What should I expect when recovering from breast augmentation surgery?

Dr. Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgeon

Postoperatively, our patients have minimal amounts of pain. They may have swelling and increased edema to the chest wall. There is definitely mild discomfort which is usually well alleviated by pain medications, including Vicodin or Tylenol with Codeine. Our patients are instructed to maintain their surgical bras in place with 4 x 4 gauze and an upper pull compression band that helps to bring the implants to a normal position inferiorly. Our patients are instructed not to do any heavy lifting for 3-4 weeks, keep the incisions dry to prevent staph or streptococcal infections, maintain 7 days of oral antibiotics as well. The patients are seen on postop day 1, day 7 and day 14 in order to evaluate for postoperative complications and to monitor the patients' postoperative recovery.

Most patients of a breast augmentation surgery can return to normal activates in a couple of weeks. Learn more from Dr. Michael Howard on behalf of NorthShore University HealthSystem about the recovery process of a breast augmentation surgery.

Dr. Erik A. Hoy, MD
Plastic Surgeon

As with any surgical procedure, you should expect to play a large role in your recovery. Understand that you will need to be able to motivate yourself to walk and get about on the day after your surgery, while remembering not to do too much. Mild discomfort and a feeling of tightness in your chest and shoulders should be expected. Remember to keep your arms near your sides—it will be some time before you can raise your arms above your shoulders for activities.

You will likely need help at home for the first few days. Mild pain medications prescribed by your doctor will help with the initial soreness. The tight feeling should resolve after a week to ten days. Feel free to wear clothes that flatter your new physique if you so choose, just remember to avoid those garments that rub or bind in the areas of your incisions.

Sleeping with several pillows beneath your shoulders should help decrease swelling postoperatively. It is very important that you sleep on your back for the first several months (or longer) to prevent any displacement of the implants from body positioning.

Some surgeons may recommend that you wear a bandeau, a bra at all times, or compressive garment for some period after surgery. This will also help prevent any fluid from accumulating and may help to minimize displacement of the implants while you heal. While we are on the subjects of clothing and incisions, be sure to keep your surgical sites covered and out of direct sunlight for several months. This will allow the scar to mature with a minimum risk of hyper- or hypopigmentation (becoming a lighter or darker shade than the surrounding skin).

Tara Whitworth, MSN
Nursing Specialist

The first few days after surgery will be the most difficult. You will be tired and sore and your breasts will be tight and swollen. The pain usually subsides after about a week, but the swelling will remain for several weeks. Your implants may appear to be high on your chest, especially if your implants were placed under the muscle. Over the weeks and months, your muscles will relax and your implants will drop down to the appropriate place. You may need to wear a sports bra for the first 6 weeks after surgery. You will need to limit your activities for the first week after surgery, but you may gradually increase your activity after that. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication and a muscle relaxer to help with the discomfort. Remember not to drive while you are taking this medication.

Dr. John F. Burnett, MD
Plastic Surgeon

When recovering from breast augmentation surgery the discomfort usually lasts about three days and varies from person to person. Generally after three days you’ll feel like you can drive and do light work, like deskwork. You won’t feel like being strenuous with activity until after the first one or two weeks.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.