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How to Sleep Better After Breast Surgery

breast surgery recovery

After any traumatic event–and that includes any type of surgery, no matter how non-invasive the surgery is and how well the surgery went–you’re going to have trouble sleeping. This is totally natural. Not only have you had physical stress, which wears out your body even if you might not think that you’re doing any physical exertion. Surgery can really take a toll on your body and you will need time to recover–and that means taking it easy.

But more than that, being under anesthesia can really mess with your internal clock. If you’re under general anesthetic for any amount of time, your body’s clock is going to be thrown out of rhythm. It will be harder to sleep that night (or you may be exhausted and sleep all day, and then be up all night.) It’s hard to say exactly what will happen as you wake up from anesthesia as everyone responds to it a little differently. But the point is that it’s going to stress your body and changes are going to happen to your sleep patterns–at least in the short term.

Finally, after breast surgery, whether you’ve had breast augmentation or breast reduction or lumpectomy, there’s going to be discomfort and pain and you’re going to need to deal with that–it’s not going to be easy, at least not for the first few days. Working to get better from the surgery is going to take some time, but all of your daily activities are going to feel sensitive and tender, and you will likely have to change the way you sleep.

Why is Sleep So Important After Breast Surgery?

Sleeping does more than just simply making you less tired. When you’re sleeping your body is healing itself and rejuvenating. Sleep is the best time for your body to repair and heal from any malady be it breast surgery or the common cold. Sleep is always a great remedy to helping you get back to normal, on your feet, and able to overcome your surgical challenges.

When you sleep, your blood flows more efficiently, which aids in the healing of tissue and muscle, and inflammation is reduced. Sleep after breast surgery isn’t a cure-all, but it is absolutely a very important thing that you can do to get back to your regular life.

It’s Normal to Have Trouble Sleeping After Breast Surgery

It’s not unexpected to have trouble sleeping after breast surgery, and not just because there is pain and discomfort at the surgical site, but finding a comfortable sleeping position after breast surgery is going to be a difficult thing to deal with.

Stress After Breast Surgery 

There is always stress after any surgery, and breast surgery is no different. In fact, there is even more stress associated with breast surgery because so much of breast surgery is wrapped up into your vision of yourself, of the person who you will be–who you will appear as–after the breast surgery. Stress from breast surgery is often psychological stress because it’s about body image, no matter the ultimate reason for the surgery. 

Although it may not seem like it when you’re so tired after surgery, in the day and days after breast surgery you may lie awake at night wondering how you are going to look, how you are going to be perceived by others, whether you made the right decision, and whether you will be treated differently by others. It may even be useful to have the help of a therapist as you go through the breast transformation surgery–and your plastic surgeon will be able to help you find someone who can help you cope with this major change in your life. 

Remember Physical Activity to Lead to Sleep

While we all know that we should take it easy following surgery, it’s important to make sure that the blood stays flowing to aid with healing, and that comes from physical exercise. Now, don’t think that the day after breast surgery you should be doing pushups, but in the coming days light exercise such as taking the dog for a walk or doing some mild and meditative yoga will help you heal–and will also help you sleep following your breast surgery. 

What Are the Best Sleeping Positions After Breast Surgery?

Perhaps the most common question that plastic surgeons get asked after breast surgery is how you’re supposed to sleep. Sleeping can be very uncomfortable depending on what you’re used to. Here are the two best ways to sleep after breast surgery.

Sleeping On Your Back With Your Upper Body Elevated

Ideally, you will first want to sleep on your back with your upper body elevated. On the first day after surgery, sleeping in a recliner might be best, where you’re fully supported in a sitting-up position but leaning back enough to relax. If this is unavailable, then propping yourself up in bed with a collection of blankets to support your upper body, your arms, and your lower back. Of course, you will want this position to be as comfortable as possible, so if it’s driving you so crazy that you can’t sleep at all, then you know you need to try something else, but the benefit is that this will not put any pressure on your breasts.

Sleeping On Your Side

If none of that works, then sleeping on your side is a good alternative (though you should try the other first). After breast surgery, sleeping is so important that getting good sleep is better than trying and failing to get great sleep. However, even on your side you should use pillows under your arms and gently pressed against your breasts to make sure that no pressure is applied to them while you sleep.

And make sure you don’t roil onto your stomach! (If you do, the pain will probably wake you up anyway.)


Getting sleep after breast surgery is important and you need to do the things that will help you to get this sleep, including light exercise, trying to keep a sleep schedule, and working with a therapist to calm your worries about body image issues. Sleeping on your back with your upper body elevated is the best option, but sleeping on your side can do as well.

Schedule your Kansas City plastic surgery consultation today

When you commit to your beauty journey, you are choosing to take how the world sees you into your own hands. That’s an empowering feeling. Dr. Quinn and his team at Quinn Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Center are here to honor that commitment and help you achieve the best results for you and your body. These are your decisions. Our role is to help you make the most of them. Schedule a consultation today to get started on your beauty journey.

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