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Breast Augmentation Recovery: Tips + What To Expect

Written by Chuma Chike-Obi, MD, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on May 13, 2021 48 Comments

breast augmentation recovery

Originally Published January 3, 2017. Updated May 13, 2021 to include additional recovery tips as well as information on avoiding complications.

Quick Summary: Breast augmentation recovery experiences can differ greatly from patient to patient. Most patients will be able to return to work and performed light activity 7 days after surgery. Normal activity can resume within 2 weeks, while normal physical activity (excluding chest targeting exercises) can resume in 4 weeks. By 6 weeks, the implants settle and the final result is realized. Continue reading to learn more about recovery timelines and tips.

The experience of recovering from breast augmentation surgery can differ greatly from individual to individual. This is understandable as every individual woman is different both in terms of their body’s natural recovery response and their pain tolerance. Additionally, procedural variables such as surgical technique used, type of implant used, size of the implant, and implant placement (above vs. below the muscle) can impact the recovery process.

While each patient’s breast implant recovery experience is unique, full recovery from breast augmentation surgery takes an average of 6 weeks. Understanding what to expect during your breast augmentation recovery can help you prepare and may even accelerate healing. Keep reading for a timeline of what to expect, tips for a speedy recovery, and advice on reducing risk of complications.

This article will give you a simple understanding of what to expect during breast augmentation recovery, along with a few tips on making the process easier (and faster).

Breast Augmentation Recovery Timline

The following time table lays out the basic milestones of the recovery process. Keep in mind that your experience may differ:

1 Day Following Surgery

Immediately after your surgery, your surgeon will apply protective bandaging (I usually use a soft cotton brassiere and an implant stabilizing bandeau) and transport you to a recovery room. It’s normal to feel sore, tired, and groggy as you awaken from the effects of anesthesia. Because you’ll still be on pain medications, you’ll need someone to drive you home and stay with you throughout the first night.

1 Week Following Surgery

You’ll feel the most uncomfortable during the first 2-4 days after your surgery. Your surgeon will have likely sent you home with muscle relaxants and pain medications, and possibly antibiotics. If you’ve received narcotic pain medication, you should be able to discontinue use after your first few days at home.

Pain is experienced differently by everyone, but most patients report feeling tightness or muscle soreness in the first week. This is accompanied by swelling, which is normal and should significantly subside after 7 days.

Follow all post-operative instructions carefully provide by your surgeon, including instructions for wound care and which bras, bandages or compression garments are ok to wear. The use of a surgical bra and compression bandages will help minimize discomfort and protect the wounds. Some individuals may feel nausea from the anesthesia utilized in procedure. By the 2-day point it will be ok to take a shower.

Within the first week, you’ll see your surgeon for a follow-up appointment. If you experience excessive pain, bleeding or fluid leakage before this, do not hesitate to contact your doctor. Most patients will be able to go back to work and perform light activity. However you should avoid bending, lifting, and other forms of strenuous movements.

2-4 Weeks Following Surgery

During this time, you should feel comfortable resuming light daily activity, including gentle exercise such as walking. Most women begin feeling pretty normal and can perform many normal daily activities without any pain. Any vigorous exercise should continue to be avoided. Avoid exercises that incorporate the upper body, as your incisions will still be healing.  I typically incorporate a breast massage regimen during this period.

If your job does not involve strenuous physical activity, you may return to work during this time. Any daily activity which requires moderate to intense physical activity or heavy lifting should be avoided for the first 3-4 weeks.

1-2 Months Following Surgery

After the first 6 weeks, you will likely have regained the full range of motion in your upper body, although you may still feel nervous about intense exercise. At this point, most patients feel well enough to gently begin normal exercise (although exercises that specifically target the chest should still be avoided). Be sure to receive permission from your doctor before resuming heavy lifting, high-impact activities, or strenuous movement of any kind.

Most people are able to safely and confidently return to their pre-surgery level of exercise (physical activity) 8 weeks after their breast augmentation procedure. Patients can also sleep on their abdomen and sides, and wear an underwire or push-up bra of their choice. The implants are usually “fully settled” and your final result is realized.

Video: Katie Corio Discusses Her Recovery Experience

Pain Management

Most patients will experience some degree of pain after their procedure, specifically within the first few days. The severity of pain you will feel depends upon your tolerance for pain and the surgical technique used. Some women feel little to no pain whereas others will have to manage their pain level using prescription painkillers. Typically patients who opt for implant placement below the muscle have a more painful (and lengthy) recovery compared to going above the muscle.

