Time Off from Work after FTM and FTN Surgery

FTM/N chest surgery is a life-changing procedure that requires careful planning and consideration in advance. Because FTM/N chest reconstruction is a major surgical procedure, you will need to take time off from work and other normal routines to rest and recuperate. Most patients feel up to resuming sedentary work and light physical activity within 7 to 9 days.


Any physical activity that may cause your heart rate to increase or for you break out in a sweat should be avoided for at least three weeks. Heavy lifting and chest exercises should be avoided for at least 5 to 6 weeks.



Generally speaking, your employer is required to grant you an adequate amount of time off for both surgery and recovery. Our team will provide you with a doctor’s note regarding your activity restrictions. The note will not include any information regarding the nature of your procedure. Your employer is not required to know what type of procedure you have undergone.



FTM/N chest reconstruction recovery is tolerated well by most patients. When you wake up from surgery, it’s normal to experience some discomfort, swelling and bruising. Your chest will be wrapped in gauze dressings and a compression vest for support.


You will need to take medication during your recovery. We will provide you with oral pain medication to help you manage your discomfort. You will also have already gotten a dose of antibiotics during surgery, which will decrease your risk of a post-surgical infection.


You will be required to wear a special surgical bra and/or a compression vest for a few weeks to minimize swelling and to help the skin tighten. Depending on the amount of tissue removed, your surgeon might also place temporary surgical drains in your incisions, or the side of your chest to collect excess fluid build-up.

Most patients are able to return home, or to a recovery center the same day as their surgery. You will need the help of a friend or family member during the first few days of your recovery. A home care nurse may also be necessary for the first three days to monitor your progress, check your dressings and empty the drain reservoirs if you happen to have drains in place (this is highly unlikely).


Your mobility will be limited for the first several days, but it is recommended that you start walking as soon as possible. Normal showering will be restricted until the dressings over your incisions and drains (if you have them) are removed. This usually happens within 3 to 7 days.



Though complications are uncommon, all surgeries carry a degree of risk and uncertainty. It is possible that you will experience a complication during recovery which will necessitate more time off from work and other daily routines. Complications associated with FTM/N chest reconstruction include adverse reaction to anesthesia, blood clots, infection, excess fluid build-up in your chest, pain, bleeding and undesirable cosmetic outcome.


You will be given instructions for multiple ways to reach our team directly after surgery.  It is normal for your chest to be red and sore after FTM/N chest surgery.  However if the redness extends 1-2 cm beyond the incision line, or if your skin is very warm or tender or you have a fever measured with a thermometer, you should contact us as soon as possible as infection is extremely rare, but these can be signs of an infection.

If at any time during your recovery you feel a sudden shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, or tender, swollen legs, you should get emergency help. These may be signs of a medical emergency.



This information is available in multiple sections on this website, but it probably belongs here too: after surgery, please do not lift more more than 5 pounds.  At 3 weeks (21 days) after surgery you can lift up to 20 lbs and can do cardio exercise like running / cycling / elliptical training.  At 42 days / 6 weeks there is no weight limit limitation.  But if your procedure includes a horizontal incision across each side of the chest (double incision, buttonhole, inverted T, fish mouth), then you should avoid elbow-over-shoulder arm positions for up to 6 months after surgery, because this can put a vertical strain on the scars and make them thicker or much wider.  You can do the vast majority of things in your life without putting your arms above your shoulders, except putting things on high shelves or doing certain sports / physical fitness activities.



Do you still have questions? Schedule an in-person or virtual consultation for FTM/N chest surgery. During your consultation, you will have the opportunity to discuss the procedure in-depth and experience our 3D Before and After scan technology.