Breast Lift Recovery and Healing | Tips For Quicker Recovery

Dr. Robert Schwartz
August 30, 2022

A breast lift, also called a mastopexy, is a procedure women undergo when their breasts lose their firmness and shape. Your breasts may sag and deflate from breastfeeding, ageing, and even weight loss. Breast lift recovery time varies, and the rate of healing stages will depend on multiple factors. This article will break down the breast lift recovery stages, provide healing tips, and more.  

How Painful is the Recovery from a Breast Lift?

Every breast lift patient's recovery experience differs, and your pain level can vary with your health, age, tolerance, and physical activity. But breast lifts are usually not particularly painful, with most women reporting mild to moderate pain for a few days afterward. Our patients tend to feel fine with our non-narcotic pain regimen and no opiates. 

How Long is the Recovery from a Breast Lift?

Since breast lifts aren't particularly painful, and our patients don't usually require narcotics, women with desk jobs typically return to work in 3 to 4 days. If you work from home, you may be able to resume work part-time even sooner. You will probably need one to two weeks off if your job requires lifting, strenuous activity, or repetitive movements. Our patients return to the gym or other workouts three weeks after surgery. 

What Are the Breast Lift Recovery Stages? 

The breast lift recovery stages are incremental, varying from day to day to week by week. Let's take a look at the steps below: 

Breast Lift Recovery Day By Day 

Here's what to expect during the initial days of your breast lift recovery period: 

  • Immediately after waking from the breast lift surgery, you will likely feel tired and slightly sore. 
  • You will need someone to drive you home and keep an eye on you overnight, assisting you with any tasks that are too strenuous to do on your own. 
  • You will have sterile dressings over your incisions. Leave these in place. In most but not all cases, we will place you in a surgical support bra. Leave this on as well. Your skin edges may ooze a little blood, which can sometimes stain the bra. This small amount of bleeding is normal and shouldn't cause you concern. 
  • You will receive an antibiotic to take after surgery. This is most often cephalexin but might be something else if you have special requirements or allergies. Take your antibiotic on schedule until it runs out or as instructed by your surgeon.
  • You'll also be prescribed one or more medications for pain. These may be narcotic or non-narcotic. Most of our breast lift patients do not require narcotics. Please take pain medication as needed. If you're not in pain, there's no need to take pain meds. 
  • You will heal best if you give your body the rest it needs to recover. That means no strenuous activity until your surgeon says it's okay (for us, that's usually three weeks after surgery.) That means until then, no lifting more than 5 pounds and no activities that make your heart rate go up. We encourage you to get up and walk around your house starting the first day. Walking is important to prevent blood clots in your legs that can occur after any surgery.

Breast Lift Recovery Week By Week 

Though each woman heals at her own rate, we can give you some guidelines for when you will see your results.

  • If you bruise from the surgery, these will mostly be gone in 10 to 14 days.
  • You will see about 75% of your final result by the end of the month, and most of your swelling will be gone. Almost all your swelling will be gone, and you'll see 90% of your final result in two months.
  • The last 10% of your healing and complete fading of your scars usually take another 6 to 12 months.

Dos & Don'ts After Breast Lift Recovery

Now that you are familiar with the breast lift recovery and healing process, let's consider what you should and shouldn't do following your procedure. 

  • Don't lift anything heavier than five pounds for the first week after surgery. For weeks two and three, not more than ten pounds. Lifting heavy objects soon after surgery can tear your sutures and cause bleeding inside the breast.  
  • Don't sleep on your stomach or side because these positions put excess pressure on your breasts. Sleeping in a half-sitting position for the first two nights can help reduce swelling, but it’s not critical. If you can't sleep semi-sitting, lying flat on your back is okay. And if you don't sleep well on your back, try propping yourself halfway up on your side with a long pillow behind you. 
  • Do not smoke for at least six weeks after your breast lift. Smoking decreases the blood supply to your skin, and your nipples need all that blood to heal. If you smoke, you risk completely losing one or both nipples. Seriously, smoking after a breast lift is crazy risky.
  • Do not drink alcoholic drinks for at least seven days, and definitely not until you have stopped taking pain medication. Alcohol and pain medication is a dangerous combination. 
  • Keep wearing your compression bra post-surgery until your plastic surgeon gives you the green light to remove it. The bra supports your healing breasts and helps control swelling.
  • Eat a nutritious, balanced diet and stay well hydrated. Surgery recovery is not the time for calorie restriction. 
  • Take short, slow, non-strenuous walks as soon as possible to help decrease the risk of blood clots and swelling.
  • Once your incisions heal sufficiently (usually about four weeks), apply silicone tape or lotion to them. Silicone makes scars heal faster and better.
  • Protect your incisions from the sun or tanning beds for the first year. Ultraviolet light can darken the incisions. Wear dark-colored bathing suits ideally with UV blocking fabric. Apply good sunscreen if going topless.
  • Sleep. Recovering from surgery demands more from your body. Give yourself the rest you need.

If you have any questions about breast lift surgery, get in touch with Dr Schwartz and book a consultation today.

Read our article about the scars after a breast lift surgery and what they will look like.

Find out more
Breast procedures
Find out more
Body procedures
Find out more
Face procedures