Breast Augmentation Recovery: Tips + What To Expect
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.
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).
Recovery Milestones & Restrictions
The following time table lays out the basic milestones of the recovery process. Keep in mind that your experience may differ:
- 2-3 Days Following Surgery: Most patients experience light to moderate pain which can be managed through pain medication. Swelling of the breasts and bruising in the chest area is also normal. 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.
- 1 Week Following Surgery: 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. At the one week mark you’ll return for a post-op appointment to have your incisions and breasts inspected.
- 2 Weeks Following Surgery: Most women begin feeling pretty normal and can perform many normal daily activities without any pain. Any vigorous exercise should continue to be avoided. At the end of the second week it’s usually possible to take baths.
- 4 Weeks Following Surgery: At this point, most patients feel well enough to gently begin normal exercise (although exercises that specifically target the chest should still be avoided).
- 6 Weeks Following Surgery: The 6-week point marks the completion of the recovery process. Most patients can exercise without restraint, 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
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.
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.
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.
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
- Make sure to follow all post-procedure instructions provided by your surgeon. This is critical!
- Attend all post-op appointments with your surgeon
- Wear surgical bras and other garments as instructed by your surgeon.
- Get lots of rest and sleep.
- Eat light and healthy foods and drink lots of water.
- Give yourself a full week off from work.
- Wear loose fitting clothing, specifically tops that will not require you to raise your arms in order to put them on.
- Routinely massage your breasts if advised to do so by your surgeon.
- Pick a good caregiver. They’ll need to be with you over the first 24 hours following the procedure. If you have young children you’ll likely need to set up a dedicated caregiver for the first 2-3 days.
- Make sure to sleep on your back and prop yourself up with pillows. This will help facilitate getting in and out of bed. Avoid sleeping on your belly or side for 6 weeks following your procedure.
- Limit any physical movements which make the breasts bounce (like running or jumping) until you are fully healed.
- Avoid trying to look at your scars as that could re-open your wounds.
Additional Resources On Breast Augmentation Recovery
- RealSelf.com Q&A Center
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons
- Emily Duncan’s Breast Augmentation Experience
- Great Blog On Breast Augmentation Experience by Lara Clevenger