Breast Reduction Recovery
Below you will find all the necessary information to ensure that your recovery after breast reduction surgery is as quick, comfortable, and as successful as possible.
Immediately after surgery
After having a general anaesthetic,you may take a few days to recover,feel a little slower,and not “yourself” post operatively.
Immediate after-effects and discharge from the hospital
Breast reduction requires one or two nights in hospital. There will usually be a drain on each breast, which will generally be removed prior to discharge from hospital. Occasionally, patients go home with a drain, which is then removed in our clinic. Pain tolerance is individual and it is expected to feel tender for a few days, however pain relief medication is recommended to ensure a comfortable overall experience to faster recovery time.
To ensure that you are well enough to leave, Dr. Beldholm will see you prior to discharge. You will receive a prescription for pain medications that can be taken at home.
Wound Care, Stitches, Dressings and Garments
To ensure a quick recovery wound care is important. We do not recommend any topical creams or lotions of any kind near the incision to avoid inflammation.
Stitches inserted during surgery are internal and will dissolve over time. A white tape dressing & steri strips will be applied during surgery and this will be removed by the nurse 10 days after your operation.
A special suction dressing will be applied during surgery and this will be removed by the nurse 7-10 days after your operation in our Lorn Clinic.
What does PICO do?
PICO provides suction known as negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) which draws out excess fluid from a wound and protects the incision area to ultimately help promote healing.
How does PICO work?
PICO consists of an NPWT pump connected to an absorbent gentle adhesive dressing. The dressing is applied to the wound bed and extra strips are placed over the outside edge to help hold the dressing in place. When the pump is turned on, air is pulled out of the dressing and excess fluid from the wound will start to enter the dressing. The dressing helps to prevent bacteria from entering the wound. It may also improve blood flow to the wound which assists healing.
The therapy pump is battery operated. The batteries may be changed with 2 lithium AA batteries if required. They should only be changed if the battery indicator flashes.
How do I know if the PICO system is working?
While the PICO pump is working correctly a green light located at the top of the device will flash continuously. The dressing should have a slightly wrinkled appearance and feel firm to the touch.
How often will the dressings have to be changed?
The dressings may be left in place for up to 10 days wound. This will depend on the size, type, and drainage volume. Your nurse or doctor will determine dressing change.
Will the dressing changes hurt?
Some people may experience slight discomfort during dressing changes, specifically during cleaning of the wound, depending on the type and position of the wound. If you feel any discomfort, please tell the person who is changing your dressing. This way, they will be able to give you advice and, if necessary, pain-relief medication to help ease the discomfort.
Can you move around while on the therapy?
Patients using PICO™ can move around. PICO is discrete and can be easily carried around in a pocket or the PICO bag to allow maximum movement.
When you are asleep
Make sure that the PICO pump is placed somewhere safe and cannot be pulled off a table or cabinet onto the floor during sleep.
Disconnection of the pump from the dressing
Do not disconnect the dressing. If it is not working please contact our office. Disconnecting the dressing may introduce bacteria to the wound. There is a connector built into the tubing between the pump and dressing, this should not be disconnected.
Showering and washing
The PICO™ pump is splash proof but should not be exposed to jets of water. Make sure that you keep the pump away from water if you are having a shower.
The dressing on top of the wound is water resistant. You can shower or wash with the dressing in place, as long as you take care not to expose it to direct jets of water and not to soak it. Soaking the dressing may cause it to fall off.
Position of the pump, while therapy is being delivered
The PICO™ pump may be carried with you in your pocket or wherever is the most comfortable for you.
You will leave the hospital wearing a surgical compression garment, which is designed to minimise swelling, bruising, and provide breast support. Please check the BREAST REDUCTION CONSENT FORM for details of possible complications with this procedure.
As you are still in the recovery phase of the operation when discharged, it’s important to arrange in advance for someone to drive you home and assist you following your operation. Most patients can resume driving approximately two weeks after surgery, but before you attempt to drive, ensure you can turn to check over both shoulders, and can manoeuver the car safely without discomfort.
You are encouraged to go for gentle walks as soon as possible after surgery to prevent complications and to ensure blood flow quickly returns to normal.
Your surgical compression garment should be worn day and night for four weeks, then for two weeks at night only; but you can remove it for showering. Compression garments will assist with healing and shaping of breasts post surgery.
If you are up and about, walking around, and if applicable, you can remove your surgical stockings after 48 hours.
You will need to sleep on your back for four weeks following surgery. You may tilt yourself slightly to the side after one week, but do not sleep on your tummy for six weeks. There is no need to sleep elevated on pillows or in a reclining chair. Sleep and rest is important to allow the body to heal.
You can shower, but you should pat the dressing dry afterwards; using hair dryer on COOL setting can be used over the wounds, avoid using a hair dryer over your wounds on the ‘HOT’ setting, as your skin may be numb after the operation and it’s possible to burn yourself without realising. Sometimes the edges of the dressing curl up and these can be trimmed with scissors, but if you are unsure about anything, please call our office.
Exercise and activity following surgery
Keep physical activity to a minimum for a week or two following surgery, with only light activities such as gentle walking or light home duties: no vacuuming, hanging clothes on the line, or bending to pick things up. As a general guide for the first two weeks lifting a full kettle as a guideline for how much can be lifted.
Try not to elevate your arms higher than shoulder level and avoid heavy lifting or pushing/pulling for four weeks. At your follow-up appointment, Dr. Beldholm will advise you how to gradually re introduce heavier exercise.
Arousal after breast reduction surgery can cause the nipple incision to swell, so it’s best to avoid sexual activity for at least a week. Only gentle contact with your breasts is advised for six weeks.
What to expect after your surgery
Pain and healing
Following surgery, you may feel some pain for the first few days, especially when moving around or coughing. Although most people are up and about in a day or two, it’s common to feel some discomfort and full recovery will take four to six weeks.
Postoperative swelling may cause some initial loss of feeling in the nipples and breast skin, but this generally fades within six weeks.
If liposuction has been performed on your breasts during surgery, you should expect some ‘oozing’ from the puncture sites. These are usually around the sides of the breasts and the fluid will have an appearance of watery blood. This will settle in the first few days, but if you have further oozing after this, contact our office.
Your first menstruation after the operation may cause swollen and painful breasts or random, shooting pains, as the nerves recover and your breasts settle.
Bleeding or severe pain
It is normal for a small amount of fluid to drain from the wounds after liposuction. Please don’t hesitate to call Dr. Beldholm’s office on 4934 5700 (business hours) if you have any unusual symptoms, such as odour, bleeding, or severe pain. If you have urgent concerns out of hours, please call our emergency number on 0499 588 444.
Return to work
Most patients can return to non-manual work and social activities in about two weeks. If your work requires strong physical activity, you should plan for 3-4 weeks of recovery time.
Wearing a bra
After four weeks of wearing your compression garment, you may commence wearing an underwire bra. Dr. Beldholm recommends a special soft surgical or athletic bra for maximum support.
To optimise your surgical results, it’s best to stop smoking for at least four weeks after surgery.
Post op appointments
You will see Dr. Beldholm immediately before being discharged from hospital, and if possible the next day in his clinic ,as well as further review appointments with our nurse for dressings
We recommend a course of LED light therapy postoperatively, as this will improve healing time. Please refer to your LED light therapy information sheet.
Routine follow-up appointments will be made with Dr. Beldholm at one, three, six, and twelve months after surgery.