Implant Settling

Right after the procedure, it is completely normal for the implants to feel hard and sit in a high position, sometimes to the point where the nipples can point downward. Over time, the implants will begin to soften and settle to a more desirable position. At about the 6-week mark the breasts will begin to take on a more settled appearance.

Stretch Marks

The development of stretch marks from breast implants is rather rare and typically only occurs when larger sized implants are used. In the event that stretch marks do develop there are some laser treatments that can help minimize their appearance.

Scarring

Unfortunately, scarring after breast augmentation surgery is permanent. However, a skilled plastic surgeon will place the incision in low visibility areas like under the breast fold, around the areola line or within the armpit. Our plastic surgeons offer effective scar care protocols combining the use of silicone tape (or gel) with other clinically proven topical agents.

Tips for a Speedy Breast Augmentation Recovery

Proper Wound Care

Above all, follow your doctor’s advice on post-surgical care. During week one, your bandages will likely stay in place. Your doctor or her/his clinical staff will be the first to remove them at your follow-up appointment. At this appointment, you’ll learn how to best care for your incisions while they heal. Proper wound care is critical to avoid excessive scarring.

Eat, Drink, and Sleep Well

Rest as much as possible, especially during the first two weeks. As you recover, proper hydration and nutrition will ensure your body has the nutrients it needs to build new tissue and heal your wounds. Eat a variety of healthy, whole foods and drink plenty of water each day.  Adequate protein intake is important as your body needs the amino acids they provide for healing purposes.

Go Slow with Post-Surgery Exercise and Activity

Listen to your surgeon, and to your body, when it comes to post-surgery exercise. Easy walking can begin as early as day 2, and can actually help your body heal. Anything more intense than that must be mindfully and slowly introduced. Avoid high-impact exercise or upper body strengthening until you are fully recovered.

Thoughtful Bra Selection

Adequate breast support is key for successful long-term results, so finding the proper bra to wear during recovery is very important.  I’ve found that soft cotton bras work the best in the first few weeks. Sports bras should be reserved for exercising. Avoid underwire bras completely for at least the first month.

Breast Massage

Self-massage can help prevent scar tissue from forming around the breast implant, keeping the tissues supple and pliable.  It may also help manipulate the breast into an ideal shape and position as you heal.

Tips to Avoid Complications

Possible complications after breast augmentation surgery include the following:

  • Excessive bleeding or fluid loss
  • Infection at the incision site
  • Abnormal scarring
  • Asymmetric breasts
  • Breasts which sit too high on the chest (do your massage!)
  • Breast or nipple numbness or ongoing pain
  • Implant visibility, dimpling, or folding
  • Scarring around the implant
  • Implant leakage
  • Complications with breastfeeding

Follow Your Surgeon’s Guidance

To reduce your risk for the above complications and improve your chances of a smooth recovery, follow your surgeon’s post-surgical advice closely. It’s common to become impatient with self-massage, avoidance of exercise, or the recovery process in general. But strict adherence to your surgeon’s guidelines will improve your outcome significantly.

Listen to Your Body

If you experience severe pain or nausea soon after surgery, or if your bleeding seems excessive, do not hesitate to contact your doctor. Excessive pain and bleeding, or swelling that gets worse instead of better, can be a sign something is wrong. Early detection will reduce the risk of severe complications.

When reintroducing movement, stop if you feel pain or excessive discomfort. There’s no reason to push yourself quickly through your recovery. Let your body take the time it needs to properly heal, and you’ll see markedly improved long-term results.

Additional Resources On Breast Augmentation Recovery

 


Chuma Chike-Obi, MD

Chuma Chike-Obi, MD completed a 6 year residency with the Division of Plastic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and Affiliate hospitals in Houston, Texas. Dr. Chike-Obi specializes in cosmetic surgery, including facelift, blepharoplasty, breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty, and reconstructive breast surgery.


48 Responses to “Breast Augmentation Recovery: Tips + What To Expect”

  1. Avatar Lorri says:

    Thanks for providing this, im thinking about breast implants so this was helpful to understand what to expect. Unfortunately I’m not in Texas otherwise I would go to ya’ll 🙂

  2. Avatar Carly says:

    Thanks for sharing this Dr. Chike-Obi!!!!

  3. Avatar MSVCP140 says:

    🙂 OK !

  4. Avatar emily says:

    This is some really good information about breast surgery recovery. We also advise patients to eat light meals after their surgery. It’s always a good idea to make sure you are getting the right amounts of nutrients in these meals. We find it helps patients to recover faster.

