Ask a doctor

Breast Reduction and Lift Recovery Time

I'm seriously considering breast reduction and lift. I'm 18 and very active (I'll be playing college soccer starting this August.) I'm a 34DDD and I want to be at most a 34C. I can't afford to get too out of shape if I get this surgery, will it take me a long time to recover?

Doctor Answers 28

Breast Reduction Recovery Time?

Thank you for the question.

You may find that you will be able to return to lower body workouts one week after surgery. Strenuous upper body exercise and/or lifting me require 4 to 6 weeks of recovery.

Best wishes.

Breast Reduction and Lift Recovery Time

Every person heals a bit differently, but for the most part you can expect to get back to exercising within 4 weeks. You really want to make sure you have enough time to heal from this surgery, the worst thing you can do is rush a recovery. You need a good amount of time to make sure you heal before you put your body through strenuous activities. Here are some things you can expect after surgery: first few days you must wear a bandage or special surgical bra. For the first two weeks you will experience swelling and bruising, and at about 1-2 weeks your stitches can be removed. You can return to work or school within one to two weeks depending on your own personal recovery. Now, for the next few months after surgery you should be very gentle with your movements and activities, as your breasts are still very tender. I would recommend no exercise at least 4 weeks, but please talk to your doctor, he will monitor you and let you know how you are doing and when you are ready to start training. Full recovery take anywhere from 6mo-1yr. The best advice I can give you is to talk to a few board certified plastic surgeons doctors for advice, let them know what you need so that he/she may set some reasonable expectations for the both of you. Good luck!

Kenneth Bermudez, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Breast Reduction Recovery

Breast reduction is one of the most satisfying of all plastic surgery procedures for the patient  when it is done skillfully. Breast reduction recovery usually takes 4 weeks.

In younger patients who are fit physically and physiologically it can take less time.

For a few days after surgery you may need some pain med to control minimal pain.

You can go back to normal exercising in six weeks.

Your surgeon can help you have a shorter recovery if smaller incisions are used to perform the procedure.

Hope this was helpful.

Dr. Sajjadian

Ali Sajjadian, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 176 reviews

Recovery Time after Breast Reduction & Lift Varies from Patient to Patient

Breast reduction is a commonly performed operation amongst female athletes. Many of these patients not only report alleviation of symptoms, but improved athletic performance as well following breast reduction surgery.
It’s important to remember that recovery varies from patient to patient. We generally recommend taking one week off from school and work following this procedure, but many patients are able to return sooner. Strenuous activity such as athletics should be avoided for four to six weeks following surgery.
Patients are required to wear a specialized support bra for three weeks and a sports bra for an additional three months. It’s important to remember that complete wound healing takes at least a year.

Breast Reduction Recovery Time

A breast reduction or a breast lift has a recovery time of between three to six weeks. During the first three weeks it is necessary to protect the area from undue stress so as to allow it to fully heal. During this time we would recommend that the elbow not be lifted above the shoulder height and you do not lift more than five pounds. After approximately a week or 10 days, you could use a recumbent bike to exercise and increase your heart rate. Hopefully this will help to keep you in a reasonably good cardio condition. Full recovery would not be for at least six weeks when you could not worry about any type of injury to your breasts. It would be best to refrain from any type of soccer practice where you could be hit in the chest for six weeks.

John J. Edney, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Recovery Time After Breast Reduction

Every surgeon has their own postoperative protocol regarding exercise in the post-op period so it is important that you understand fully your surgeon's instructions.   In general, I make patient's understand that healing takes place over many weeks.   The knitting together fibers of your new breast will not be at full strength until 8 weeks post-op.   As a result, I make my patients restrict all upper body activity for at least 4 weeks.   I allow them to begin increasing lower body activity around 3 weeks post-op, but they must protect their healing breasts with good mammary support and they must follow careful incision care.   The exercise level can increase gradually to include gentle upper body motion between 4 to 8 weeks.   At 8 weeks, I allow patients to pursue their activities full strength with good mammary support.   I feel patient's should give themselves the best opportunity for ideal healing if they are going to undergo a breast reduction.   It is my experience that patients are generally thrilled with the athletic freedom breast reductions achieve. 

Carlin Vickery, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Breast Reduction Recovery

Recovery after any procedure varies among individuals.  A good news is that breast reduction recovery is not too long and it is not very painful.  Most of my patients take pain medication about 3-5 days.  You should take about a week off from work or school.  Please do not perform any heavy activities or exercises for 3-4 weeks.

4-6 Weeks

Assuming an uncomplicated recovery, it generally takes about 4 weeks before you can resume aerobic excercise and 6 weeks before unrestricted activity following breast reduction surgery.

George Sanders, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Breast Reduction for An Athlete

You may benefit tremendously, particularly when your breast size is currently interfering with your activities.

Plan on a 4-6 week period of low impact fitness and lower body resistance training. It is very important to give the incisions (internal and external) adequate time to heal. I advise a full 6 weeks before getting back to running, jumping, big arm motions.  Being careful to avoid healing complications is well worth it, though a challenge for athletes who are used to pushing limits.  Mother Nature still has her schedule!

The tool or technique (laser, liposuction, etc.) does not change healing time!

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews


Breast reduction, or reduction mammaplasty patients are among the most satisfied of all plastic surgery patients. Large breasts (macromastia) can often decrease quality of life for a woman. With breast reduction, you can have smaller breasts that sit higher on your chest wall. You will also find relief in your neck and back with the decrease in weight and more ergonomic position of your breasts.
There are several different variations of breast reduction, differing by size, and amount of incisions; procedure; and the results. The different types of reduction techniques include: The wise pattern breast lift, the anchor shaped incision, and the donut mastopexy.
1. The wise pattern breast lift involves an anchor-shaped incision around the natural contour of the breast. To most patients surprise, this scar is mostly hidden under the inferior aspect of the breast. However, the scar around the nipple/areola is visible. Most patients heal this anchor type scar very well and are satisfied with smaller areola in exchange for the scars. This surgery is used when there is a lot of excess skin that needs to be removed in order to lift the breast and give it a more aesthetic shape.
2. Often times, the anchor shaped incision can me diminished to create a lollipop or J shaped incision. This results in some excess skin at the inferior aspect of the breast near the breast crease that will flatten out over a 6 month period. Some patients are willing to tolerate this excess skin for 6 months in exchange for a smaller scar. This is a personal decision that each patient can make.
3. The donut mastopexy involves creating an incision around the areola and removing a doughnut-shaped area of skin. This surgery can be used for patients that need a smaller amount of lifting. This surgery results in a scrunched-up look to the breast skin surrounding the areola for about 6 months before it flattens out. Patients need to be understanding and tolerant of this in exchange for an areola-only scar. These patients do run the risk of areola widening as well.
Insurance may cover some of these cases when back pain, shoulder bra-notching, and rashes under the breast are present. Insurances vary though and your doctor can submit a report and photos to see if your insurance approves your procedure.
The ideal size depends on the size of your hips and waist. Your surgeon will be able to guide you in this decision.
The risks of the procedure include bleeding, infection, bruising, poor scarring, pain, swelling, and changes to nipple and areola sensation, and rarely, partial or total nipple loss. The recovery time is usually a couple weeks if all goes well. In general, however, breast reduction patients are some of the most satisfied and grateful plastic surgery patients. This is truly a life-changing procedure. In my area, the cost ranges from 6700-8500. Best of luck!

Sheila S. Nazarian, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.