If you are considering a breast lift then you will no doubt have questions about recovery. Will it hurt? How long is it? How can you speed it up?
As our skin becomes older and weight fluctuations, motherhood/breastfeeding takes its toll, and it becomes impossible to keep breasts perky. For this reason, breast lifting is one of the most sought-after surgical procedures.
Recovery after a breast lift is usually a smooth and well-tolerated process. You can expect to get back to your normal routines within about 2 weeks. Whilst some breast discomfort, pain, and swelling are expected and unavoidable, we have some tips for you to get better faster.
Keep reading to see the full week-by-week breast lift recovery timeline we’ve put together so that you know what you can expect!
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How is normal recovery after a Breast Lift?
Almost all women who receive a breast lift recover comfortably within 2 weeks. The duration of recovery depends on your body’s healing abilities and what was done. Did you combine your breast lift with a breast reduction, Implants or fat grafting?
In general, the pain after a breast lift is well managed with regular pain relief (which will be prescribed by your Anaesthetist) and ice packs.
Breast swelling and bruising are both normal after a breast lift. The swelling usually peaks around 4-5 days after the breast lift and then starts to subside. Your bruises will change colour before disappearing completely around 3-4 weeks after your surgery.
During recovery from breast lift surgery, you might experience any or all of these symptoms:
The exposed nerve endings, damaged tissue and surgical incisions all cause pain. Whilst a breast lift performed on its own is relatively straightforward, you can expect to feel moderate discomfort and pain for the first 1-2 weeks.
After a breast lift, you will experience some degree of swelling. It might not be limited to your breasts and can involve your armpit region and torso as well.
Bruising is destroyed red blood cells that accumulate under your skin. Your immune cells will slowly absorb them. They will change in colour each day, from a dark purple to a light yellow before they eventually disappear. This process can take up to 3 weeks.
- Loss of breast sensation
Some women report losing sensation or feeling numbness or tingling in certain parts of their breast after their lift. This is usually temporary in nature and is a result of the trauma to sensory nerve fibres supplying your skin. Most patients will regain their breast sensitivity within 12 months.
Worrying Symptoms After Breast Lift
If you develop any of the following symptoms while recovering from your breast lift you should notify your Surgeon’s office as soon as possible:
- Bulging/ Swelling in your breasts that is growing,
- Bleeding from your incisions that won’t stop,
- Pain that starts increasing after an initial improvement,
- Late redness and/or heat on or around your scars.
These symptoms may indicate a number of problems such as infection, seroma or haematoma. Your Surgeon and Nurses will guide you and provide you with the best treatment options to ensure you recover as fast as possible.
Breast Lift Recovery Timeline
Breast lift recovery can extend for up to 6 weeks if you get additional procedures (implants or reduction). However, usually, you need 3-4 weeks to fully recover from your breast lift. Here’s a week-by-week timeline of your expected recovery period:
Immediately after your Breast Lift
After your surgeon finishes, you will wake up in the recovery room where you will be closely monitored. Once you are awake, you will be taken up to your room to recover. The analgesic drugs and local anaesthetic used during your surgery will help to keep you relatively pain-free for the first few hours. After this, you will be given oral medications to help reduce the pain. You might experience some drowsiness or nausea after surgery which should resolve after a few hours.
Most patients opt to stay in the hospital for 1 night after their surgery to ensure the effects from the general anaesthetic have worn off before they head home.
The days and weeks following your Breast Lift Surgery
- You will get a prescription for a course of antibiotics to take for 5-7 days. This helps to reduce the chance of any infection at the surgical site.
- You will receive prescriptions for a range of pain killers. These will range from simple analgesia such as paracetamol through to stronger medications should you need them.
- Your surgeon will use dissolving stitches and apply bandages. The bandages will be removed at your first post-operative appointment in the clinic. This is usually 7-10 days following the surgery.
- A compression bra will be given to you, and you should continue to wear it for 8 weeks post-operatively. You can remove this when showering or if you are feeling too restricted.
- You should sleep on your back in an elevated position (using 2 pillows) for the first 1-2 weeks.
- Avoid doing any house work and lifting for the first 1-2 weeks. Then you may gently start to resume these activities when you feel comfortable.
- You will need to take approximately 1-2 weeks off work (depending on the nature of your job).
- We encourage walking from the day of your surgery. However, avoid vigorous exercise for the first 4 weeks.
These are variable and depend on the combination of procedures you receive and your own circumstances.
Pain, swelling, bruising, and fatigue are most apparent during the first week after your breast lift. This is why you shouldn’t return to work for at least a week after your breast lift (Mastopexy).
During the first few days, you might need to regularly take painkillers to stay comfortable. In our experience, breast lift pain is very manageable with mild pain medication. The swelling and bruising will peak by the middle of the first week and then start to slowly and gradually decrease as the first week comes to an end.
You might not be able to perform overhead activities (like washing your hair) during the initial few days. When you feel comfortable, you can resume these activities.
