Breast Augmentation Recovery
A speedy recovery after breast augmentation is high on the priority list of most physicians. Your doctor will give you specific post-surgical care instructions, and likely review them with you several times prior to your scheduled procedure. Follow these instructions to the letter, as they were tailor made with the specifics of your procedure and medical history in mind.
The recovery period for a breast augmentation is probably one of the shortest in comparison to other plastic surgery procedures. On average breast augmentation surgery can take anywhere between 45 minutes up to two hours and is typically performed in an outpatient facility or medical suite. Breast augmentation recovery can ultimately depend on how well the patient chooses to follow post-operative instructions and rest.
Immediately following surgery, many patients have reported feeling tightness, pressure, and weight in the chest. This is normal as the breast tissue and pectoral muscle are adjusting to the new breast implant prosthetic.
Some patients also experience a bit of the “blues” following surgery, due in part to the medications and the experience of undergoing major surgery. This is completely normal and generally passes within a week or less.
In the days after surgery, patients are generally able to walk around freely, though range of motion in in the arms and torso may be limited.
How to Prepare for your Breast Augmentation Surgery
Patients who choose to undergo any kind of elective surgical procedure should be in good overall health and at a stable body weight. For example, if a patient is in the process of losing weight, our surgeons advise to finish losing weight, then maintain a stable weight for a minimum of three months before having any kind of procedure. Fluctuations in weight can have a great impact on cosmetic procedures, particularly breast augmentation as laxity in skin will play a part in the size of breast implant as well as the placement.
Thirty to forty days prior to having surgery patients are to stop smoking, taking vitamin supplements, diet medications, and any other indications made by your surgeon. Your surgeon may also ask that you stop taking certain kinds of birth control, as well as certain medications.
Some patients may be required to have chest x-rays if they have a history of respiratory problems, among other tests to ensure patient safety.
Two to three weeks before surgery patients are advised to stop taking any medication containing ibuprofen, or aspirin. Patients are also to stop drinking alcoholic beverages, tea, herbal supplements, such as herbal life, vitamins, and protein shakes.
Each patient’s pre-operative instructions are different, and may not make sense right away. Failure to follow pre-operative care instructions not only puts the patient in danger, but ignoring the surgeon’s indications may also have an adverse effect on recovery time as well as alter the results of the surgery.
What to expect after Breast Augmentation Surgery
Here are some tips from the Pro’s on what most patients will experience following breast implant surgery
Over the weeks following a breast augmentation surgery, it is commonly advised to avoid strenuous activities of any kind; not limited to exercise, activities which raise your resting heart rate, especially if it involves using your arms and chest. Your doctor may ask you to wear post-surgical compression garments such as bandages, bras, or a sports bra for some extra support and positioning during the recovery time. Conversely, in some cases surgeons recommend no little or no compression or support.
Take the time to discuss the recovery plan your surgeon has created. Your doctor can give you individualized suggestions suited to your circumstances. While your doctor may prepare you for inevitabilities following surgery, if you notice any abnormalities, like fever or excessive redness, do not hesitate to contact your doctor immediately.
Swelling, tenderness, extra sensitivity, and tightness of the breast area can be expected in the month after your procedure. Treating your new breasts gently while you’re healing is vital for your body to heal and recover properly, and can minimize discomfort.
Before your surgery, buy a few flat gel icepacks and have them prepared ahead of your surgery. The ice packs will help reduce pain and swelling which occurs normally after surgery. Arrange for someone to assist you at home after your breast augmentation. Simple tasks can become complicated due to limited mobility in the upper half of your body.
Breast Augmentation Recovery Timeline
Below is a sample timeline of breast augmentation recovery stages. It is generally advised that exercise after breast augmentation involving weights be limited until 90 days after your surgery.
NOTE: No tow patients are the same. Every patient is unique and therefore heals differently and at various rates.
- Days 1 - 4 Inflammation Expect swelling, pain, and discomfort. You may experience some bleeding in the first 24 hours, don’t panic. This is the time when patients take the most medication. If your surgeon Ok’d movements, try to move your arms in order minimize spasm pain. You may see bruises develop.
