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Roderick P. Zickler, M. D.


Breast Reduction Surgery

What to Expect At Home


When You Go Home:

Dressings:     Leave the dressing in place.  You certainly can remove it but it will be a major pain in the neck to put it back on correctly.  It will be removed when you go back to the office to get stitches (and drains) out.  A small amount of drainage or soiling is common where the tubes exit under your arms – do not worry about this.  If there is actual blood, pus, or drainage running down your side, of course you should call Dr. Zickler.


Drains:   The drainage tubes usually stay in for about 5 days.  You should empty them daily or whenever they get full.  It’s actually quite easy.


  1. Remove the small “cork”.
  2. Look on the side of the bulb where it is full of air. There are thin lines of small numbers on the plastic.  You can use these to keep track of the amount.  We can take out the tubes whenever the daily total is less than 30 cc per day.
  3. Empty the fluid by turning the bulb upside down and squeezing out the fluid.
  4. Reseal the cork before you release it (or let the air back in). It should stay collapsed (squished up looking) and hold suction without any funny sounds or fluid leaks.


Pain:  There is usually tightness and soreness that improves daily.  You have been prescribed pain medicine – TAKE IT!  DO NOT WAIT FOR THE PAIN TO GET SO BAD YOU CAN’T STAND IT!  Usually by the fifth day or so after surgery you won’t need it anymore.  Severe, sharp pain that doesn’t let up is uncommon; please call Dr. Zickler if this is the case or if the pain gets worse instead of better.  He will probably want to examine you promptly to make sure there is no infection or blood clots.


Restrictions:  While you are wearing your dressing, you can’t get in the shower or you’ll really make a mess.  Wash cloth or bathtub is okay.  Get someone else to help you wash you hair (reaching above your head will be sore and limiting this type of reaching will help your drainage to stop sooner so you can heal faster).


Avoid any unnecessary overhead reaching; this is not a good time to re-line your cabinets!


No driving until you can move your arms without hurting.  It will not hurt your surgery or your healing, but if your arms and chest still hurt your reaction time may be slowed and you put yourself at risk of getting into an accident.


What to Expect in Follow-Up


Follow-Up Appointments:  Dr. Zickler will usually see you in 5 to 7 days after surgery to remove your dressing, take out your drains, and remove your stitches.  This doesn’t hurt, but the drains occasionally pull a little coming out.  Bring a sports type bra with you to this visit to wear home, as dressings usually are not needed after this point.  Pick something with wide shoulder straps, elastic stretch throughout, and NO UNDERWIRES!  Get the same size as your current chest size in Large, i.e., 38 Large if you are currently wearing a 38D, etc.


Back to Work:  You can go back to work almost anytime you feel ready.  This will depend on the type of job you have and how you heal.  Everyone is slightly different.  In general, expect to be sore and stiff for 5 to 7 days.  You will feel “run down” for about two weeks while you get over the surgery.  Most people return to work at about two weeks but many return earlier than this.  People with extremely strenuous jobs that require heavy lifting and getting hit in the chest may require up to six weeks off work.  Usually by 6 weeks you can plan on completely unrestricted activities – contact sports, parachute jump, karate, almost anything you can think of.


Permanent Changes:


Probably some decreased sensations at the nipples (occasionally increased feeling).

Scars will continue to improve for 6 months to a year but there will always be some scarring detectable.


This will affect your ability to breast feed.  Some women may be able to after this surgery but the majority cannot.  Wait to have this surgery until you have decided you’re done with breast feeding.


This does not affect your risk of breast cancer.  You will need all the routine surveillance exams and tests recommended for all women.  Your mammogram may be changed by this procedure, so you may want pre-op and post-op mammograms for future baseline.



Cosmetic Surgery Associates

Bristol Professional Park, Suite 205

350 Blountville Highway

Bristol, Tennessee  37620


(423) 968-2732

Toll Free 1-800-231-3335

Fax (423) 968-7530