How Soon After Breast Reduction Can I Begin Lap Swimming?

I plan on getting a breast reduction done at the beginning of November, once cross country is over. Practice for swim team begins several weeks after this. How soon can I get in the pool and begin practicing? Also, while it seems 1 week is the recommended time off from school, will it be possible to get back in less time than this? I had ACL reconstruction surgery done in March and was back in school after 2 days, even though I was still on meds and not quite feeling normal. Thanks in advance

Doctor Answers 9

How soon after breast reduction can I begin lap swimming?

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Hello! Thank you for your question! On average, a period of approximately 3-4 weeks on average is typical. Submerging in stagnant water, be it bathtubs, jacuzzis, pools, lakes, oceans, etc. can certainly increase your chance for infections. I usually await the incisions to be fully healed prior to allowing for this type of activity. If you do have any wound issues or delayed healing, expect that you will be restricted from doing such things.  In terms of the activity, I usually restrict vigorous activity for approximately 4 weeks as well. 

However, I allow my patients to shower and clean incisions at 3 days postoperative. Regardless, the answer will vary amongst plastic surgeons and you should discuss this with your surgeon and follow his/her instructions. Best wishes!

Time off from swimming with breast reduction surgery

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I ask that all my breast and body contouring patients refrain from hot tubs, pools, or bathtubs for 6 weeks.    I do not want any bacteria to track into a fresh incision during the healing process.    By 6 weeks, 80% of the tensile strength of the incision is present and I feel comfortable with a patient swimming without restriction.  

Recovery can be very subjective, and therefore I will always tailor my recommendations based on each patients progress.   As far as time off from school, I would plan to be off for 2 weeks to give your body ample time to recover, but I find 60-70% of patients ready to return to desk work by 1 week.

Bottomline, you are young and healthy, I believe you will do very well.    I just ask that you take the appropriate precautions during your recovery period to minimize your chance of infection or delayed wound healing.    I wish you a safe and happy recovery.  :))

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon

How Soon After Breast Reduction Can I Begin Lap Swimming?

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Breast reduction surgery is completely different healing than knee operations. I recommend at least 1 month from competitive activity. Too early return to activities can cause poor scar formation. 

Competitive swimming and returning to school after breast reduction

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It is clearly possible to return back to school in less than a week though everyone's pain tolerance and response to anesthesia is different.

Regarding competitive swimming, you would be best served waiting at least 6 weeks. If all your incisions are healed it may be possible to get in the pool by 4 weeks. However, you would be stressing the still weak repairs/healing at that time. Even starting at 6 weeks, you will increase the risk of forming thicker scars (hypertrophic) so you would need to be very aggressive in scar management.

Discuss with your plastic surgeon your issues and concerns. Ultimately, he/she will be operating on you and you should following his/her advice.

Activity after Breast Reduction

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Breast Reduction is not a procedure that really involves the underlying muscle.  However, the portion of the surgery that lifts and tightens your breast will certainly be stressed by the extreme stretching that you likely practice in the pool.  My suggestion is that you find a time when you can rest from swimming for the 2-4 weeks that is likely appropriate after breast reduction.  This is elective surgery so there's no reason to compromise your result in any way.

When can I swim laps after breast reduction surgery?

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I recommend 1 week off of school or non-strenuous work, but if you are feeling well and don't have to be active at school, you may be up to going back a few days early.  Then 4-6 weeks before strenous activity if everything heals normally.  You want to give your body time to heal without forming fluid or blood collections, increasing swelling, and straining or stretching the healing incisions.

Swimming after breast reduction

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Most your individuals will be good candidates for a vertical pattern or short scar breast reduction. Our patients will return to work of school within a week, and if you are very motivated you may be out a day or two sooner. We would allow swimming after two weeks. Of course if you have planned a 'T' patterned reduction healing may take longer as there can be delays for some where the three lines of the T meet.

Best of luck,


Breast reduction recovery

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In my practice I would recommend one week away from school or work and at least six weeks away from swimming and other strenuous exercise. You may require more time depending on how your recovery goes. For example, if you expect any complications you may need additional time away.

Best wishes.

Probably a month or so.

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The long incisions after breast reduction take time to seal to the extent that immersion particularly for a long period of time (such as to work out) can be harmful early on.


A good guess is 4 weeks out of the pool, but it would depend upon how you heal after surgery. As always ask your surgeon.


Best Regards,


John Di Saia MD

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon

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.