How to sleep comfortably after breast surgery

16 April 2021

Close up of woman's face sleeping on a pillowBy plastic surgeon Dr Dirk Kremer

How you go about getting a comfortable night sleep is something that is overlooked by many women who undergo breast surgery, be it breast augmentation, a breast lift or a breast reduction. It’s usually when a patient has undergone breast surgery and then returns home to heal and recover that they realise many tough nights of difficult rest is likely to be on the cards. If you’re someone who typically sleeps on your back then you’re at least somewhat in luck as anyone who undergoes breast surgery will have to do just that for the first couple of months following their procedure.

Why is it important to sleep on your back following breast surgery?

It’s important to make sure you sleep on your back in the months after breast surgery to ensure that your body has every chance of healing as optimally as possible. It takes some time for the natural scar tissue to completely form around the surgical area, which means the shape and position of your implants (if implants were involved in your surgery) are vulnerable to external forces during this time.

Even breast surgery that doesn’t include implants should still see a patient sleeping on their back during the early-to-mid stages of recovery, as sleeping on the front or side can put strain on fresh incisions, which could lead to bleeding or unwanted stretching of the healing scars. Excess pressure on the breast area during recovery can also increase swelling and discomfort, which all leads to a lengthier recovery time - something I’m certain all patients would rather avoid.

Besides placing your breasts into the best possible position for optimal healing, sleeping on your back also has other benefits which means it could be worthwhile trying it out even if your breast procedure is several months away. Sleeping on your back with your face-up allows your skin to better absorb products that you apply as part of your bedtime routine, can help reduce sleep-related facial wrinkles and under-eye puffiness when you wake, as well as help you avoid facial breakouts by allowing your skin to breath better and ensuring it doesn’t come into contact with bacteria on pillowcases as much.

Can you train yourself to sleep on your back?

Natural back sleepers needn’t worry about this one! But for those who usually sleep on their stomach or side, here are four tips to help you practice and get used to sleeping on your back:

  1. Side and stomach sleepers often miss the physical sensation of having a pillow against their cheek, so try using a smaller, heavier pillow that you can push against your head for extra support while getting used to laying on your back. Placing a pillow underneath each arm can also help patients who find it a struggle figuring out what to do with them.

  2. For those who suffer with niggling back issues, try incorporating some light yoga or following a stretching routine before bed to help loosen tight hips and hamstrings - two common culprits of lower back pain. This is also useful to do first thing when you wake up to gently prepare your muscles and joints for the day ahead.

  3. Avoid eating a large meal within just an hour or two of going to bed. A full stomach tends to cause some discomfort when you lay on your back, increasing the risk of suffering heartburn and indigestion.

  4. Figure out which type of mattress and pillows work the best for you. Most back sleepers typically prefer a medium to firm mattress, but try a few out and see how you get on with a variety of different options. A mattress topper is also something you could consider if you feel your current mattress is too soft for back sleeping or if you’d rather not spend on a brand new mattress. The same goes for pillows - you could consider investing in a head cradle pillow or an adjustable fill pillow to ensure your head and shoulders remain relaxed and well supported.

Would you like to learn more about a specific breast surgery including my range of signature TBT procedures, or discuss any of the other cosmetic surgeries and non-invasive procedures that I perform here at Harley Street Aesthetics? If so, don’t hesitate to get in touch so that we can book in your initial consultation. Call 0845 519 7232, e-mail or complete the online contact form.


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