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Breast Lift Recovery

Finding out what the recovery process is going to be with your breast lift will help you with what to expect afterwards. 

Breast Lift surgery or Mastopexy can take between two to four hours. It is normally done as an out-patient surgical procedure.


                             Breast Lift Recovery

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Recovery from having a breast lift can take up from two to four weeks - sometimes longer, in which you will see some swelling and bruising. It is very important to follow all of your own plastic surgeon’s recommendations post operatively. The new shape and position of your new breasts will be seen immediately, however the final result with the overall appearance will settle in the coming weeks. 

Breast lifts take more than a month before all the swelling and bruising disappears. It is also during this time that the final breast lift results will be seen. Follow your surgeon’s post operative instructions and also ask him before doing anything you might find questionable.

Arnica Montana, bromelian or vitamins A and C all help reduce swelling and discolorations and improve healing. Ask your plastic surgeon if this is right for you.

Applying a warm gentle compress can also help with some of the bruising. By dilating the superficial blood vessels – the body will remove the blood and damaged tissue from the treatment area.




Sometimes permanent bruising is a risk – but it is very rare.  If you see discolorations after several months post op, then you should inquire about IPL (Intense Pulse Light Treatments).  These treatments are a non-invasive method of targeting the hemoglobin in the blood that transports oxygen from the lungs to the tissue and body.  Intense Pulse Light helps with broken capillaries on the face and other parts of the body.  It is a computer generated light pulse to a specific wavelength range – which in turn will heat the visible targeted blood vessel without compromising the surrounding healthy or normal tissue.




During the initial recovery the patient will experience discomfort, bruising and some swelling which can last anywhere from two to three weeks. Your plastic surgeon will prescribe pain medication to help with the discomfort or you might be able to have a pain pump. Making sure you take the medication as directed is paramount, as it helps with keeping the body from any “break through” pain.




It is extremely important for patients to make sure they take their antibiotics on time and that they finish off the entire prescription. By stopping the antibiotic before you are finished, you run the risk of a possible resistant infection occurring.

Keeping up with the pain medication as written will help your body overcome any break through pain episodes. Instead of waiting until you experience pain, taking pain medication at certain regular times will help keep the pain under control.  It is harder to control pain once it has started. One of the most common side effects of the medication is gastrointestinal upset. This means you could have either an upset stomach or diarrhea.

Most plastic surgeons will prescribe an anti-enemic medication to help prevent nausea, which can be brought on by taking the antibiotics and the pain medication on an empty stomach. Make sure you take all medication with some food in your stomach, preferably something that is bland like toast, crackers, etc.

Side Effects of Narcotics:

Constipation is a very common side effect of narcotic pain medications, so you may want to take a stool softener (such as Colace) around the time of surgery and after will help tremendously. Eating a lot of high fiber foods and drinking plenty of water will help get everything going again. The sooner you are off the narcotics and sleeping tablets the better. Make sure you are not drinking alcohol at the same time you are taking narcotics. And also because narcotics can make you drowsy make sure you are not driving while still taking them.




Patients are encouraged to be mobile after surgery and not to be sedentary in order to reduce the chance of forming blood clots in your legs.




A drain may be inserted to help reduce the fluids in the breast. A drain will prevent this fluid from building up pressure behind your incision, and helps reduce the occurrence of a seroma. You will be asked to record the amount of fluid from the drains so that your plastic surgeon can see if when you should be having these removed. Drains are normally removed at your first follow up appointment. Removal is pain free for the most part. There might also be a slight irritation around the wound edges of where the drain was inserted. This goes away quickly once the drains are removed.




Steri-Strips are common to have on top of your incision line and sutures – or if you have internal sutures with tissue glue to help bind the external incision edges. Your surgeon will remove these when you have your sutures removed, and more than likely re-apply the strips to the incision after the stitches are removed. Most surgeons will ask their patients to leave these strips on the incision to help keep tension off of the incision line during recovery. By doing this you will allow your scar to heal into a thin line. 




Sutures (mostly the dissolvable ones) will work themselves to the surface of the incision. This happens quite commonly, and actually when a stitch does pop out, it can come to the surface with an inflamed red spot. Usually you can feel something like ‘fishing line’ around this area. It is best to call the Plastic Surgeon when any suture makes it way to the surface for removal. You really do not want to attempt to do this yourself, as this is way that infections can start, and you have to make sure you are removing a suture that is not something that is permanent. Dissolvable sutures are usually clear color (like fishing line), and permanent sutures are dark blue in color.

There are various types of suture material that is used in closing an incision. Some patients do have problems with sutures, and some sutures are more likely to cause this than others. Braided sutures (such as Vicryl) can cause this and, for that reason, many surgeons have switched to monofilament (unbraided) sutures, such as Monocryl or PDS. Vicryl is an excellent and strong suture material, but it has been associated with "spitting

It is very important that if you see any discharge around this area, if the area feels inflamed or is hot to the touch. Please call your Plastic Surgeon immediately, as this could mean that you have an infection started, and you will need to start on antibiotics immediately




More than likely you will not be able to shower for the first couple of weeks, as most surgeons like to keep the suture area dry. Normally taking a sponge bath will be okay as long as the sutures do not get wet.  Sutures are normally taken out anywhere from 7 – 14 days, depending on the patient’s own healing ability. Every plastic surgeon has their own preferences with what their patient should do regarding this, so make sure you check with your physician.




