After Breast Surgery


Most types of breast surgery require general anesthesia. As patients wake up following the procedure, they can expect to feel tired, groggy, or nauseous for up to 48 hours. During this time, proscribed pain medication will reduce the amount of pain or soreness in the chest area.

Surgery Side Effects

After breast surgery, for most patients the initial recovery time lasts about two weeks. During the initial recovery phase, common side effects of breast surgery include bruising, redness, swelling, soreness, and tenderness. During this time, your skin and the tissues surrounding your breasts are adjusting to their new contours, and the incisions are beginning to heal.

Many patients find that the incisions itch as the skin grows back together. Regardless of the location of your incisions, you can expect some scars to form, though they will fade over time. For most patients, the scars begin a red or pink color, over time fading to blend with the surrounding skin.

Swelling is among the most common side effects experienced by breast surgery patients, and often the one that is most frustrating, since it can obscure the results of the procedure. For at least a week following breast surgery, the chest will be wrapped in surgical dressings, typically topped with an elastic compression garment or surgical bra, which provides support for your breasts as they adjust to their new contours. Wearing these wrappings as recommended by your surgeon can help to control swelling, reduce soreness, and achieve optimum surgical results.

Plan for a successful recovery

You can make your recovery period more restful by having a plan in place before your surgery. Set up a recuperation area in your home, and gather necessary supplies before you go in for surgery. Expect to spend several days resting on the couch or propped up in bed, followed by one to two weeks of light activity.

Most patients find that they are able to return to work and other obligations within two weeks of undergoing breast surgery. However, patients must avoid strenuous activities, particularly movements involving bending over or reaching overhead, for six weeks.

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