  5. Avatar Kelly says:

    Would these same types of tips apply to a breast lift procedure?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Kelly, thanks for reading our post and submitting your question. Most of the tips do apply to a breast lift procedure, especially if implants are utilized. However, we would encourage you to speak directly to your surgeon for more exact insights on what you can expect post-procedure.

  6. Avatar Tyler says:

    My wife has been talking about getting a breast augmentation surgery and I want to make sure she recovers properly. It makes sense that stretch marks are somewhat rare but can still occur. I’ll have to talk to her about some of the potential side effects and some of the ways that we can speed up recovery. I also wanted to share that I found some good resources here as well: http://www.midohioplasticsurgery.com/

  7. Avatar Scott says:

    I like that you recommend to have a caregiver available for the first 2-3 post-surgery. I can see why this would allow you to rest the rest that you need and not have to worry about them. It sounds like this would be a big life decision to take. It seems like it would be a good idea to talk through it with a loved one who can be there to support you.

  8. Avatar Ricel says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas regarding breast augmentation recovery. It’s really informative and valuable information. It’s great!!

  9. Avatar Leslie says:

    Thank you for the tips. i will keep these tips in my mind. I just had my breast augmentation Surgery from IMC Medical Center (http://www.imcmedical.ae). Now i’ll try to follow your tips for fast recovery.

  10. Avatar Ridley says:

    My wife is looking at getting a breast lift, so this is great to know. I don’t think she needs it, but she does, so there you go. I’ll be sure that she follows all of the post surgery instructions, like you said to do.

  11. Avatar Larry says:

    I didn’t realize that getting lots of rest and sleep was important for recovering from breast augmentation. Getting augmentation is something that my wife has been thinking of doing, and she was wondering what it would take for the recovery process. Getting adequate rest and wearing loose-fitting clothing will be something I’ll let her know about as she considers the operation.

  12. Very quick and informative read! Great post!

  13. Avatar Brittany says:

    This post is spot on. I just had a breast augmentation recently and my recovery was quick and easy. I had little to no pain. The pain that you do experience isn’t like any other pain. It isn’t a dull achy or sharp throbbing pain the only way I could describe it to people is I was just sore. it felt like I just did a major chest work out at the gym for the first time in a long time. The only other thing I can suggest is to eat a high in protein diet two weeks before and after surgery with lots of water it will make a world of difference. I also slept in a recliner for the first two days after surgery because it was more comfortable than sleeping propped up in bed.

    Ask me to do it again I would do it ten times over again very easy procedure and recovery!!!

  14. Avatar Jeremy says:

    My wife has recently had the idea of having breast augmentation to feel younger again which is why I’m trying to learn more about it in case she does pursue the idea. Being able to learn that it would take her around 6 weeks to have her augmented breasts “fully settled” is a pretty handy thing to learn. That should be able to allow me to work with her in protecting her potential added breasts. I’ll do my best to share this information first with her before she tries anything. Thanks for the helpful article on what to expect after a breast augmentation project!

  15. Avatar abeera says:

    Very quick and informative read! Great post!

  16. Avatar Sutton says:

    I appreciate the information on breast augmentation recovery. My sister recently had this procedure done and is just going back to work. I am glad you mentioned that a week after surgery is when most people can go back to work.

  17. Avatar Ellie says:

    I didn’t know swelling and bruising of the breasts was normal two days after surgery. I’ve been thinking about getting my breasts augmented and was wanting to research the best way to get this done. I am wanting to find a doctor that will be easy for me to work with and who I feel comfortable allowing to operate on me.

  18. Avatar Taylor says:

    I just wanted to thank you for going over some tips on how to recover after a breast augmentation. It’s good to know that you should still avoid bending, lifting, and other movements like that 1 week after the surgery. You said that this is when you should have a post-op appointment, and maybe it could even be good to be update on your condition and how long you should wait.

  19. Avatar Kyle says:

    I thought it was interesting that you talked about how you should know the type, size, and placement of the implant you want to receive. My wife is looking to get some breast augmentation surgery and wants it to go smoothly. I’ll be sure to talk to her about finding a reliable professional and knowing exactly what she wants.

  20. Avatar Gary says:

    My wife is thinking about getting breast augmentation surgery. She’s a little hesitant though because of the pain and the recovery. It’s good to know that 2 weeks after surgery most women begin feeling normal again. I think this sounds like a doable recover process and might make my wife feel more at ease.

  21. Avatar Jenna says:

    I appreciate all your information on what to expect after getting breast implants, especially how you suggest to take plenty of time off work to rest and eat healthily and drink lots of water. There seems to be a lot to think about when recovering from surgery and so if I do decide to go forward with breast augmentation, I will keep your advice in mind. I just need to look into some surgeons in my areas and get some recommendations on the best one.

