Recovery after Breast Surgery can be Optimized with these Steps

For patients who are about to undergo breast surgery - or those who are considering having this procedure - the recovery period can seem frightening. We want to assure you that Dr. Golshani and his team are committed to supporting you all the way through your healing and recovery to make sure you are comfortable, safe, and healthy during all phases of your breast surgery.

After you wake up, a family or friend will be there to listen to your post-op instructions with you and drive you home. We will make sure you are educated on:

  • How to care for the surgical sites
  • Concerns to look for at the surgical sites or in overall health
  • Emergency contact information
  • When to follow-up with Dr. Golshani
  • Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection

In order to ensure a safe, successful and speedy recovery, it is important to carefully follow all of Dr. Golshani's instructions.

Healing After Breast Surgery

Initial healing may include some swelling and discomfort which can be controlled with proper medication, nutrition and resting. An elastic bandage or support bra should be worn for the first few weeks to minimize swelling and support the breasts as they heal. Your drains will be removed one to two days after surgery and you may shower 48 hours after your drains are removed. It is extremely important to keep the incision sites clean with gentle antibacterial soap and water. Within 10 days following surgery, all sutures will be removed.

Most often, we will advise you that you do not need to stay in bed. In fact, this can slow your healing. You will likely be instructed to engage in light walking as soon as possible in an effort to minimize the potential for certain complications (e.g., blood clots). Usually within a few days of surgery, a return to light activity is possible for those patients who feel ready. Many patients are often ready to return to work and resume normal activity within a week or two, depending on their surgery and the nature of their work.

It is important to remember that you should not engage in any heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for approximately one month after surgery. Specifically, patients need to avoid lifting arms above the shoulders or pulling and lifting heavy objects for four to six weeks after surgery. This includes lifting small children, so we recommend you arrange for help around the house if you will need it.

Healing will continue for several weeks as swelling dissipates and breast shape and position settle. You should continue to follow Dr. Golshani's instructions and attend all follow-up visits. Remember that even if you don’t feel any pain or discomfort, your body is still healing and you may not have your usual amount of energy for a couple of weeks. Take it easy and gradually increase your level of activity until you are back to normal.

Expectations after Breast Surgery

The following are normal and expected symptoms of your body and new breasts after breast surgery:

Swelling & Bruising

  • Moderate swelling and bruising are normal.
  • However, severe swelling and bruising may indicate bleeding or possible infection.

Discomfort & Pain

  • Mild to moderate discomfort or pain is normal after any surgery.
  • If the pain becomes severe and is not relieved by pain medication, please contact us right away. This could be a sign of a complication.


  • Because your body is building new blood vessels and increasing blood flow and oxygen to your breasts, do not be alarmed if you have pinkish breasts and increased warmth of the breast skin.

Shape & Size

  • You will not be able to see your new breast shape right after surgery, especially because of the swelling. As the swelling subsides and your breast skin starts to settle, a more natural, rounded breast shape will begin to develop.
  • As the swelling goes down and healing progresses, your breasts may show a slight decrease in size.


  • After surgery, it is common for one or both nipples to have some numbness. This usually subsides within a couple of weeks to several months.


  • Crusting along the incision lines is to be expected as small amounts of bleeding and drainage is common. We usually treat this with antibiotic ointment.
  • Incisions are usually completely healed in two to six weeks.
  • Full strength to the incisions will return by six months after surgery.


  • Small sensory nerves to the skin surface are occasionally cut when the incision is made or interrupted by undermining of the skin during surgery.
  • The sensation in those areas gradually returns - usually within 2 or 3 months as the nerve endings heal spontaneously.


  • Itching and occasional small shooting electrical sensations within the skin may occur as the nerve endings heal.
  • Skin moisturizers and gentle massages are frequently helpful.
  • These symptoms are common during the recovery period.

Scar Appearance

  • All new scars are red, dark pink, or purple.
  • Scars on the breasts may take a year or longer to fade completely.
  • Some scars may be initially raised and become flat after the wound matures.

Breast Surgery Recovery Concerns

If you experience any of the following problems, please notify us!

  • Fever over 100°F
  • Excessive bleeding accompanied by a noticeable enlargement of one or both breasts or increasing pain
  • Foul odor and drainage
  • Purple, blue or gray nipples that are cold to touch
  • Continuous vomiting
  • Dark urine

Every breast surgery patient needs to develop a new body image. This won’t happen overnight or in a few days. It may take weeks or even months to feel a sense of well-being. This is normal. Right after surgery, you may feel extremely excited and relieved, but before you begin to feel increased self-confidence, you may feel confused or disappointment. Unexpected feeling and fears may arise. These anxieties are normal and will disappear with time.

Dr. Golshani and his team are here to support you throughout your recovery from breast surgery. Please contact us if there is anything we can do to help you.

Have Questions?

Contact us by submitting the form below and one of our team members at Dr. Golshani’s plastic surgery practice will respond and provide answers to your questions.