4-6 Weeks Off Work Normal After Breast Reduction?

I thought I had been told by my doctor that I would be off work for 1-2 weeks, but when I called to schedule the surgery the scheduling nurse said it would be 4-6 weeks due to the nature of my work (hospital, including ER). Everything I read seems to point more to 1-2 weeks. Do some occupations require that much time off?

Doctor Answers 11

4-6 Weeks Off Work Normal After Breast Reduction?

They make chocolate and vanilla for good reason: everyone is different.

However I would say that 4-6 weeks off work following breast reduction sounds like a lot, unless you have a medical condition that predisposes you to a slow recovery.

I advise most patients that they can expect to return to work within 2-3 weeks of breast reduction surgery.

There is something to be said for not lying around at home for too long after surgery. It's beneficial both physically and mentally to get back to your normal routine, once you are past the early phases of fatigue and discomfort.

Good luck!

Vancouver Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 136 reviews

Time off after breast reduction

As a rule our patients take one to two weeks off after breast reduction, and most take only one. The insurance plans in our area often do not allow overnight stay, and we have used short scar reduction when possible, and do not use drains. Lifting is not an issue as there is no muscular discomfort. Jobs that involve physical labor may take more time to recover, finding the time is another issue.

Best of luck, peterejohnsonmd.com

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Allow enough time for recovery following breast reduction surgery

The main question is to avoid activities that put stress on your incisions.  This can cause them to separate and widen.   I usually want breast reduction patients to avoid activities that make the breasts bounce up and down.   There is no standard formula for calculating how much time will be needed for your recovery.   Some patients will obviously do better than others.   Your body will tell you if you are doing too much.   In general expect to take pain medication night and day for 2 - 3 days and then night only for 2 - 3 more days.  You may be able to work with slight lifting restrictions after one week but you may need more like 10 days.  

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Breast reduction recovery

Recovery is measured by different factors. Healing time may be different than time off work. In general, absent any healing problems, most patients can resume a relatively sedentary lifestyle 2 weeks after surgery. For strenuous work requiring physical tension or pressure to the breast area, 3-4 weeks is more reasonable since wound strength is not significant after two weeks.

Robin T.W. Yuan, M.D.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

6 weeks is prudent

Any job that requires heavy lifting requires a longer time off from work, so 6 weeks sounds about right. Sedentary work would be about 1-2 weeks.

Leila Kasrai, MD, FRCSC
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

Recovery from breast reduction

Your recovery time really depends on:

  • How you heal.
  • Your pain tolerance.
  • Your job.

I tell patients 2 weeks off for a desk job and 4 weeks off if they have a physical job (driving a bus, construction).  With your employment situation, you may be able to get some sort of light duty for a few weeks.  I'm sure your surgeon will be able to help you figure this out.


Lisa Lynn Sowder, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

Breast Reduction and Time Off?

Congratulations on your decision to proceed with breast reduction surgery; it is one of the most patient pleasing operations we perform.

Yes, patients who have more strenuous occupations may require more time off,  depending on exactly what is involved at the workplace. You may want to run your question by the surgeon involved after detailing your job acquirements.

Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,487 reviews

Time off after breast reduction

Normally, I recommend that my patients take two weeks off after breast reduction. If your job involves lifting patients or other strenuous physical exertion, an additional week may be required. The only occupation that typically requires 4-6 weeks off would be the uniformed services, including the police, fire and corrections departments.

Robert L. Kraft, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Time Off Work after Breast Reduction

The time off work depends on each individual patient and job description. Most of my patients who do office work can return to their jobs in 1-2 weeks after a breast reduction. For those who do heavy lifting and can't get a temporary light duty assignment, 4 to 6 weeks may be more appropriate. Some if if depends on the patient's comfort level.

Karol A. Gutowski, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 68 reviews

Some Jobs Require 4-6 Weeks Off After Reduction

Some jobs do require that you wait 4-6 weeks before returning to work.  You didn't mention your duties in the hospital.  If lifting, etc. is performed, you probably should take 4-6 weeks off.  If your job is a desk job, then you could probably return to work after 2 weeks.  Your surgeon should be able to answer your questions regarding a return to work date.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 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.