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Preparing for Recovery After a Breast Augmentation, Breast Lift or Breast Reduction

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Cosmetic breast surgeries are among the top plastic surgery procedures that women undergo. 

Of course, that should be no surprise!

Woman wearing post-surgical bandages over her breasts.

The reason for this is quite obvious. The improvements obtained and the stunning results achieved from these procedures leave no doubt as to why so many women choose to have breast augmentation surgery, breast lift surgery (mastopexy), breast augmentation surgery with a lift (mastopexy-augmentation), or breast reduction surgery

As with any plastic surgery procedure, some women are hesitant to undergo a cosmetic breast procedure as they are worried about the recovery process, including concerns about discomfort. 

Fortunately, breast surgery recovery is often not as complicated as you may think. 

Or uncomfortable.

The reality is that for most women undergoing a routine breast augmentation, breast lift with/without implants or a breast reduction, the general recovery is relatively short and simple. There will be restrictions on certain types of activities for variable periods, some of which are patient-specific.  

Whether you are a Scottsdale or Phoenix area local or from elsewhere, below is some information that will give you a better idea of what to expect with your recovery and how to prepare yourself for this process.

Instructions and Guidelines

Whatever procedure that you are undergoing — whether it is a breast augmentation, breast lift or breast reduction, you will be provided with explicit information and guidelines that will prepare you for before, during and after surgery, what you should or can expect, what you can or should not do and for how long, etc. 

We try to make this as easy, straightforward, understandable and stress-free as possible. 

This is not rocket science. 


To maximize your healing potential, it is important that your nutrition is sound — especially for a breast lift and breast reduction. Due to the increased nutritional requirements for ideal healing, a high-protein diet and specific nutritional supplementation will be prescribed.

Smoking, Vaping and Smoking Marijuana

Smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products, vaping or smoking marijuana can adversely affect your surgical outcome. 

Engaging in these activities can cause vasoconstriction of the blood vessels (decrease in size), resulting in less oxygen and nutrition getting to the tissues at the surgical site. 

The consequences of this can be delayed healing, non-healing, tissue death (necrosis) of the nipple-areola complexes, wide and thick scars, substantial deformities and overall poor and compromised results. In addition, there are increased general anesthetic risks and requirements related to their usage.  

It is generally recommended that smoking, vaping and smoking marijuana are stopped from at least one month prior to surgery until at least one month post-surgery. Longer is better. Even one indiscretion during this period can have a real impact.

Postoperative Assistance

Largely related to safety precautions, it is recommended that someone dependable stay with you for at least 24 hours after your surgery. They can also assist you as needed at home or just keep you company.

It is also recommended that someone drive you at least to your first postoperative visit, usually two to three days after surgery.

Dressing Removal

As noted above, your surgical dressing will stay on for around two to three days. It will be removed at your first postoperative visit and typically be replaced with a form-fitting and supportive sports bra. You will be given explicit information prior to surgery about exactly what you need to obtain, including the appropriate sizes. This will be worn for at least several weeks, day and night, for breast lift and breast reduction. The amount of time is shorter for breast enlargement. 


The level of discomfort following surgery varies from person to person. In general, the discomfort level after a breast reduction and a breast lift is relatively mild in most women. Some take pain medication for a few days, whereas others take none at all.

With breast augmentation, where implants are placed behind the muscle, there will be tightness and discomfort for several days to a week or more, though it is rarely more than moderate. A prescribed muscle relaxant can help minimize this and make you feel more comfortable. There is often minimal discomfort when the breast implants are placed in front of the muscle. 

Returning to Work or School

Following these cosmetic breast procedures, most women can return to school or a relatively sedentary job within a week, if not less. Jobs that require very heavy lifting or repetitive arm movements, including reaching, may require up to eight weeks of avoidance, especially for a breast reduction and breast lift. Many employers will allow for modified duty so that you may be able to return to work sooner. 

Specifics will vary from person to person, so please ask if you have any questions.

Activity Restrictions

Typically, you can be up and around the day of surgery, depending on how you feel. For around the first four weeks after surgery, you should do physical activities in moderation that are not exertional. For example, if you want to walk a mile or more in a casual manner, that is okay. Speed walking or running is not.

At around four weeks, you can engage in most physical activities with certain restrictions, including no very heavy weight lifting for six to eight weeks. If you have had a breast lift or breast reduction, it is recommended that you wait at least eight weeks before doing chest workouts and extensive reaching types of activities.

If You Have Any Questions, Ask!

If you have any questions about surgery-related issues, you are strongly encouraged to ask us. We want to make sure that anything that you are not sure about you will be able to get answers for. 

Contact the Arizona Center for Breast Surgery to Learn More

If you have any questions about your cosmetic breast procedure or recovery, please feel free to contact Dr. Steven H. Turkeltaub by calling us at (480) 451-3000 or by using our online form.