Recovery After Breast Reduction

First day instructions

  • Send Dr. Yates photos and any questions
  • Get up and walk
  • No lying on your stomach, sleeping on your back is preferred
  • A small amount of incisional bleeding is normal.
  • Bruising and swelling are normal and will last for days to weeks
  • You can take the bra off to shower.  Water directly over incision tape is fine.
  • Get off the pain medications as soon as possible
  • Take antibiotics as prescribed
  • Take stool softeners if you are taking any narcotics
  • Take the single dose of Gabapentin if prescribed
  • Stay hydrated
  • Stay active, minimal bed rest is better for a safe and quick recovery
  • Your next visit is at three weeks.   In-person or online.

Three-week instructions

  • Remove incision tape
  • Begin scar cream.  Biocorneum, Mederma or Biodermis cream.  Apply a very thin layer for 2 months.
  • Send Dr. Yates photos and any questions
  • You are able to resume physical work and moderate exercise
  • Full exercise at 6 weeks
  • The breast size is still a little swollen but nearing the final size
  • You may wear a bra of your choice but don’t buy too many until you are closer to the final size after the 6-week point
  • Areas of firmness and discomfort are common, massage as necessary
  • Areas of numbness are common and will almost certainly improve
  • If you feel you have been treated with exceptional care, leave a review!
  • Schedule an online or in-person follow-up visit at 3 months.

Three-month instructions

  • You have no limitations.   Check-in with Dr. Yates with photos and any questions


  • You have no limitations.   Check-in with Dr. Yates with photos and any questions
  • Return to the office for postoperative photos
  • Leave a kind review 🙂

General Recovery Tips

Minimizing Bruising and Swelling

Bruising and swelling occurs with almost every surgical procedure. Usually, the swelling lasts for only a few days to weeks. There are steps that can be taken before and after surgery to help minimize bruising and swelling… Read More.


Scars are the necessary trade-off of many plastic surgeries.  The goal is a near-invisible, thin, skin-colored scar.  Scars are ideally minimized by early attention but there are options for treatment of problem scars as well… Read More.

Preparation for surgery

prepare your house for surgery

1-2 weeks before surgery you should have your childcare, work arrangements, and caretaker lined up.  Depending on the procedure you may have a few recovery items on hand.  Start with an organized, clean house and full pantry.  If you are making meals, simple prep. meals and disposable dinnerware.  

prepare your body for surgery

The weeks before surgery are a good time to maximize a healthy diet and stay on top of exercise.  Yoga and heart-healthy exercises are particularly valuable. For almost every procedure stopping smoking 6 weeks before surgery is valuable.  For some it is critical.  Avoid excessive alcohol and marijuana prior to surgery as well. 

Check your medications and supplements

Some medications such as aspirin, fish-oils and some supplements can contribute to bleeding and bruising after surgery.  If you would like to take SinnEcch for bruising you would want to do so before surgery.  The benefit is mild in Dr. Yates’s opinion but some patients swear by it.

Stay away from illness

Avoid getting sick, wash your hands frequently and avoid contact will people who are ill.

Time off Work and exercise

Check the procedure list below for the time you should plan to take off of work or exercise.  With most procedures, office work and light exercise are OK between one to three weeks.  For most procedures, there are no restrictions after six weeks.      

Recovery Supplies

Dr Yates will give you most everything you need after surgery including a bra, scar cream, and dressings as indicated.  A few recommended additional supplies are

  • Bed that reclines, recliner, or extra bed pillows
  • Icy Hot back patch
  • Loose baggy clothes
  • Paper tape 1″
  • Ice packs
  • Stool Softener
  • Ginger Ale
  • Antacid such as Tums
  • Melatonin (not to be used with pain medications)
  • Benadryl
  • Cortisone cream
  • Neosporin
  • Probiotics or yogurt
  • Second stage Spanx or Flexees for appropriate procedures
  • Flexible straws for drinking
  • Water bottles/ Gatorade
  • Entertainment such as DVD or Netflix
  • Cell phone charger near bed and sofa

Breast Reduction Recovery Tips

How long will I be in bed after a breast reduction?
You should expect no significant bedrest after breast augmentation.   Get up and walk.
How long will I have numbness after a breast reduction?
After breast reduction, there can be altered sensation.   Most of this will improve over the first several weeks.   There can be continued improvement in sensation over the next year.
Tell me about pain management after breast reduction?
We use rapid recovery methods for all patients.  For patients with a simple breast reduction surgery there may be essentially no pain at all.   For complex cases or when an implant is used, there may be more pain.  The pain is moderate but usually controlled with arm motion, Tylenol and Ibuprofen.  If narcotics are necessary they are only for 1-2 days.

What do I do with the incisions after breast reduction?
There will be surgical tape on the incision.  They can be left alone and will be removed at approximately three weeks.   They are not “holding” the incision together, which is accomplished by internal sutures.   The purpose of the tape is to protect the scar.   If the tape comes off early apply new tape or leave it alone.
Once the tape is removed you will apply scar cream 1-2 x a day to the incisions.   Biocorneum, Biodermis, and Mederma are good options.   Plan to use scar cream for 2 months. 

When can I shower or swim after breast reduction?
You can shower directly over the incision tape and breasts immediately.  Any soaking should wait until the tape is removed at three weeks.
How long will I need help with childcare after breast reduction?
For toddlers or children that need a lot of care, you will want assistance for a week after surgery.
How long before I can return to the gym after breast reduction?
You can return to light lifting with the arms and a good walk at one week.   You may return to moderate lifting with the arms (10-15 lbs) and heavier lower body lifting by three weeks and full exercise at six weeks.or toddlers or children that need a lot of care, you will want assistance for a week after surgery.
How long before I can return to work after breast reduction?
Office and desk work can be resumed right away.  For most physical jobs you can return at 3 weeks.
When can I return to sexual activities after breast reduction?
It is safe to resume sexual activity by two to three weeks after breast reduction.  Caution with handling the breasts for closer to four weeks.
What can go wrong if I don’t follow these recommendations?
Overaggressive activity can cause problems with healing.   In the first week, we are worried about bleeding.   This could result in a hematoma and a second trip to the operating room. 

When will I expect to see my final results?
The breasts will look nice immediately after surgery.   They continue to soften and improve in feel and appearance over the next 2-3 months.

Get in Touch
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Dr. York Yates
2121 N 1700 W
Layton, UT 84041
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Phone: (801) 525-8741

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2121 N 1700 W, Layton, UT 84041 801.525.8741