How do I prepare for my breast reduction?

You are an important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before surgery can improve your comfort and outcome.

You can prepare for breast reduction surgery by:

  • Answering all questions about your medical history and medications. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
  • Getting preoperative testing as directed. Testing varies depending on your age, health, and specific procedure. Preoperative testing may include a breast exam, mammograms, chest X-rays, blood tests, and other tests as needed.
  • Losing excess weight before the surgery through a healthy diet and exercise plan
  • Not eating or drinking before surgery as directed. Your surgery may be cancelled if you eat or drink too close to the start of surgery because you can choke on stomach contents during anesthesia.
  • Stopping smoking as soon as possible. Even quitting for just a few days can be beneficial and help the healing process.
  • Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed. This may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and blood thinners.

Questions to ask your doctor

Facing surgery can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during a doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment.  Contact your doctor with concerns and questions before surgery and between appointments.

It is also a good idea to bring a list of questions your appointments. Questions can include:

  • Am I a good candidate for breast reduction surgery? Are there any other options for me?
  • Which type of breast reduction surgery procedure will I need?
  • What results can I expect?
  • What options do I have if I am not satisfied with the results?
  • What other breast-related or revision surgery should I expect to have over my lifetime?
  • How long will the surgery take? When can I go home?
  • What restrictions will I have after the surgery? When can I return to work and other activities?
  • What kind of assistance will I need at home?
  • How do I take my medications? 
  • How will you treat my pain?
  • When should I follow up with you?
  • How should I contact you? Ask for numbers to call during and after regular hours.

What can I expect after my breast reduction?

Knowing what to expect can help make your road to recovery after breast reduction surgery as smooth as possible.

How long will it take to recover?

 You will stay in the recovery room after surgery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable. You may have tubes attached to your breasts to drain fluids. Your surgeon will usually remove them within three days. You may have a sore throat if a tube was placed in your windpipe during surgery. This is usually temporary, but tell your care team if you are uncomfortable.

You may go home on the same day if you are recovering well. In other cases, a hospital stay of one day is required. 

Recovery after surgery is a gradual process. Recovery time varies depending on the procedure, type of anesthesia, your general health, age, and other factors. You may need to wear a surgical support bra for several weeks after your surgery. Full recovery takes a couple of weeks to a month.

Will I feel pain?

Pain control is important for healing and a smooth recovery. There will be discomfort after your surgery. Your doctor will treat your pain so you are comfortable and can get the rest you need. Call your doctor if your pain gets worse or changes in any way because it may be a sign of a complication.

When should I call my doctor?

It is important to keep your follow-up appointments after breast reduction surgery. Contact your doctor for questions and concerns between appointments. Call your doctor right away or seek immediate medical care if you have:

  • Bleeding
  • Breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, labored breathing, or wheezing
  • Change in alertness, such as passing out, dizziness, unresponsiveness, or confusion
  • Chest pain, palpitations, or uneven heart beats
  • Fever. A low-grade fever (lower than 101 degrees Fahrenheit) is common for a couple of days after surgery and not necessarily a sign of a surgical infection. You should follow your doctor's specific instructions about when to call for a fever.
  • Inability to urinate or have a bowel movement
  • Pain that is not controlled by your pain medication
  • Sudden change in shape or firmness of your breast or breasts
  • Unexpected drainage, pus, redness or swelling of your incision