When women research breast augmentation, a big concern is their post-surgery recovery. Questions concerning duration and discomfort levels are high on their list. However, patients should be aware of all aspects of recovery to ensure a successful breast augmentation outcome.
Recovery from surgery will differ from one patient to another. Each patient has different responses in their body’s ability to heal and their individual pain tolerance. Also, implant placement, size of the implant, type of implant, and surgical technique will impact the recovery process. We want to help you understand what to expect during breast augmentation recovery with a few tips on making your recovery shorter and easier.
Recovery Restrictions and Milestones
Here is a recovery time-table estimate which provides a basic overview of what to expect during recovery. Initially, sleeping should be done on your back, not on your side or stomach. You should wear support or surgical garments until instructed otherwise. Remember, all recoveries are different and may vary.
- Two to Three Days After Surgery: Most of our patients experience mild to moderate discomfort that can be managed with pain medication. Bruising and swelling are normal. You will be fitted with compression bandages and a surgical bra for support, wound protection, and to minimize pain. Some patients may experience nausea from the anesthesia used during surgery, but it will pass relatively soon. You may take showers after two days.
- One Week After Surgery: Most patients can return to work and perform minimal physical activities. Strenuous movements like lifting, bending, and other heavy activity is restricted. You will return to our office for your first follow-up visit to remove sutures and an examination of incisions and implant placement.
- Two Weeks After Surgery: You should begin feeling normal and return to daily activities without much discomfort; however, strenuous activity and exercise are still restricted. At this time you may start taking baths again.
- One Month After Surgery: Most of our patients can begin normal exercise (although they should avoid workouts which target the chest area).
Managing Pain and Discomfort
There will be some level of pain after breast enhancement with more discomfort typically present in the first few days. Surgical technique and the patient’s tolerance for pain will determine the severity of discomfort during recovery.
Some women feel little to no pain while others need prescription medication to manage their discomfort. When implant placement is below the muscle, recovery may include more time and discomfort in comparison to procedures that place the implant above the muscle.
Breast Implant Settling
Right after the procedure, it’s normal for breast implants to sit high and feel hard, and at times the nipples point downward. Eventually, the breast implants will start to become softer and settle down to a more desirable position. On average, it takes 3 months for the breast implants to settle, but may be later or sooner, depending on the individual.
Proper incision placement and a skilled surgeon can minimize the visibility of scarring. Incision placements range from the natural breast fold to the areola (dark pigment around the nipple) location, or the armpit crease.
Dr. Waltzman will provide effective incision care protocols combining silicone gel (or tape) with medical-grade topical agents to maximize healing and minimize scar visibility.
Other Concerns You May Encounter
- Chest Pressure or Tightness: When implant placement is under the muscle, you may experience chest pressure or tightness. Your pectoral muscles now have implants below them, and they need to stretch and shape over these implants. When these muscles stretch completely, the tightness will eventually subside in about two weeks. Some patients describe this experience as like a weight on your chest.
- Engorgement: If you have experienced childbirth, you know how engorgement feels. It is the feeling of your breasts swelling because of too much milk. They become tender, warm, and at times, painful. This feeling usually subsides after one week.
- Soreness in Your Breast Creases: This discomfort is common due to the placement of the implant behind the nipple. Soreness and tenderness are a result.
Tips for a Quick Breast Augmentation Recovery
- Choose a trustworthy caregiver to help you during the first 24 hours. Most of our patients choose a friend, partner or family member to help them right after surgery.
- Leave your incision wounds alone except for authorized treatment and the changing of bandages.
- Avoid quick movements, such as jumping or running which may cause your breasts to bounce or move. This activity can shift your implants before they are completely settled.
- Sleep on your back while uplifting your pillows. This practice should continue for six weeks. It will help you get in and out of bed more comfortably and avoid shifting the implants.
- Massage your breasts as instructed by Dr. Waltzman.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes that are easy to put on and remove.
- Hydrate by drinking plenty of water and eat healthy, nutritious foods.
- Get plenty of sleep and rest.
- Wear your surgical garments or support bras faithfully until instructed otherwise.
- Follow all recovery instructions you receive from Dr. Waltzman and attend every after surgery follow-up visit.