How do I prepare for a breast reduction procedure?
Your surgeon will provide thorough preoperative instructions, answer any questions you may have, take a detailed medical history and perform a physical exam to determine your fitness for surgery.
You may be asked to have a mammogram (if you're over forty years of age), electrocardiogram (ECG) or chest x-ray. If your surgeon recommends weight benchmarks or lifestyle changes, do your best to achieve them to ensure the best results and minimize the chance of complications.
In advance of your procedure, your surgeon will ask you to:
- Avoid taking aspirin, certain anti-inflammatory drugs and some herbal medications that can cause increased bleeding.
- Stop smoking at least six weeks before undergoing surgery to promote better healing.
- Regardless of the type of surgery to be performed, hydration is very important before and after surgery for safe recovery and critical outcomes.
- Keep alcohol consumption at less than two to three drinks per week.
- Before surgery, stock your refrigerator with high-protein, low-sodium foods, including premade meals, fresh fruits and vegetables and lots of caffeine-free beverages and water. Avoid food and drink containing salt during your recovery.
- As you heal, your arms will have a limited range of motion, so store all the supplies you'll need during recovery where they're easily accessible (at counter level, not in overhead or very low cabinets).
- Stockpile movies or prerecorded programs and novels and magazines. If possible, have a speaker phone by your bed and a remote control for the TV.
- Establish a no-fail support system for the full recovery period indicated by your surgeon. This is most critical to your recovery. If you have children less than five years of age, you must have someone to take care of them for a week or two. You must not lift, drive or do laundry and cleaning for the first two weeks.
- Rest and sleep on your back continuously in an inclined position (25 to 45 degree angle) for the initial postoperative days or while significant swelling remains. You can achieve elevation with wedge pillows with an incline design or by sleeping in a recliner chair.
- Avoid hot showers, hot tubs and saunas for two to three weeks.
- Decide what you will wear for the first few days; pick items that open in front. Wear slip-on shoes so you don't have to bend.
Breast reduction surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis. Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery and to stay with you at least the first night following surgery.
What can I expect on the day of my procedure?
Your breast reduction surgery may be performed in a hospital, free-standing ambulatory facility or office-based surgical suite. Your surgeon will give you an estimate of how long your surgery will last based on the details of your surgical plan.
- You may be asked to wash your body with antibacterial soap prior to surgery.
- Make sure not to wear cosmetics (including nail polish), lotions, perfumes or other substances.
- Dress in or bring soft, comfortable clothes that you'll be able to wear after the surgery, including a top that opens in the front and shoes that slip on.
- Bring only the essentials (ID, insurance card, cell phone, etc.) and leave other personal belongings such as jewelry at home.
- Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure.
- General anesthesia is commonly used during your breast reduction procedure, although local anesthesia or intravenous sedation may be desirable in some instances.
- For your safety during the surgery, various monitors will be used to check your heart, blood pressure, pulse and the amount of oxygen circulating in your blood.
- Your plastic surgeon will follow the surgical plan discussed with you before surgery. Once the operation has begun, the surgeon may decide to combine various techniques or change a technique to ensure the best result. It is important that you feel comfortable and trust your doctor to make these decisions.
- After your procedure is completed, you will be taken into a recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored.
- Following the surgery a bulky gauze dressing (bandage) will be wrapped around your breasts and chest or you might wear a surgical bra. Drainage tubes may be attached to your breasts.
- Before leaving for home, you (or someone looking after you) should feel capable of emptying and resetting the drains.
You will probably be permitted to go home after a short observation period unless you and your plastic surgeon have made other plans for your immediate postoperative recovery.