Time Off From Work after FTM and FTN Surgery

FTM/N chest surgery is a life-changing procedure that requires careful planning and consideration in advance. Because FTM/N chest reconstruction is a major surgical procedure, you will need to take time off from work and other normal routines to rest and recuperate. Most patients feel up to resuming sedentary work and light physical activity within 7 to 9 days.

Any physical activity that may cause your heart rate to increase or for you break out in a sweat should be avoided for at least three weeks. Heavy lifting and chest exercises should be avoided for at least 5 to 6 weeks.

Organizing Time Off With Your Employer

Generally speaking, your employer is required to grant you an adequate amount of time off for both surgery and recovery. Your surgeon will provide you with a doctor’s note regarding your activity restrictions. The note will not include any information regarding the nature of your procedure. Your employer is not required to know what type of procedure you have undergone.

What Happens During the First Stage of Recovery?

FTM/N chest reconstruction recovery is tolerated well by most patients. When you wake up from surgery, it’s normal to experience some discomfort, swelling and bruising. Your chest will be wrapped in gauze dressings and a compression vest for support.

You will need to take medication during your recovery. Your surgeon will provide you with oral pain medication to help you manage your discomfort. You will also have already gotten a dose of antibiotics during surgery, which will decrease your risk of a post-surgical infection.

You will be required to wear a special  compression vest for a few weeks to minimize swelling and to help the skin tighten. Depending on the amount of tissue removed, Dr. Mosser and Dr. Facque usually also place temporary surgical drains in your incisions, or the side of your chest to collect excess fluid build-up.

Most patients are able to return home, or to a recovery center the same day as their surgery. You will need the help of a friend or family member during the first few days of your recovery. A home care nurse may also be necessary for the first three days to monitor your progress, check your dressings and empty the drain reservoirs if you happen to have drains in place (most of our patients will have drains).

Your mobility will be limited for the first several days, but it is recommended that you start walking as soon as possible. Normal showering will be restricted until the dressings over your incisions and drains (if you have them) are removed. This usually happens within 3 to 7 days, after your first post-op appointment.

Risks and Possible Complications

Though complications are uncommon, all surgeries carry a degree of risk and uncertainty. It is possible that you will experience a complication during recovery which will necessitate more time off from work and other daily routines. Complications associated with FTM/N chest reconstruction include adverse reaction to anesthesia, blood clots, infection, excess fluid build-up in your chest, pain, bleeding and undesirable cosmetic outcome.

You will be given instructions for multiple ways to reach Dr. Mosser or Dr. Facque directly after surgery.  It is normal for your chest to be red and sore after FTM/N chest surgery.  However if the redness extends 1-2 cm beyond the incision line, or if your skin is very warm or tender or you have a fever measured with a thermometer, you should contact your surgeon. Infections are extremely rare, but these can be signs of one.

If at any time during your recovery you feel a sudden shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, or tender, swollen legs, you should get emergency help (dial 911 right away). These may be signs of a medical emergency.

Recovery Milestones

This information is available in multiple sections on this website, but it probably belongs here too: after surgery, please do not lift more more than 5 pounds.  At 3 weeks (21 days) after surgery you can lift up to 20 lbs and can do cardio exercise like running / cycling / elliptical training.  At 42 days / 6 weeks there is no weight limit limitation.  But if your procedure includes a horizontal incision across each side of the chest (double incision, buttonhole, inverted T, fish mouth), then you should avoid elbow-over-shoulder arm positions for up to 2-3 months after surgery, because this can put a vertical strain on the scars and make them thicker or much wider. Please read our page regarding the 2-3 months elbow mobility milestone for updated information. You can do the vast majority of things in your life without putting your arms above your shoulders, except putting things on high shelves or doing certain sports / physical fitness activities.

Learn More about FTM/N Chest Reconstruction Recovery

Do you still have questions? Schedule an in-person or virtual consultation for FTM/N chest surgery with one of our board certified plastic surgeons, either Dr. Scott Mosser or Dr. Alexander Facque. During your consultation, you will have the opportunity to discuss the procedure in-depth and view our gallery of before and after photos. Contact our offices today at 415-780-1515.