  22. Avatar Dr. Mofid says:

    I did like the part where you said that scars after the implants are permanent, but a skilled surgeon can ensure that the incisions are made in areas that will not be seen. That is very true!

  23. Avatar Ariana says:

    Hello! love the information!! every helpful tips. I have my pre-op appointment is Friday and I’m excited about my breast augmentation

  24. Avatar Gerty says:

    I appreciate that you mentioned you can help with scarring, but it will still be there. I have been looking into getting some breast implants, but I’m hesitant about the scarring. I will be sure to make it clear that I will want the scar to be in a highly low visible area, just so that I can be less self conscious.

  25. Avatar Taylor says:

    Thanks for these tips for recovering for breast augmentation. I’m glad that you mentioned that usually the pain can be managed with prescription painkillers. I’m interested to learn if there’s a way you can find out what painkillers you will need.

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Taylor, Thanks for reading our post and submitting your great question. There are many types of prescription medications that can be utilized to manage pain post-procedure. The exact type that is right for you will depend on your past medical history. Please feel free to contact us to learn more. We can go over your history and let you know the exact type that the surgeon would recommend.

      Thanks,
      WD Staff

  26. Avatar Sharee says:

    Thanks for the tips on making an easier recovery after breast augmentation surgery. I had no idea that the implants would take a couple of weeks before actually dropping into their desired spot. I thought it was done immediately after the surgery.

  27. Avatar Silas says:

    Thanks for these great tips! I’m getting new boobs in a couple weeks. Excited and nervous but this helped

  28. Avatar Sutton says:

    I didn’t know that after a week most patients will be able to go back to work and perform light activity. I am getting a breast augmentation surgery next month. I appreciate the information on recovering from breast surgery.

  29. Avatar Kit says:

    It sure is nice that you mentioned how patients can go back to work and perform light activities 1 week after the procedure. I’m a workaholic so I’m glad to know that I can go back to her office work a week after my breast augmentation.

  30. Avatar Taylor says:

    It was helpful when you mentioned that about 1 week after surgery, she should be able to return to work and do lighter activities. Thanks for the info!

  31. Avatar Michelle says:

    I have been thinking about getting a breast augmentation done. Probably the hardest thing will be sleeping on my back. I usually sleep on my stomach 🙁

  32. Avatar Amy says:

    Thanks for the article. I watched a YouTube by a doctor who was having his patients stretch their arms above their heads for faster healing. It was the next day. So two days after my lift (second surgery) I did them and again day three before Googling a wealth of information on not doing do I am freaking out that I did more harm post . Also, my implants are five years old. Why didn’t the doctor just replace them for life span? Yes I could have asked and gladly would have paid again to avoid a surgery any time in the near future (I am 49)

  33. Avatar Steele says:

    Thanks for the tips about breast augmentation recovery. I thinking about getting breast implants after I graduate. I think that it would help me feel more confident.

  34. Avatar Dominque says:

    This really answered my problem, thank you!

  35. Avatar Derek says:

    I found it interesting that most patients will be able to go back to work after a week of having a breast implant. I will share this article with the wife so she can know more about the recovery process after surgery.

  36. Avatar Jane says:

    Hi, Thank you so much for sharing such amazing tips and information about Breast Augmentation. This is really helpful styuff! Thanks again!!!

  37. Avatar Hazel says:

    I can attest to recovery being very different from person to person. I had by surgery earlier this year and within 2 weeks I was feeling pretty healed. My friend had hers around the same time and it seem to take her longer to recover. We’re both very happy with out new boobs though 🙂

  38. Avatar Marianne says:

    Very Helpful! Thank You!!!

  39. Avatar Jesse says:

    Recovery is greatly differs from patient to patient. My mom and sister both got breast implants. For my mother recovery took longer and she experienced more pain. It too a bit for her to feel well enough to lift her arms over her head or pick up heavy objects. My sister seemed pretty much back to normal within a week.

  40. Avatar hailey says:

    This was a very helpful post!! I’m thinking about breast implants and pain and recovery is my biggest concern. Thanks for putting this together!

  41. Avatar Kelly says:

    I was back at work in less than a week!

  42. Avatar Jillian says:

    Ummm it must vary greatly by patient, I had by surgery in early January. It’s 4-5 weeks later and still pretty sore. Or maybe I’m just a big wuss 🙁

  43. Great post, very well written. We’ll share on our social media

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