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The information provided below is not written in stone and should not be considered gospel. These are not the only “correct” recommendations as related to activities and restrictions following FTM and FTN top surgery.

Recommended Guidelines Are Just That

There are a whole range of reasonable and valid recommendations because there are so many variables involved. There are general and individual patient related issues, specific top surgery procedure considerations as well as plastic surgeon preferences and practices.

All of these can affect the short and even the long term outcome.

The recommendations made below are based on my more than 35 years of practice and experience here in Scottsdale and Phoenix.

General Recommendations

Returning to school can be in as little as one to two weeks. Of course, that all depends on how you are feeling, your ability to concentrate and think, academic work load, how much you will be walking between classes and how much weight you have to carry and how you carry it.

If you can attend class from home, you may be ready within a week.

Going back to work will depend on the exact nature of your job. For a very sedentary one where you are literally just sitting at a desk, it may be as short as one to two weeks. For a physically demanding job, like construction, roofing, warehouse stocking or even working at Starbucks, this will be around eight weeks.

We will explore this in more detail below.

Individual Factors

Each person has a unique set of multiple variables that can and will affect their responses to surgery and healing. These can ultimately impact when you can return to school, work or even engage in other activities. Some of these factors include:

Healing Progress

There may be other factors in addition to the ones described above that can affect the healing process following your top surgery. Ultimately, it is your state of healing that will determine your ability and the advisability of you going back to school or work.

Technique Used for Your Top Surgery

The specific technique used in your top surgery may, in certain situations, have a very minor impact as to when you can return to specific physically demanding jobs. This pertains largely to the double incision free nipple graft procedure.

Returning to school is generally not affected.

Nature of Your Job

If your job is largely sedentary where you are not frequently moving your arms or doing relatively light lifting, you may be able to return in as little time as one to two weeks. Of course, it should also not be stressful.

Physically demanding jobs will generally require a lot more time off especially if you want to minimize your risks for complications and maximize the aesthetic outcome – as in narrow, flat, and relatively inconspicuous scars ultimately. Examples are construction, roofing, assembly line technician, plumber, restaurant serving, stocking and warehousing.

Temporary Light Duty Availability

If your job is physically demanding but there truly is temporary light duty available, you may be able to return to work sooner. However, what that light duty entails will determine whether it is a viable course of action or not a prudent alternative.


Base on your personal history and postoperative progress, your plastic surgeon can best determine when it would be most reasonable for you to return to work. Of course, make absolutely sure that they fully understand what your job entails.

Returning to school is generally far more predictable and less reliant on other issues.


Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona


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