Breast reduction surgery is one of my favorite operations because it offers patients such wonderful benefits. First, there is a definite artistic improvement in the shape of the breasts and their balance with the body. Second, there are significant physical benefits that come from the operation. Very often there is a dramatic reduction in physical discomfort and a significant improvement in body mechanics.

The decision to undergo breast reduction surgery is important. In order to help you optimize your surgical experience, I have put together some suggestions for preparation and recovery for breast reduction surgery.

Choose Which Breast Reduction Technique Is Best for You

During your consultation, we will determine which surgical technique is best suited for your breast reduction needs. I use two main techniques for breast reduction: the structural technique and the classical technique.

The structural technique allows me to limit the scars from surgery, replenish volume in the upper portion of the breast, and provide deep anchoring of the breast in its new position.

The classical technique has scars in the typical “anchor” pattern: around the areola, along the fold under the breast, and in the midline between the bottom of the areola and the fold under the breast. I use this technique for very large breasts, breasts with a very firm character, and breasts with a considerable amount of stretching at the lower portion of the breast.

The Sooner You Prepare for Your Breast Reduction, the Better Your Results and the Easier Your Recovery

An active collaboration between the plastic surgeon and patient produces optimum results from breast reduction surgery. My role is to determine the operation that is best suited to your breast structure and your goals and to provide high-quality work. Your role is to prepare your body for the surgery so that the entire process will be seamless.

Exercise Before and After Surgery Enhances the Healing Process and Improves Long Term Results

Exercise can help you to prepare for breast reduction surgery in several ways. Along with good nutrition, exercise improves overall health and can help you to reach a realistic optimum weight. This is especially important for breasts that have a structure that is largely fat. How can you tell if this is the case? If you have noticed that when you lose or gain weight there is a noticeable change in the size of the breasts, your breasts have a significant component of fat. In order to sustain long-lasting results, it is helpful for you to be at a weight that you can maintain over the long term. This allows me to carry out the reduction with precision.

However, sometimes patients who are planning for breast reduction surgery are trapped in a paradox. If the breasts are massively enlarged, the mechanical effects of the breasts make it very difficult to exercise. For these patients, rather than setting an unrealistic goal for weight loss, it may be better to have the breast reduction surgery, which will then enable them to exercise more comfortably after their post-surgical recovery period.

For many years I have noticed that patients who exercise regularly recover quickly and easily from surgery. I also am of the opinion that exercise in the days leading up to surgery supercharges the healing process.

A strong core will help with your breast reduction recovery. Yoga, Pilates, and other core strengthening exercises will help prepare your body for the shift in the center of balance that occurs when the breasts are reduced in size and lifted to a more physiologic position.

Specific exercises to bring the shoulders back into a good position are also important. One of the most aggravating effects of heavy, low-riding breasts is the discomfort that occurs in the neck, upper back, and shoulders. Heavy breasts pull the shoulders forward and strain the upper back and neck. Yoga offers stretching and positioning to open up these areas. Yoga breathing exercises also help to expand the upper ribs and compensate for the restrictions that have been imposed by heavy breasts. It is best to start these exercises before the surgery to free up the upper spine and shoulders from their dysfunctional position and prepare them for their new position after surgery.

After your surgery, we will give you guidance as to when you can resume exercise. In general, you will find that you are much more comfortable with exercise after breast reduction surgery and that you may be able to participate in a wider range of exercise than before.

Focus on Optimum Nutrition for Optimum Healing

Optimum nutrition helps to prepare you for surgery. Try to focus on a healthy diet comprised of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and low in refined carbohydrates and sugar.

A nutritional diet is also beneficial to patients during the recovery period after breast reduction surgery. Foods rich in antioxidants such as berries, pomegranate juice, and colored vegetables help to protect tissue, reduce inflammation, and set the stage for optimum healing.

For patients who need assistance with developing a healthy nutrition plan, you may wish to consult with your general practitioner to refer you to a qualified nutritionist.

Avoid Cigarettes and Medications that Thin the Blood

The risk of problems with healing is significantly increased in cigarette smokers. If you are a smoker we will provide suggestions as to methods to quit smoking in advance of your surgery.

Many of our patients have used the surgery as a fulcrum point to leverage a permanent elimination of cigarettes from their lives. Most of us are procrastinators by nature. It is very easy to say, “I’ll quit smoking next week,” and then when next week arrives the date for smoking cessation is shifted to the following week. This process can go on for years. The certainty of a date for a surgery that you very much desire and the knowledge that your surgery will be canceled if you continue smoking will motivate you to throw away your cigarettes.

With breast reduction surgery it is very important for you to eliminate all medications that thin the blood for two weeks before surgery. Aspirin and aspirin derivatives as well as all NSAIDs such as Advil and Aleve cannot be consumed during the two-week period. If you have arthritis or other types of chronic pain we can provide suggestions of medications that you can take to replace your usual pain relievers during the period before and after surgery. Vitamin E in larger doses, fish oil, and all omega 3 supplements must be avoided as well.

You Will Need Medical Preparation Before Your Breast Reduction Surgery

Your age and medical history will determine whether we will request blood tests or an EKG before your surgery. It is important for you to be up-to-date with your mammograms. We may also request that you visit your primary care doctor for medical clearance. It is wise to schedule mammograms and doctor visits well in advance of your surgery since there are sometimes long lead times for these appointments. Also if any follow-up is required from a finding on your doctor visit or your mammogram, there will be sufficient time to resolve this before your surgery.

Choosing the Right Time for Your Surgery Is an Important Part of Preparation and Recovery

It is best to schedule your breast reduction surgery during a time when your personal, social, and business schedules are lightest. You will need time to rest and recover. Blocking out your schedule for this period of recovery will allow you to do so with a relaxed state of mind. The calmer you are going into your surgery, the better will be your recovery.

If you are planning to travel within a few weeks following your surgery, please review the dates with us so that we can be sure that the time frame will not interfere with your recovery period.

Enhance Your Long-Term Health and Well-Being

The field of plastic surgery is often trivialized in the media, but the truth is it often contributes in significant ways to a person’s health and well-being. This is particularly true of breast reduction surgery.

The simple mechanical improvements that come from smaller lifted breasts include improved posture, breathing, and balance. Exercise can change from being unpleasant to being a pleasure. The enhanced artistic balance of the body sets up a positive feedback cycle.

The period of time during your surgery and recovery can offer patients the opportunity to reset certain habits on a permanent basis. A significant percentage of our breast reduction patients use the surgery and recovery period to make changes in their patterns of nutrition and exercise that extend lifelong benefits.

Our Team Will Assist You in Preparation for Your Surgery

Our team has extensive experience with breast reduction surgery and is well-equipped to optimize your preparation and recovery. Just as we strive for individualized results in the operating room, we are committed to attentive and personalized service during the periods before and after surgery.

Schedule a Breast Reduction Consultation with Dr. John Q. Cook

If you’d like to learn more about breast reduction surgery and if it’s right for you call 312-751-2112 to schedule a consultation with Dr. John Q. Cook at either our Chicago or Winnetka office.