars from view. In addition to careful and precise surgical technique, dissolving sutures under the skin (no “railroad tracks” or crosshatch marks), and meticulous hemostasis (control of bleeding vessels at the time of surgery) we will instruct you in the use scar reduction techniques and products, such as Scar Recovery Gel, Vitamin E massage, and silicone scar sheeting. Over-the-counter products such as Mederma may also be helpful.

Remember: Follow Post-Operative Instructions Carefully

Post-operative instructions are in place in order to ensure that you heal fully and most efficiently, avoiding major complications and reducing the duration and severity of side effects. Make sure to follow these instructions to the letter and to contact your surgeon if you have any questions or concerns as you are recovering.

Schedule a Consultation at Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, LTD.

For more information about breast reduction surgery and how it can help you have a more youthful and rejuvenated figure, it’s important that you contact our cosmetic skin care and plastic surgery center today.  The American Board of Plastic Surgery-certified plastic surgeons at Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, LTD. will be more than happy to answer questions and address any concerns that you may have about the surgical process. In a no-charge, no-obligation consultation, we can also determine whether you may qualify for insurance coverage, and if not, can offer a nationally accredited (AAAASF) on-site surgical facility dedicated to aesthetic plastic surgery with lower costs and more specialized care than a hospital or hospital-run surgicenter (and no sick patients or nasty bacteria).

© Dr. Richard H. Tholen, MD

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