Breast Augmentation Recovery: Tips + What To Expect

Written by Chuma Chike-Obi, MD, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on January 23, 2017 45 Comments

breast augmentation recovery

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

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.


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


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.

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

  1. 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. Carly says:

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

  3. MSVCP140 says:

    🙂 OK !

  4. 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. 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. 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:

  7. 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. 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. 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 ( Now i’ll try to follow your tips for fast recovery.

  10. 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. 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. 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. 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. abeera says:

    Very quick and informative read! Great post!

  16. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

      WD Staff

  26. 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. Silas says:

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

  28. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Dominque says:

    This really answered my problem, thank you!

  35. 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. 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. 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. Marianne says:

    Very Helpful! Thank You!!!

  39. 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. 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!

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