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Advice CentreBreast SurgeryBreast Lift

What is breast lift pain like? – Everything about recovery pain and scars

Published by Elena Prousskaia Elena Prousskaia
Woman with beautiful breast on pink background
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A breast lift can be life-changing for women struggling with sagging breasts. However, so many put off the surgery due to misconceptions about the pain during breast lift recovery and the idea that they will always ‘look like they had plastic surgery’.

While no breast lift surgeon can completely eliminate pain and scarring, it might be more manageable than you think. Discover the pain expectations after breast lift surgery and understand some common misconceptions about breast lift recovery. Learn about breast lift scarring and how to encourage a fast healing process and a beautiful result.

What is the pain like after a breast lift?

Our patients report mild to moderate pain throughout their breast lift recovery. After your plastic surgery, pain should be mild due to the after-effects of general anaesthetic. Once it wears off our nurses can provide liquid morphine to ease your discomfort.

When you leave the clinic, you’ll have some prescription pain medication to last a few days. After this, your pain should be manageable with over-the-counter medication such as paracetamol. Mild to moderate pain lasts a couple of weeks, during this time you’ll have swollen and bruised breasts with soreness at the incision sites. The pain should ease with time.

By 3-4 weeks, your pain should become a mild discomfort, you might have some residual swelling, itching, irritation and redness at your incision sites for several more weeks to months.


Pain Scale

Pain Level

1 3-7 Moderate
2 3-5 Mild-Moderate
3 2-3 Mild
4 1-2 Mild

How long does breast lift pain last?

Breast lift surgery pain usually lasts up to 4 weeks. However, you may be able to stop taking painkillers earlier than this. Moderate pain usually only lasts 1-2 weeks with the initial breast lift recovery period being the most challenging. Read our week-by-week timeline for breast lift recovery

If you have severe pain, excessive swelling, aggressive redness or fever, contact your plastic surgeon in case of a breast lift complication.

Which days are the most painful after a breast lift?

Days 2-4 might be more uncomfortable than others, However, you will have prescription pain medication to manage the discomfort. Patients sometimes report moderate pain during the night and in the morning. Also, allow yourself time to adjust to medication changes.

Misconception: Drain removal is painful

Many patients raise concerns about drain removal pain. You’ll have the drains taken out several hours after surgery, once the initial fluid build-up and swelling subsides. The after-effects of general anaesthetic or morphine should make you more comfortable. If done properly, drain removal should not be painful. We ensure all our patients have manageable pain levels during their stay with us.

Surgical drains help prevent excessive swelling and fluid build-up but not all patients will need them. Discuss your options with the consultant plastic surgeon if you’re worried about surgical drains.

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I had the anchor shape incisions and now (2 years post op) it is impossible to see the scars underneath my boobs or the vertical ones. They have faded completely without any extra post-surgery care or effort

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How to manage pain after a breast lift

Your plastic surgeon prescribes pain medication such as co-codamol to last several days once you leave the clinic. These make the initial recovery period more comfortable. After this, you should be able to manage your pain with over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol.

What do breast lift surgery scars look like?

Anchor breast lifts (the most common type) will leave a scar around the areola, down to and along the breast crease – an anchor shape.

Once healed, the breast lift scar tissue will be nearly invisible. The edge of the areola conceals the round block scar and the breast crease hides the under-breast scar. The vertical scar usually becomes invisible over time too – easily hidden under a bra or bikini. The surgery technique and your biological response to the procedure will determine the final appearance of your scars.

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How long do breast lift scars take to flatten?

It will take around four to six weeks for your wounds to fully heal but you may have sensitive, itchy and red scars for several weeks or months. It can take several months to a year for the scar tissue to fully flatten but the scars will become more invisible over time. Two years after the procedure, you may not even notice any signs of cosmetic surgery.

Improve the appearance of plastic surgery scars

The best advice for breast lift recovery is to apply silicone scar gel after your wounds heal – 4-6 weeks. You should apply this to clean, dry skin and only apply an oil, balm or cream once the gel has fully dried and absorbed into the skin.

Some balms, oils or creams can help to encourage healthy collagen production. However, the best way to promote wound healing and healthy scar tissue growth is a healthy diet and lifestyle. Choose nutritious foods and prioritise protein (the building blocks for collagen and skin repair). Avoid smoking and excessive drinking during the initial recovery process.

Scar healing by month


Recovery Stage


1 Incision sites healing Keep wounds clean and dry – avoid products
2 Incision sites healed but irritable – red and raised scar Apply silicone gel daily once your wounds are fully healed. DO NOT APPLY TO BROKEN SKIN
3-4 Breast lift scars will start to flatten but may remain red. Apply silicone gel daily.
5-7 Breast lift scars become pale Continue applying silicone scar gel depending on the appearance of your scars
8-12 Breast lift scars become white and flat There is little benefit to applying scar-healing products after this stage
24+ Breast lift scars will be nearly invisible There is little benefit to applying scar-healing products after this stage

Sensation changes after a breast lift?

After a mastopexy, patients may have numbness in the nipples, areolae and breast skin but sensation should return after six weeks. A considerable breast revision such as a breast reduction, could increase the risk of breast sensation changes. Breast augmentations may also distort your nerves causing sensation changes.

It can be disconcerting to lose sensation in the breasts but in most cases, it returns after six weeks, when the breast tissue settles into its new shape. It is possible to permanently lose some sensation. We always make patients aware of the risks before going ahead with the procedure.

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