A breast lift, or mastopexy, is a common cosmetic surgical procedure that gives your breasts a lifted, more youthful appearance if you've experienced sagging from pregnancy, weight changes or just time and gravity. Once you've had surgery, knowing what to expect and following your surgeon's instructions can help your recovery go well and decrease the chances of problems and poor results.
The First 2-3 Days
The first few days after your surgery will most likely be the toughest part of your recovery. Many breast lift patients experience moderate pain during the first few days. Your surgeon may prescribe prescription pain medication, which you should take as directed. Don't take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen unless specifically directed by your doctor. These medications can increase the risk of bleeding.
Your surgeon will remove your drainage tubes and change your wound dressing within the first few days after your surgery as long as you aren't experiencing any complications. Wear your surgical compression bra at all times. You'll most likely be able to shower after your doctor removes your drainage tubes, but you'll need help to wash your hair as you won't be able to lift your arms above your head yet.
Avoid putting any pressure on your breasts. This is particularly important when you're sleeping. Sleep on your back in bed or in a recliner to minimize the chance of turning over onto your stomach.
The First Weeks
Most women are able to return to sedentary jobs within a week or two of surgery. You still won't be able to lift or do any exercise other than walking. Your pain should subside, but your breasts may still be slightly swollen and tender. It's important to avoid wearing underwire bras -- stick to sports bras as you continue your recovery.
You'll be able to shower regularly after the first week, but you may still need help reaching up to wash your hair. Keep your showers warm but not too hot to minimize the chance of the hot water causing additional swelling. If your sutures aren't dissolvable, your surgeon will remove them within the first week or two after your procedure.
The First Months
It often takes a month or more for all of the swelling and bruising to subside following breast lift surgery. Your nipples and breast skin may be numb or desensitized for six weeks or more after surgery. In some rare cases, this numbness can be permanent, but feeling returns for most women within a month or two. You should continue to avoid underwire bras until your surgeon gives you permission to do so. Supportive, soft sports bras will help prevent swelling and pain from returning.
After the first six weeks most women are able to return to normal activities, including exercise, lifting heavy objects and sleeping on their stomachs. Your scars will continue to fade during the first several months after surgery. Though they'll never go away completely, they do fade to white for most women, though this process could take up to a year. Using cortisone cream or silicone sheeting over your scars can help them fade faster.
Make sure to call your surgeon if you experience severe pain or any signs of an infection, such as fever, unusual discharge, severe swelling or redness. Your surgeon will also be able to answer any questions about when you'll be able to return to your work and specific activities.