Usually there is to be no sleeping on the stomach for the first two weeks as well.  This is to allow no external pressure on the surgical area. Most patients find that sleeping with your shoulders elevated with a lot of pillows or using a recliner chair helps relieve pressure in the chest area.

It helps tremendously to sleep on your back in a more upright position for the first few days following surgery. One member on our forum has used the Bed Lounge for her recovery, and it helped her tremendously with sleeping. You can also create a pillow fort out of several pillows to help support you as you rest. Elevation of the upper body and chest reduces the swelling and aching of the breasts.




Patients are required to wear a surgical bra for the first few weeks following surgery.  This bra will help support your breast so that you can keep tension off of the incision line.  Do not wear an under-wire bra or sports bra for the first several weeks because these tend to cut into your incisions (inverted-T Mastopexy – or Anchor Lift). An under-wire bra may push your breasts to set in a location too high.  Each surgeon has his or her preference in regards to a post operative bra, so make sure you ask what they would want their patient to wear.

Although the results of a breast lift are typically long lasting, significant weight fluctuations can have an impact, along with subsequent pregnancies. Most plastic surgeons will not even recommend a lift for those patients who are not done with child bearing, as the results can be compromised with a birth and breastfeeding of a child.




During the first several days it is important to monitor your temperature. This is done so you can check to see if you might have an infection started. It is very important to make sure you take the antibiotics on time. If the breast becomes increasingly warm or hot to the touch and you see redness occurring – call your plastic surgeon immediately. 




No strenuous exercises are advised during recovery, in fact check with your own surgeon to find out what you can and cannot do. Any unnecessary bending or exercising can put undue pressure on the chest and slow the healing down. It is important to make sure you are not doing too much during the recovery process. By doing activities too soon could lead to swelling or edema in the breast area. Also making sure your blood pressure is not elevated during the recovery process, as this can lead to bleeding or a possible hematoma.




It is preferred that if you do smoke, to quit if possible. Smoking reduces circulation which can lead to poorly oxygenated blood – which is needed to heal from the surgery.  

Read more about smoking and cosmetic surgery




It is not uncommon for your menstrual cycle to be altered for a month or two after you undergo surgery. The stress of the surgery and anesthesia plays havoc on your system. Your period will return to normal within a couple of months.




Numbness in the nipples and the surrounding breast tissue after breast lift surgery is normal. This will go away after a few weeks or so. In some rare cases this numbness can be permanent. Plastic surgeons will tell their patients to give this at least a year before diagnosing this as permanent sensation loss, as nerve fibers grow at a very slow rate and can take months before the feeling comes back into the breast area.

Shooting pain from the nerves and tingling during breast lift recovery is also normal. This means the nerves are trying to regenerate, so these sensations are a good sign that the nerves are returning to normal function.




Breast lift scars can be noticeable for a few months following surgery. To have the scars appear red and bumpy at first is normal, but as they heal these scars will fade into thin white lines over the next few months. There are many scar treatments available to reduce the appearance of scars. Patients find that having some scarring is a trade off for getting firmer younger looking breasts.

The more invasive the breast lift is - the more noticeable the scars will be, however each patient is different with their healing.

Different Scar Treatments




Hypersensitive nipples can occur after breast surgery. To help with the discomfort patients should try wearing some sort of gauze pad or Band-aid to help prevent the clothing from rubbing the affected area.




Depression after any plastic surgery procedure is very normal. Most patients experience some sort of “let down” after the procedure simply because there was so much anxiety and excitement preparing for the surgery. It is important to realize that having cosmetic surgery is exactly what the word implies – surgery. Every patient going through a cosmetic procedure wants to feel and look better instantly even though in the real world, this is not the case. Plastic surgery is anticipated with great expectations because we are trying to improve a certain body part. 

It is perfectly normal to question your own motives for having the surgery during the first few days following the procedure. This is a very natural phase of the healing process and understanding this let down or depression will help you cope with your emotional state.




After you are discharged from the surgery center after your procedure, you will be sent home with instructions and important phone numbers to call if there is any unforeseen problem or complication that should arise. These are important numbers to have close by, as they will be how to contact your surgeon and or the on-call surgeon. If you experience anything that hasn’t been covered in what to expect after surgery, call the surgeon immediately. This is why they have given you the phone numbers in the first place. 

Any elevated temperature or excessive bleeding from the incision needs to be communicated immediately to the surgeon. You need to remember that the instruction sheet that your plastic surgeon has given you should always be adhered to. If the instructions you are given are different that what you see on this website, do not waiver from what your plastic surgeon has told you.  Always follow your own plastic surgeon’s instructions!




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