If you’re considering breast implant surgery, you might have questions about recovery. How long is recovery? Is it painful? When will results look and feel normal and comfortable?
According to the The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than 300,000 women underwent breast augmentation surgery in 2018. This makes it the most popular cosmetic procedure in the United States. It is also considered a very safe procedure with low rates of complications. But like any surgery, there are risks. You should always consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon about expected outcomes. And recovery time and discomfort will vary for each patient.
What Is Breast Implant Surgery?
During augmentation mammoplasty, implants are inserted beneath the chest muscles or directly under the breasts. This creates fuller or larger appearing breasts. Since it is a surgery, there will be recovery time.
Breast Implant Surgery Recovery
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. Be sure to follow the specific instructions provided by Dr. Liebscher. This best ensures optimal outcomes and reduces the risk of adverse reactions.
Below are general recovery timelines and recommendations. Of course, your personal situation may be unique. Consult with Dr. Liebscher about recovery instructions and expectations.
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 this can be controlled with an over-the-counter pain reliever or narcotic if necessary. Once you are ready to leave, it is important you have someone to drive you 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 they 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.
Patients should walk around as soon as possible after surgery. This lowers 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. Any upper body weight-work should be discussed with Dr. Liebscher.
Driving and Returning to Work
Most women can resume driving when:
- you are finished with all narcotic medications
- your pain level and range of movement allow for safe maneuvering
You may be able to return to work after a week if no lifting or strenuous activity is involved.
While recovery may seem a bit arduous, most women report they are pleased with their breast augmentation surgery results. They feel positively about the outcomes both in appearance and psychosocial functioning.
Breast Augmentation Recovery (ASPS)
Recently edited. Originally published February 22, 2013.