After Surgery

It’s helpful to remind yourself that there will be some normal ups and downs after surgery.

VERY IMPORTANT: If you have excessive bleeding or pain, call Dr. Mosser or Dr. Facque at (415) 780-1515. You can reach them day or night by calling the normal office line.

YOUR FIRST 24 HOURS: If you are going home, a family member or friend must drive you because you have been sedated. Someone should stay overnight with you. If you choose to go to a postoperative center, they will provide transportation. If you have any questions, please ask one of our nursing staff.

DRESSINGS: Keep your dressings as clean and dry as possible. Don’t remove them unless instructed to do so.

ACTIVITY: Take it easy and pamper yourself. Try to avoid any straining. You may go to the bathroom, sit and watch TV, etc., but NO MATTER HOW GOOD YOU FEEL, DO NOT CLEAN THE HOUSE, REARRANGE THE ATTIC, ETC.! We do not want you to bleed and cause any more swelling and bruising than is unavoidable.

ICE PACKS: Cold or ice packs help to reduce swelling, bruising, and pain. Use frozen peas in the package or crush ice cubes and put the ice into a zip-lock bag. This should help, not hurt. If the ice feels uncomfortable, don’t use it as often. Before placing against the skin, put a cloth between your skin and the ice. Also, check the temperature on the back of your hand before placing it on the area you were operated on; sometimes you can inadvertently hurt your skin if you don’t check the temperature before placing it on the affected area.

SHOWERING: Do not shower until after the first visit with Dr. Mosser or Dr. Facque. They will take down your dressing, inspect the surgical area, and give you the go ahead to begin showering. Until that time, sponge bathe to keep clean. If you had a body or breast procedure, you may visit a hair salon to have your hair washed if you’d like.

DIET: If you have any postoperative nausea, carbonated sodas and dry crackers may settle the stomach. If nausea is severe, use the suppository. If you feel good, start with liquids and bland foods, and if those are well tolerated, progress to a regular diet. It is important that you avoid salt (sodium) during your recovery. Salt will increase your swelling and may prolong your recovery. Click here for a list of low-sodium meal choices.

SMOKING: Smoking reduces capillary flow in your skin. We advise you not to smoke at all during the first 21 days after surgery.

ALCOHOL: Alcohol dilates the blood vessels and could increase postoperative bleeding. Don’t drink until you have stopped taking prescription pain pills, the combination of pain pills and alcohol can be dangerous. Wait at least one week to drink alcohol after surgery.

DRIVING:  This question has a few different aspects to it and ultimately, it is the patient who decides when the time is right, rather than our office. The only absolute requirement to return to driving, is that a patient has not taken pain medication within 12 hours of driving. After a patient is no longer under the influence of narcotics, a patient must evaluate for themselves if they believe they have all the necessary faculties to safely drive. These would include ability to completely rotate the neck and perform evasive maneuvers as needed, without hesitation. In this sense, once a patient feels comfortable to perform all the necessary aspects and duties of driving, they may consider doing so. For many individuals this occurs at approximately 10-14 days after surgery, although for some, depending on the nature of their operation and recovery, it may occur later.

After Top Surgery; Practical Daily Milestones

7 days after top surgery

Maintain a low salt diet

  • Eat fresh fruits, veggies, and clean protein
  • If you’re eating boxed, canned or packaged food, ensure it has low sodium percentages

Take it easy

  • Rest up, take this time to reflect on all the moments that have led to this one!

Be up and move around

  • As long as you’re not getting your heart rate up too much moving around is good for you physical and emotional well being

Emptying and recording your drain output (if you got drains)

  • It’s important to keep a detailed record of your drain output with the log either Vista or St. Francis hospital has given you

Going to your post-op appointment on the 6th or 7th day after surgery

  • This day’s particularly exciting, as you get to see your results! Leave yourself plenty of time to get to your appointment to eliminate stress around such a special occasion. At this appointment, you’ll receive your post-op care instructions, see your results, and get your photos taken

 8-14 days after surgery

You can take a shower

  • You’re able to shower now that all of your bandages have been removed and you’ve received the proper after care instructions
  • When you do shower, let the water and soap run over your nipples. Do not directly apply soap or scrub your nipples manually
  • Be sure to ‘pat dry’ once you’re out of the shower

Continue to follow the dressings instructions you have been given for your nipple areas

  • No other dressings instructions are needed on other incisions except for your nipples


  • You’re able to go on long walks as long as they are at a ‘strolling pace’

15-21 days after surgery

Nipple cleanliness

  • You can begin soaping the nipple areas gently with every shower to promote cleanliness and healing

Begin using band-aids on nipples

  • Starting on day 15, begin applying areola sized band-aids daily to the nipples until day 21
  • After day 21, no bandages on the nipples at all


  • You can go on long walks as long as they are at a slow strolling pace

22-42 days after surgery

Cardio begins

  • At day 22 it’s acceptable to do cardio such as running, cycling, and elliptical.

Still can’t raise elbow up to or over shoulders if you’ve had

Avoid stretching the chest

  • Moving and stretching excessively can cause widening of the scars
  • Avoid stretching your chest dramatically
  • Or twisting and turning in a way that may ‘pull’ on your incision lines

43 days- 2-3 months after surgery

Back to normal life!

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