• 30 July 2021
  • Dr Masood Ansari

A breast reduction can improve your self-image and provide the lifestyle you want. For instance, you may finally exercise without worrying about breast pain or wear a bathing suit without feeling self-conscious. To support your recovery, we at My Cosmetic Clinic in New Castle, Crows Nest, Erina, Newcastle, Nowra, Sydney, Rosebery, and Wollongong will recommend a series of steps to follow at home – including the need to sleep on your back.

How Long Do I Need To Sleep on My Back After Breast Reduction?

Sleeping on your side or stomach too soon after breast surgery – including breast reduction – can strain fresh incisions and force scars still in the process of healing to bleed or stretch. The excess pressure may also cause swelling and discomfort that can interfere with sleep. It’s important you get the rest you need after surgery as this is when your body recovers.

Simply put, sleeping on your back keeps your breasts in an optimal position for healing. We therefore recommend you keep this position for eight to 12 weeks post-surgery. Some online sources suggest four to six weeks are enough, but you will continue healing beyond this short window of time. To keep pace with that process, you should continue sleeping on your back for no less than eight weeks.

Additional Benefits

Before you groan in dismay at this recommendation, we want to assure you back sleeping has other benefits as well. For example, it allows your skin to absorb beneficial products applied just before bedtime. This means your nighttime moisturizer may sink deeper into tissues and produce more visible results. Sleeping face-up may also:

  • Prevent sleep-related facial wrinkles
  • Reduce facial breakouts
  • Minimize under-eye puffiness


You Can Train Yourself

Studies confirm most people prefer to sleep on their sides, and some even find lying on their stomachs to be the most comfortable position. But with a little practice and preparation, you can train yourself to become a back sleeper by the time your procedure date arrives.

Side and stomach sleepers often miss the feeling of a pillow against their faces when sleeping on their backs. This can be easily fixed by placing a smaller pillow over one cheek and eye. Or push it against the side of your head for additional support. You’ll also need to pay attention to arm placement after surgery; throwing them over your head likely will not be an option. It can be helpful to place one pillow under each arm to hug or cradle.

Create a Nighttime Routine To Support Back-Sleeping Comfort

Changing your sleep position directly impacts how your muscles, organs, and bones are situated at night. With this in mind, you might want to engage in a few gentle stretches before bedtime. Loosening tight hips and hamstrings can reduce back pain. Yoga can likewise help you relax and fall into a quick slumber as soon as you lie down.

A short stack of pillows under bent knees may make back sleeping more comfortable. Also, avoid eating a large meal right before bed. This is a great habit to establish anyway, but sleeping with heavy food in your stomach can increase nighttime indigestion and heartburn.

Choose the Right Mattress and Pillows

A firm or medium-firm mattress offers more support for back sleeping than a softer mattress. Firmer mattresses distribute weight more evenly to prevent pressure points on parts like the shoulders and hips. A mattress topper can help firm your current bed if you’re not ready to invest in a new mattress.

Having the right pillow is just as important as the right mattress. You need one that supports your head and neck while lying on your back. A shaped pillow may keep shoulders relaxed and supported. Another option is an adjustable fill pillow that allows you to dial into your exact comfort level.

Build a Throne of Pillows

Many patients fall asleep on their backs only to wake on their sides or bellies. Creating a thrown of pillows can prevent you from rolling over in the middle of the night. Plan on needing around five pillows:

  • One under your knees
  • Two under your head and shoulders
  • One on either side of your body

This is simply a starting point. If you find you need more pillows than this, feel free to use them. And practice sleeping on this new throne for at least a week before your breast reduction surgery. Learning to lie on your back won’t happen overnight. Starting this new habit now will ensure your post-surgery recovery goes as smoothly as possible.

Prevent Other Sleeping Positions

Your pillow throne should help you stay on your back throughout the night. But if you keep trying this method to no avail, you might want to put tennis balls inside your pyjama bottom pockets. This will create discomfort when you roll onto your side, prompting you to return to your back. Or, as mentioned earlier, use more pillows to further surround your body.

Prepare for This New Journey

You’re about to embark on an exciting journey with breast surgery. It’s true you’ll need to adopt some new habits, like sleeping on your back, to support healing. But this is a small sacrifice for rewards that include increased confidence, the body shape you want, and better-fitting clothes. Learn more about our expertise in breast procedures by contacting My Cosmetic Clinic at any of our NSW locations: Newcastle, Crows Nest, Erina, Newcastle, Nowra, Sydney, Rosebery, and Wollongong.

Dr Masood Ansari
About The Author

Dr Masood Ansari

Dr Ansari has undergone nine years of extensive surgical training around the globe. He received his initial surgical training under the auspices of the National Health Services (NHS) in the United Kingdom and obtained Membership in the Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh) in 2006. Due to his particularly keen interest in surgical research, Dr Ansari has been involved in multiple academic research projects and was awarded a Masters (MSc) in Advanced Surgical Practice from Cardiff University in the United Kingdom.

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