Every individual will recover from breast augmentation differently, due to the difference in pain tolerance and natural healing ability among women. Other factors can also determine how well you recover, such as the surgical technique used, the type of implant, size of the implant, and the placement of the implant (whether it is above or below the muscle). This article aims to provide you with a basic understanding of what you should expect while recovering from breast augmentation, as well as leaving you with a few tips on how to make your recovery easier and faster.
Recovery Milestones and Restrictions
This is a standard time table for the milestones of the recovery period. This is not the same for everyone, however, so your experience might be different.
- 2-3 days after surgery: You will likely have light to moderate pain, which is handled with pain medication. You can expect some swelling and bruising of the breasts and chest area. Many patients choose to wear a surgical bra or compression bandages to manage discomfort and to protect the surgery site. You might experience nausea from the anaesthesia, which is also normal. After two days, you should be cleared to shower again.
- 1 week after surgery: You will likely be able to return to work and resume light activity. You should refrain from bending over, lifting heavy objects, or doing any other strenuous movement. You should also return to your doctor for a post-surgery appointment, so your doctor can inspect your incisions and progress.
- 2 weeks after surgery: Many patients begin to feel normal again and you will be able to resume many of your normal daily routines. You should still avoid vigorous exercise and strenuous activities, especially anything that strains the chest area specifically. You should also be allowed to take baths after two weeks.
- 4 weeks after surgery: After four weeks, you should be able to start building up to your normal exercise routine, but you should still avoid any exercise that strains the chest area.
- 6 weeks after surgery: Your recovery should be complete after six weeks. You should be able to exercise normally, sleep on your abdomen and sides, and wear a normal bra. The implants should be fully settled, and your breasts should have their desired appearance.
It is normal to experience some pain after the surgery, especially in the first few days of recovery. The severity of the pain will depend on your own pain tolerance and the techniques used in the surgery. Some patients feel very little pain, while others require prescription pain medication to manage it. Implants placed below the muscle generally involve more pain and a longer recovery period than implants placed above the muscle.
The implants will likely feel hard and sit very high right after surgery, and sometimes the nipples can even point straight down. The implants will settle and soften and migrate to their desired position as you heal. This process usually takes about six weeks.
It is rare to develop stretch marks after breast implants, though it does happen, especially with larger implants. Laser treatments can be used to reduce the appearance of these stretch marks if they do occur.
Scarring from breast implants is usually permanent. However, if you go to a skilled surgeon they will be able to minimize the appearance of scars by placing the incision in a less visible area, such as under the breasts, in the armpits, or around the areola. There are also topical treatments that can reduce the appearance of scars.
Tips For a Quick and Easy Recovery
- Follow all post-operation instructions from your doctor. They are the experts, they know what to do!
- Follow up with your plastic surgeon and attend all the post-procedure appointments.
- Use surgical bras or other garments recommended by your surgeon.
- Rest is essential for recovery, so get plenty of sleep.
- Eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water, staying hydrated is essential.
- Don’t go back to work for at least a full week to ensure a good recovery.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes and tops that don’t require you to raise your arms to get them on.
- Give your breasts a routine massage, as instructed by your surgeon.
- Have a good caregiver on hand during your recovery. They will need to be there for the first 24 hours after surgery, and if you have children you should hire a caregiver for the first several days of recovery.
- Sleep on your back and use pillows to prop yourself up. Do not sleep on your stomach or sides for six weeks after the surgery.
- Avoid physical activities that make your breasts bounce, such as running and jumping, until you have recovered completely.
- Don’t try to look at the scars, as this can re-open the wounds before they are fully healed.