What's the recovery time of nipple reconstruction?

How quickly can I go back to normal activities after a nipple reconstruction? Would I be able to go to work the next day? I don't want to mess up any results from the procedure.


F, 53, Utah

Tags:woman age 45-54 nipples recovery quick

Good question, you sound like a person who doesn’t want to miss work if you can help it! I run my own business and was anxious that I’d have to take a lot of time off after my reconstruction surgery. I had flap surgery where the surgeon takes a skin graft and uses it for your nipple reconstruction. The donor site they used was from my other breast and it healed fast. I was able to get back to my business in 3 days. I didn’t have any issues or pain. I was told not to exercise other than to go for walks so that my body would have time to heal.

When I had my nipple reconstruction surgery, I was given local anesthesia (I was still awake). I went home the same day I had the procedure done. They do strongly encourage you to have someone drive you home afterwards. I’m not sure if it’s the law or just a procedure my clinic likes to practice. There are some people who are knocked out for nipple surgery, and in that case, I would guess that they would keep you in the hospital overnight to make sure you come out of the anesthesia okay. If you aren’t put under for the surgery, then it would be my guess that it would be okay to return to work the next day. However, the safest bet is to ask your doctor how long it will take you to get back to your life after the surgery.

When I had nipple reconstruction, I was allowed to go home the same day of my procedure. My plastic surgeon told me that I could return to work the next day, but I chose to take a few days off. From what I have read online, most patients can resume working their desk jobs the day after their reconstruction procedures. But if you have a job that requires you to do heavy lifting or a lot of physical activity, then you will need to take at least two to three weeks off to recover at home. You should also avoid going to the gym for at least two weeks too. Most importantly, remember to protect your nipples, and avoid wearing tight sports bras or getting your wound wet in the shower. Don’t rush to resume your daily activities--return to work when you feel comfortable and ready. Everyone heals differently, but it’s likely that your recovery time will be between six to nine months.

Your recovery time will depend a little on which procedure you use. I was told that recovery would be just an hour or two if I only wanted tattoos, but I decided to go with the more extensive procedure that uses skin flaps to build a new nipple. I definitely wouldn't have been able to go to work the next day. The discomfort wasn't too bad, and I was able to walk around, but I was wrapped in bandages and feeling a bit groggy from the painkillers they gave me. I went back to work four days after my surgery. However, I wasn't allowed to exercise for a month after the surgery because that could've caused issues, so you might have to stay home from work a bit longer if your job is really active.