- Days 4 - 10 Shower Time Though your post-op care instructions may vary, it is generally ok to shower and get wounds briefly wet. Fluid retention and swelling of the abdomen are normal. Some patients experience mild constipation stemming from the pain medication. Pain begins to diminish during the daytime and some patients decrease the frequency of pain management medication. Patients have reported more severe pain in the middle of the night, particularly those with submuscular breast implants. Be vigilant of signs of infection. Most patients begin their implant displacement massages and exercises during this period.
- Days 10 - 21 significant decrease in risk of infection or bleeding. Most patients are able to return to moderate impact exercises, such as walking, but must avoid heavy lifting. Swelling and night pain should begin to subside. Numbness of the nipples can occur during this period. Aggressive implant displacement exercises commence.
- Days 21- 42 most patients can switch to over the counter medication to manage pain.
- Days 42 - 9 Months Descent & Jiggle The easing of scar tissues result in the descent and overall softening of the implant. Breasts develop a jiggle and are now in position since at this point there is no swelling.
Although the breast implants have found their “home” in your chest at this point, remember that they will continue to change especially in the event of pregnancy, fluctuation in body weight, and menopause.
Scarring following breast implant surgery depends on the type of incisions. Healthy patients can expect for their incisions to be fully healed six weeks after their surgery, and continue to see scars fade over time.
At Eres Plastic surgery we offer several Scarless breast augmentation options such as the Transumbilical Breast Augmentation, TUBA for short. This technique uses the belly button as the point of incision. The surgeon tunnels up towards the pectoral muscle and places the implant shell into the breast pocket empty. Once in place, the breast implant shell is pumped until full with sterile saline solution by way of a small tube. Once completed, the tube is removed and the valve of the implant is closed. Once of the greatest advantages of selecting this point of incision is a faster, less painful recovery since the incision are much smaller than those used in other methods. The TUBA method is not available to patients who choose silicone gel implants.
Another method which produces minimal scarring is the transaxillary method, where the point of incision is through the armpit. The incision is made at the armpit, an area of the body which generally heals quickly with minimal scarring. Unlike the TUBA method, this method can be used with both saline and silicone gel implants, though sizing may be limited.
Post-Operative Breast Implant Massages
Do not massage your implants if you have undergone a breast lift or if you have textured implants. Regardless of the nature of your procedure, always follow your surgeon’s specific post-operative plan.
Regular massaging of the breasts following breast implant surgery is recommended to most patients to help move implants into position, keep the implants soft, and to lower the risk of capsular contracture.
Patients may be instructed to perform various kinds of massages during the first three to six months following surgery.
Types of Breast Massages
- Downward Massage Submuscular implants initially rest higher on the chest cavity after surgery due to the tautness of the pectoral muscle. Gravity is a great ally in helping muscles eventually stretch, allowing breast implants to find their permanent “seat” on the chest. To aid the process, patients may be instructed to manipulate their breasts downward. It is normal for breast implants to initially appear asymmetrical during this time. Using gentle pressure, patients pull the natural breast tissue up while pulling the implant down.
- Upward Massage To further stretch the implant capsule, most patients are also instructed to perform upward massages. Loosening the breast pocket in the upper poles prevents the implants from moving to low on the chest due to gravity. Similar to the downward massage in reverse, patients performing upward massages push the breast implant as far upwards as possible within the pocket.
- Medial Massage Simply put, this technique requires the patient to move their implants inwards towards each other, allowing for improved cleavage, as well as the stretching the pocket in the case of submuscular implant placement. Patients performing this massage reach for their implant prosthetic with the opposite had and squeeze the implant as far inward as possible.
- Lateral Massage The least common of all techniques, the lateral massage is prescribed to the patient who needs to spread the breasts outwardly usually following the release of a capsular contracture. Similar to the medial massage, patients’ performing the lateral massage push the implant outwards with the palm of the opposite hand.
How long does it take to recover from Breast Augmentation?
Every patient heals at different rates, and experiences recovery in their own unique way. Your surgeon knows best and will go into detail what you can and can’t do following your breast augmentation. Patients who do not suffer post-operative complications can generally return to non-strenuous jobs after 20 days or so. Patients are also allowed to engage in moderate exercises, such as walking around this time. If all goes well, breast augmentation patients can expect to be fully healed around the six week mark; however the breast implants don’t find their final nesting place until about a year after surgery.
Make sure to attend your scheduled follow up appointments, and, perhaps most importantly, if you have any questions concerning your post-surgery instructions or if something doesn’t look or feel right, contact your doctor right away. When in doubt, give the doctor a shout!