Breast Implant Settling: What To Know
Breast augmentation recovery doesn’t end when your incisions heal. Anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months after surgery, your implants will settle into a lower, more natural-looking position. This process is also referred to as ‘dropping and fluffing.’ Breasts drop into a lower position while the area below the nipple fluffs into a fuller shape. Learn more about breast implant settling.
Why Do Breast Implants Settle?
Immediately after your breast augmentation procedure, you may notice your breasts seem higher, flatter, or fuller above the nipple than you’d hoped for. This is completely normal, and is caused by tight skin and muscle tissues.
The look of higher, or more flattened breasts may be more pronounced for those who have had their implants placed below the pectoral muscle. At first, the muscle compresses the implant, flattening it out. Over time, your soft tissues will relax, adjusting to the new shape of your breasts and allowing implants to settle.
Breast settling, also referred to as “dropping” or “fluffing””, describes the natural process of implants dropping lower and taking on a more natural shape that’s fuller on the bottom.
How Long Does It Take For Implants To Settle?
Everyone recovers from breast implant surgery at a different pace. In general, implants may begin to settle as early as 2 weeks, as initial swelling subsides.
Muscles will continue to relax over time. The entire process of implant settling may take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months.
What Factors Influence Breast Implant Settling?
How quickly your implants settle also depends on the following variables:
Implant Size: Larger, heavier implants may settle more quickly than smaller, lighter implants as gravity helps draw the weight of the implant downward.
Implant Texture: Smoother implants may take longer to drop than textured implants. The extra friction texture provides may keep implants positioned higher for longer.
Implant Shape: Initially, round implants are more flattened by pectoral muscle tissue than other shapes. This is true for both silicone and saline implants.
Placement Below the Muscle: When implants are placed under the pectoral muscle, they experience more pressure than when placed above the muscle. Upper pole or above the nipple fullness may seem more exaggerated at first. You may experience soreness as muscles slowly stretch to accommodate for the implant.
Implants can take longer to settle in athletic patients with well-developed chest muscles. In the long-run, however, below-muscle placement is recommended for saline implants and can lead to more natural-looking results.
Post-Surgical Care: Following your doctor’s post-surgical advice will speed healing and can help implants settle sooner. After your incisions are healed, massage may also help encourage breast implant settling.
Can You Speed Up The Settling Process?
Following your surgeon’s follow-up care instructions is perhaps the most important thing you can do to help your implants settle smoothly and quickly. These instructions may include the following:
- Care and clean incisions as instructed
- Wear compression garments as advised
- Avoid underwire bras
- Refrain from strenuous physical activity
There’s no reason to hasten the implant settling process. Your breasts will settle naturally on their own time.
Will Settling Affect the Size or Shape of My Implants?
Breast size and shape may change many times through the recovery process. One implant may even settle slightly ahead of the other. This is normal and nothing to be concerned about.
For some, breast implants appear larger or fuller before they have settled, especially above the nipple. Others may perceive an increase in size after the breast implants have settled.
Can Implants Fail to Settle? What Happens Then?
Most women notice some settling within 6 weeks of surgery, although the full process can take up to 6 months.
If your breasts do not appear to be settling at all, or if you experience an increase in pain, bleeding or swelling after the first week of recovery, contact your surgeon as soon as possible to rule out the possibility of complications.