By the second week after your breast lift, the pain and discomfort will be reduced. You can drive your car without a problem. However, you might still need pain relief every now and then, but they’re generally not necessary.
You will also be able to go back to your job during the second week of recovery as long as it doesn’t involve lifting or significant physical activity.
However, you shouldn’t start doing sports or go back to the gym just yet. You can walk as much as you like. The more you walk the better it is for your health and recovery.
Remember that you will still be wearing your compression bra during this time.
Three weeks after your breast lift, you will feel like your old (or young) self again. There’s usually minimal pain or discomfort. The swelling will have reduced significantly, and the bruising has nearly all faded away.
You can get back to light exercise including lower body weights etc. Avoid direct upper body exercises for 8 weeks.
By the end of the 4th week, you should be enjoying the full benefits of your breast lift without any significant symptoms.
You can slowly start going back to the gym and performing more intense physical activities. We do recommend that you start slowly, remembering you haven’t done any physical exercise until now.
After 6 Weeks
A breast lift will leave a visible scar on your breasts. The scar will continue maturing for the rest of your life, though the largest changes will occur in the first 12 months. In most cases, the remaining scar is only mildly noticeable after a year and our dermal therapists will help to start you on a scar management regime from 12 weeks post-operatively.
Some very minimal degree of swelling might linger there for a few more months though by 8 weeks you will begin to get a great idea of what your final results will be. You will be able to enjoy your new perky and young-looking breasts after making a full recovery.
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Returning To Activities After Breast Lift
When can you shower after your breast lift?
Each Surgeon has a different preference for when patients can begin to shower. Once confirmed by your surgeon, showering is completely safe. Washing your hair might be difficult for the first few days, though by 1 week you should be able to do this with ease.
When can I lift my arms after a breast lift?
After getting a breast lift, you can lift your arms above your head immediately.
When can I drive after a breast lift?
You should wait around 7 days before you can start driving your car again after your breast lift. Remember: you cannot drive while you are taking strong painkillers, so until you have finished them you should not be driving.
When can I sleep without a bra after a breast lift?
We recommend that you sleep with a surgical (compression) bra to protect your breasts from trauma and reduce swelling for the first 8 weeks. Continuing to wear this wire-free bra after this will help to extend the longevity of your results.
When can I get back to the gym after a breast lift?
You can go back to the gym after 4-6 weeks. You need to start gradually and increase your workout intensity slowly over the first couple of weeks. By the 8th week, you can usually go back to weight lifting, squats, and high-intensity training.
Tips for Recovery After Breast Lift Recovery
With the help of our expert plastic surgeons, we’ve put together a list of valuable tips to boost your recovery after breast lift and make it smoother and easier:
- Get informed on your surgery: read up on our website and check all the details about your surgery. The timeline in this article can help you know what you should expect as you recover.
- Make arrangements: Call your boss and let them know you will be taking 10-14 days of sick leave. Make arrangements with a babysitter, friends, or family members to help you with the kids and around the house during the first week.
- Stock up on supplies: go shopping beforehand to make sure you have all you need. Make a checklist of things that you need. Include entertainment so that you don’t get bored!
- Listen to your body: If you feel like you’re tired, it’s because you are. Your body is not lying. Surgery takes a toll on us and we need to take due rest to recover. When you’re sleepy, sleep. When you’re tired, sit down and rest. Don’t overwork yourself until you feel ready to step it up.
- Put pillows on your sides: This trick can help give you support and prevent you from accidentally turning over on your stomach as you sleep.
- Cool off: Using cold towels or ice packs can make the swelling and bruising go away faster and speed up the whole recovery process. Ice packs are most effective within the first 48 hours though do have analgesic benefits beyond that.
- Follow instructions: The discharge and aftercare instructions that our surgeons give out are all science-based and will ensure that you have a fast and smooth recovery.
Dos and Don’t After Breast Lift Surgery
For those of you who don’t have the time to read the whole article, he’s a summary of all the dos and don’ts after breast lift surgery:
- Sleep on your stomach for 8 weeks
- Participate in any lifting or sports for 3-4 weeks
- Smoke during recovery (and afterwards if possible)
- Follow your surgeon’s instructions
- Wear your support bra for 8 week
- Take your painkillers when you need them
- Apply ice packs to reduce swelling
When do stitches come out after breast lift?
- In most cases, our surgeons use dissolving stitches that are broken down by your body and don’t require manual removal.
How long after a breast lift can I drink alcohol?
- We recommend that you do not drink any alcoholic beverages for the first 7 days.
Is there scarring after a breast lift?
- Yes, breast lift, like any other breast surgery, does leave a scar. The location depends on the technique used by your surgeon.
How long does it take for swelling to go down after a breast lift?
- It usually takes around 3-4 weeks for most of the swelling to go away after a breast lift. However, it can take some patients up to 12 months to fully recover from swelling.
Can I sleep on my side after breast lift surgery?
- It is recommended that you sleep on your back for 1 week after breast lift surgery. After that, you are free to sleep on your side if it feels comfortable for you.