While many people believe the number of breast enhancement surgeries performed has decreased significantly in recent years, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. According to the The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, over 300,000 women underwent breast augmentation surgery in 2010. This represents a 50 percent increase in the number of augmentation procedures carried out within a single decade. Women often have this surgery to appear more feminine, sexy, or youthful as well as to feel more confident about the appearance of their body, especially in intimate situations.
What is breast augmentation surgery?
Also known as augmentation mammoplasty, this procedure is used to create fuller or larger appearing breasts by inserting implants beneath the chest muscles or directly under the breasts. The surgeon will explain the procedure and options for implants, and help with decision making to ensure the final choices are the correct ones to achieve the look each woman desires. Another area the surgeon will discuss in detail is the recovery process.
Recovery from breast augmentation surgery
While many women focus on the surgery and outcome, a big part of the process involves proper recovery measures. Recovery usually lasts from several weeks to several months after surgery with specific instructions provided by the surgeon to ensure the best outcomes and reduce the risk of adverse reactions.
- Waking up Following Surgery
After surgery, patients are monitored until they are ready to be released. This usually takes at least two hours. When patients first awaken they may experience blurry vision, sleepiness and confusion. These symptoms are likely caused by the anesthesia and will wear off relatively quickly. Soreness may also become evident as the anesthesia wears off but can be controlled with an over the counter pain reliever or narcotic if necessary. Once patients are ready to leave, it is important they have someone to drive them home.
- The First Week After Surgery
Ice is recommended for 48– to 72-hours after surgery to minimize swelling and bruising. A compression garment will also be recommended to decrease swelling, and ensure that the breasts maintain the desired shape. Often drains are placed during surgery to rid the surgical site of excess fluid. These drains and any stitches used to close the incision will be removed within the first week following surgery. In addition, patients are instructed not to get the incision site wet until completely closed to minimize chance of infection. Thus, women are told not to bath or shower for 5- to 7-days after the procedure.
- Pain, Swelling and Bruising
Most pain, swelling and bruising occurs within the first three- to four-days. There should be a noticeable improvement after the first week.When the implants are placed on top of the chest muscle, there is less post-operative pain than when they are placed beneath this muscle. Patients are usually told to use the lowest level of pain medication that is effective, using over-the counter medication if possible though pain medication is also prescribed to ensure the patient remains comfortable.
It is not unusual for swelling to last for three to four months after the procedure. While many women feel self-conscious due to fears everyone will notice, with the use of the proper undergarments and clothing the swelling often goes undetected. If someone makes a comment and the woman prefers not to reveal she had surgery, one solution is for the woman to smile widely while discussing the amazing breast enhancing exercises that she found on the internet. Drinking eight glasses of water a day, limiting salt intake and engaging in low intensity exercise can help reduce swelling.
Bruising following surgery is normal and should fade within one- or two- months. Sometimes herbal remedies are effective in decreasing bruising more quickly but which should not be used for two weeks following surgery. These include arnica, bromelain Vitamin E and Garlic.
Many people have trouble sleeping following surgery due to the necessity of sleeping on their backs while elevating their head and upper body to decrease pain and swelling. Often those who usually sleep on their stomachs or move from one to the other in their sleep will find themselves suddenly awakened when they’ve turned over in their sleep. It’s often recommended that women practice sleeping on their backs for several weeks prior to surgery to get used to sleeping in this position.
- Permissible Activities
Patients should walk around as soon as possible after surgery to lower the chance blood clots will develop and decrease swelling. Patients are instructed to refrain from strenuous activity for 3- to 4-weeks following surgery to maximize recovery. Regular exercise can be resumed within 2- to 3-months after surgery though any upper body weight-work should be discussed with the surgeon.
- Driving and Returning to Work
Most women are instructed they can resume driving when they are off all narcotic medications, and their pain level and range of movement allow for safe maneuvering. Depending on the requirements of the job, the patient may be able to return to work after a week if there is no lifting or strenuous activity involved.
While the recovery process may seem arduous, several polls and studies cited by The San Francisco Plastic Surgery and Laser Center reported that most women are pleased with the surgery results after recovery is complete. One poll revealed that 88 percent of participants stated they felt their surgery had been worth it, while another poll showed that 88 percent of those included were satisfied with their new breasts. The same poll also showed that most of the women felt the procedure had improved their appearance and self-confidence. Finally, a study conducted at the University of Florida found that women reported a significant increase in self-esteem and sexual functioning. Thus, while the recovery process may seem somewhat overwhelming, most women who undergo breast augmentation surgery feel positively about the outcomes both in appearance and psychosocial functioning.