How Long After a Breast Reduction Are You Laid Up?

Doctor Answers 21

Recovery after a Breast Reduction

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Thank you for your question.  In my practice, most patients are back to their normal daily routine, including work, within 3-5 days after surgery.  With that said, for the first 4-6 weeks patients are required to refrain from any physical activities including exercising and heavy lifting.  Patients will vary on the length of time they request off from their employers the same way that they vary on their discomfort tolerance, but most patients do quite well quite quickly.  

Please remember however that patient recovery will vary from patient to patient.  As such, I would recommend consulting and discussing your concerns with your board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in breast reduction procedures.  Surgical technique, expertise and experience, in addition to a patient's ability to bounce back, will play a large role in the amount of downtime you will specifically require.  I hope this helps and best of luck!

Plan on a Minimum of 10 Days

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There are different aspects to recovery following breast reduction. If, by "laid up," you mean how long before you can return to work, the answer is usually about a week to 10 days (depending on the type of job you have). If you're wondering about how long before you can resume strenuous workouts at the gym or other active physical activity, that will be more like a month. You should follow your plastic surgeon's instructions when it comes to recovery. And remember that any recovery timeline is a guideline; each patient recovers at her own unique pace.

I tell my patients that I don’t want them lying in bed after surgery. In general, the best healing and fastest recovery comes with being up and about on your feet and walking right away.

James N. Romanelli, MD, FACS
Long Island Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Recovery after breast reduction

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Depending on your overall health, a breast reduction could be done as an outpatient (meaning you go home the same day). Most plastic surgeons will encourage you to start walking the same day and not to stay in bed except for normal sleep. Taking narcotic pain medications for 3 to 7 days is typical and many patients return to light duty work within 1 week. By 4 to 6 weeks, most all other activities can be resumed. Although there is some "down time”, most patients don't mind since they quickly feel so much better with their new smaller breasts.

Karol A. Gutowski, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

Time off after breast reduction

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Patients do very well in terms of not needing pain medication after several days. I a, very conservative and suggest that my patients take two weeks off from work. In this economy, there is nothing worse than underestimating the time needed for recuperation and having an angry employer. Sutures are removed by or before two weeks. I am also cognizant that our NYC commuting experience is a trying one for many women and that they aren't ready to resume strap hanging a week after surgery and that it takes time to recuperate from the effects of general anesthesia. Many women are in very good shape a week after surgery and use week 2 to recoup before returning to work.

How much time off after a Breast Reduction...

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Breast Reduction is a procedure where the surgeon is removing excess breast tissue and skin to achieve smaller breasts.  Because the muscles are not touched there shouldn't be much pain, most patients complain of being uncomfortable.  The recommended recovery time would be one week for office jobs.  Any jobs requiring heavy lifting would need more time off, approximately two to three weeks depending on healing.  You would need to discuss your job requirements with your surgeon to find out the exactly how much recovery time is needed.

Breast Reduction Recovery Varies

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The time required for recovery following a breast reduction and all surgery varies a good deal among patients.  I have had some patients who were taking only Tylenol for pain control on the night of surgery and others who required narcotics 3 weeks post-op.  Most patients whose work is sedentary can return to work in 1-2 weeks, but women whose jobs involve heavy lifting and straining may need to take 6 weeks or so off.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon

How long will a LIFT keep me DOWN?

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That is a very good question that I hear regularly.  The best first step is to check with your surgeon about his personal recommendations, because they may vary slightly depending on how he performs the surgery.  I usually recommend that pt's avoid lifting greater than 20 lbs for 4-6 weeks but they can do light normal activity the night of surgery.  Therefore, if you are doing any heavy lifting at work then you should get someone to give you a hand. Most patients can make it back to non physically taxing work at a week after surgery.  That being said you have to know yourself and be honest with yourself.  If you are very tough and bounce back right after other surgeries or major events, then you will likely do very well afterwards.  If you know at heart that you really don't like pain and it is harder for you to bounce back after things then you will take a little longer to recover.  Pain is a very subjective experience and differs from person to person dramatically.  I can do the exact same breast reduction on two different patients on Thursday and one is back to work on Monday a few days later and another one may still be moving slowly two weeks later.  If you are resilient and have an uneventful surgery you will likely be able to get back to work in a week or sooner after surgery but you will likely still be a little sore when doing certain movements and somewhat fatigued. Some really motivated patients have surgery on Wednesday or Thursday and are back to work on Monday, but most patients take at least a week off.  Best of luck on your journey. 

Jonathan Amspacher, MD
Kansas City Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Breast reduction recovery

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Hello and than you for the question!

1-2 weeks off work, depending of your work nature. No heavy lifting and heavy exercise for 4-6 weeks,

Providing everything goes well, dressings and soft bra for 3-4 weeks.

80 % from the final result at 3 months, the rest can take 6-12 months.

I hope that helps!

But talk to your surgeon, it depends o your particular circumstances, medical history, type of procedure etc.

Carmen Munteanu, MD, FRACS
Melbourne Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Breast Augmentation Recovery

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Thank you for your question. 

You will experience some swelling or discomfort as the anaesthetic wears off, which is managed with prescribed pain relief. Usually you are able to go home on the day of your operation, but in some circumstances your surgeon may recommend an overnight stay in a hospital.

You will return for a check -up within the first few days after surgery. You should expect some initial swelling and firmness – this is normal. Tape is applied to the healing wounds to help reduce scar formation. You will be provided with instructions on care of your surgical site and you will need to wear your surgical support bra for three to four weeks afterwards. Swelling normally takes up to six weeks to settle and your stitches should dissolve over three months or so. A small scar will remain either under the breast fold, in the areola, or in the natural crease under the arm. The scar’s appearance will gradually improve over three to nine months. Best of luck!

Dhaval M. Patel 

Double Board Certified 

Plastic Surgeon 

Hoffman Estates 




Dhaval M. Patel, MD
Hoffman Estates Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 100 reviews

Breast Reduction Recovery?

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Thank you for the question.

Like every procedure performed,  every patient will have a different recovery experience. Some of this experience will depend on the patient's personality/pain threshold etc.

Most patients are “laid up” for a few days and return  to light activities within 7 to 10 days. Heavy lifting should be delayed for 4 to 6 weeks.

Best wishes.


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.