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After your breast reduction surgery and for the first phase of healing, you will wear a padded surgical bra that provides a slight healthy comprehension and sufficient breast support. You will also be prescribed oral pain medication, effectively reducing or eliminating pain altogether. Within a few days of surgery, you will be able to resume light activity and within 2 weeks you will be able to resume all activities with a few caveats: take it slowly and gradually, don’t lift over your head, and refrain from strenuous activity. Full recovery typically requires 4 weeks.

Swelling after breast reduction

Postoperative swelling will be at its peak in the first week after surgery as the tissue and muscle heals. Swelling will begin to subside toward the end of week 1, but it will likely be from 6 to 12 months before you see the full and final results of your breast reduction surgery. However, don’t take this to mean that throughout that time you will be severely limited in your activities and adventures: the majority of swelling will disappear in 7 to 10 days after surgery, and you will have returned to work in as few as 3 to 5 days and settled back into a normal routine within 2 to 4 weeks. In the first week of recovery, a handful of patients may experience swelling in their ribcage or legs, as gravity causes it to move downward. This, however, isn’t a danger and will clear up with time.

How to reduce swelling after breast reduction

The rate of recovery and disappearance of swelling will vary from patient to patient. But for all patients, there are things she can do to reduce swelling and dramatically speed the healing process. They are:

  •  Stay well hydrated after surgery. Drink 2 liters of water or more daily to help flush out your system.
  • Stick to a healthy and varied diet. Nutrients from a healthy and well-balanced diet will help you reduce postoperative swelling and bruising. A diet rich in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates will go a long way toward giving your body the nutrients it needs to heal faster.
  • Supplement with vitamins, minerals, and iron. Adding vitamins, minerals, and iron through supplements will help your body heal and reduce swelling even faster. While some swelling is the result of accumulated fluids, inflammation is also a natural physical response to injury, as free radicals work to neutralize foreign bodies. These free radicals play a key role in the body’s initial response to trauma but carried on too long they are a cause of inflammation. Supplements and antioxidants curb that overreaction.
  • Aim for Antioxidants. Antioxidant-rich foods and vitamins give you what your body needs to heal faster. These include:
    • Fruits: Raspberries, Goji Berries, Strawberries, Blueberries, Purple or Red Grapes, and Dates
    • Vegetables: Artichoke, Kale, Red Cabbage, Beets, Spinach, Carrots, and Sweet Potatoes.
    • Nuts: Walnuts, Pecans, Almonds, and Pine Nuts
  • Stay safely active. After surgery, plenty of rest will be necessary and welcome. When you feel comfortable with it, within about 48 hours of surgery, move frequently each new day with light exercises that you can tolerate without reaching above your head or doing any heavy lifting. A light walk is perfect and should be done at least once daily to stimulate healthy blood circulation. 
  • Don’t reach or lift above your head. While exercising lightly and going about your daily routines, don’t lift anything heavy and don’t reach or stretch your arms above your head. These are things you should initially avoid altogether and will ease into as recovery progresses