The breast lift recovery process is different for each patient. However, there are some expected side effects of surgery and healing that are fairly common and tend to resolve along a certain timeline. Here’s a look at what you can expect during the first days and weeks after surgery.
Immediately After Surgery
All but the least-invasive mastopexy surgeries are typically done using general anesthesia. This means your first breast lift recovery experience will be waking up from anesthesia with bandages on your chest. Many patients feel disoriented at this time. Nausea is another common reaction. These symptoms will pass. You should have someone drive you home after you are released, even if you think you feel okay. Some people experience fatigue and grogginess for a couple of days after their surgery as a result of anesthesia.
Additional Visits to Your Surgeon
You can expect to have a few follow-up visits with your surgeon as you heal. If you had drainage tubes installed during your procedure, these will be taken out after a couple of days and your dressing/bandages will be changed. You will likely see your surgeon again at around the one-week mark to have exterior stitches removed. However, stitches might be removed sooner and some surgeons use Steri-Strips (an alternative to sutures for closing small incisions) that peel off on their own after about three weeks. If you have any questions or concerns during your recovery period, you can talk to your surgeon on the phone and see if an additional follow-up visit is needed. Your post-operative instructions will include a list of signs to watch for that indicate the incision sites are not healing or that they may be infected.
First Days Home during Breast Lift Recovery
You will probably experience the most discomfort in the first few days following your surgery. You will be prescribed medication to manage your symptoms. Every patient’s pain tolerance is different. However, there is no benefit to waiting until pain becomes very intense before you take your pain relief medication. These drugs are designed to work best when taken as directed before discomfort reaches unmanageable levels. You will also be given antibiotics to reduce the risk of post-operative infection. Take the full course prescribed by your surgeon.
Note: Many over-the-counter painkillers are not safe to take after this kind of surgery because they increase your risk of bleeding. Discuss the use of any over the counter or prescription medications with your surgeon.
First Weeks After Breast Lift Recovery
Your breasts will bruised, tender and swollen after surgery. The bruises and tenderness should fade over the next couple of weeks. However, swelling may linger for much longer. You can help reduce this symptom by:
- Wearing your post-operative compression garment
- Sleeping in a semi-reclined position
- Drinking plenty of water
- Limiting salt intake
- Doing gentle physical exercise, such as walking, as directed during your recovery
You may also notice many symptoms such as itching, numbness, tingling and other unusual sensations in your breasts and nipples. These side effects are usually not dangerous. They may persist for several weeks or for several months, gradually fading away.
Daily Routine and Physical Activity During Breast Lift Recovery
Until your bandages come off, you will not be able to shower or bathe in a way that allows your surgical dressings to be soaked. So, you will likely be taking some sponge baths during the first week. Your surgeon will let you know when it is safe for the incision sites to get wet.
After your bandages are removed, you will wear a compression garment or surgical bra for the next two or three months. Next, you can wear a soft, supportive bra (without underwire). Once your breasts are fully healed, you can return to wearing whatever style of bra you prefer.
Your ability to lift your arms is likely to be very limited for a while after surgery. Plan for this when you prepare your home for your post-operative period. You will need water, food, medications and other necessities within easy reach. It’s very important for you to have a trusted caregiver with you at all times for at least the first 48 hours after your surgery. They are there to not only assist with tasks like washing your hair (since you can’t lift your arms), but also to watch for signs of potential complications.
Safe resumption of normal activities happens gradually and varies with each patient. Most women can return to sedentary work within about a week after their procedure. You will need to limit pushing, pulling and lifting motions until your incisions have time to heal. Check with your surgeon about which aspects of your exercise routine you can start with first, and which exercises need to wait. Return to moderate exercise is usually possible after four to six weeks.
Appearance During Breast Lift Recovery
You may feel disturbed by the initial appearance of your breasts after surgery due to the swelling and bruising (not to mention the tubes and sutures). You will probably be able to see a difference from what they looked like before the surgery within the first few weeks. However, it may be a full six months or longer before your breasts start taking on their final shape and appearance. The scars may take a year or more to fade to their final color. Be patient during your recovery and concentrate on staying healthy so your breasts heal properly. You will see the results emerge over time. It may be helpful for you to take pictures of your progress so you do not feel discouraged.