Breast Augmentation Recovery Guide

Tue 5th Apr 2022

Breast Augmentation, also referred to as Augmentation Mammoplasty, is a cosmetic surgery that involves using saline or silicone implants to enhance the size, shape and volume of your breasts. It is a major procedure that demands a lot of pre-operative preparation and post-operative recovery. Breast implants typically take between three to six months to adjust and settle.

This article explores what you can expect during Breast Augmentation recovery.

Breast Augmentation Recovery Timeline

Although the Breast Augmentation procedure is completed within a couple of hours and typically does not require an overnight stay, recovery will take up to six weeks. It is important to appreciate that recovery takes time and is different for everyone, but here is what you can expect.

Immediately After Surgery

Immediately after waking from anaesthesia, you will likely feel drowsy, possibly nauseous and sore. It may feel similar to a hangover, but these effects should wear off in a couple of hours. Someone will need to drive you home and stay with you overnight to care for you.

You will be sent home with a waterproof dressing, surgical bra, pain medication and antibiotics.

You are expected to start light walking immediately after surgery – nothing strenuous, just short walks every other hour. Gentle slow simple walking around the house is fine and is encouraged. Going home to lay in bed all day is not recommended. Avoid lifting or moving your arms up, keeping your elbows by your side is beneficial.

Implants will initially appear high and tight due to significant upper pole fullness. They will slowly settle and soften.

The First 10 Days After Surgery

The pain associated with the breast augmentation procedure is typically at its worst during the first week, peaking on the second or third day, with swelling and bruising increasing throughout the week. In the beginning, activities that engage the pectoral muscles can be particularly painful, so avoid these. During this time, you will need assistance for many day-to-day activities.

You will continue taking your prescribed pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications as directed to alleviate pain and discomfort.

You will see Dr Dona for your review, where your incision will be examined, and dressings changed. After a week, with Dr Dona’s approval, you may gradually ease into daily activities and lower body exercise/light walking that keeps tension away from the wound.

You can start driving after 1 week if you feel comfortable enough to do so.

You can return to light office-based desk work after 1 week.

Two to three Weeks Postoperative

After two weeks, patients can start more intense cardio such as walking on a treadmill or walking uphill.

The discomfort should be minimal at this point, but labour-intensive jobs and any strenuous physical activity, like going to the gym, should be avoided.

Four to Six Weeks Postoperative

You will not require any pain medication, and you no longer have to wear your surgical bra after 6 weeks.

Most of swelling will be gone at six weeks, so you can now be formally fitted for new bras which you need to wear.

You can return to normal physical activities at this stage, and simply be guided by your comfort levels.

Three Months Postoperative

After three months, the pectoralis muscle and breast tissue slowly relax and loosens up to comfortably accommodate the implants – breasts starting to settle and soften.

You should be well and truly on track to getting back into your regular regime.

Six months Postoperative

It takes 6 months for the breasts to fully settle and soften. Your surgeon will examine you at each milestone, examining the incision, breast fold and scar tissue – ensuring that they are healing correctly.

The six-month appointment is when your results are critically assessed.

Possible complications

No surgical procedure is risk-free and Breast Augmentation surgery is no exception. It is important that you understand the possible complications so that you can make a fully informed decision about whether breast implant surgery is right for you.

Serious complications associated with general anaesthesia are uncommon in people who are otherwise healthy. However, reactions and complications can arise from the anasthetic.

For a detailed list of potential complications go to our main webpage. LEARN MORE

Some of the risks associated with breast augmentation are:

  • Nerve damage may alter nipple sensation. Your nipples may feel more sensitive, less sensitive, or lose feeling entirely. This damage is temporary for some women, but it can be permanent in others.
  • The scar tissue that surrounds the implant becomes abnormally thick and tight, causing the breasts to become painful, distorted and lose softness (capsular contracture).
  • Breast implant rippling where the folds and wrinkles on the implant are visible on the skin.
  • Implant rupture can occur.
  • Infection surrounding the implant or at the surgical site.
  • Asymmetry, or unevenness, of the breasts.
  • Severely discoloured, raised and irregularly shaped scar tissue. These scars may be inflamed and itchy.

It is essential that you discuss your medical and surgical history, which includes your allergies, medications, lifestyle, physical and mental health, motivations and smoking history with your surgeon. These considerations can impact your surgery, anaesthetic and post-operative care; therefore, it is essential that you are completely open throughout your consultation. We will also discuss the possible risks and complications that are specific to you.

Achieving an Optimal Recovery After Breast Augmentation

The success of Breast Augmentation surgery will depend on how well you heal. To improve recovery time and reduce scarring after breast augmentation, adhere to the following strategies:

Wear the provided surgical bra and avoid underwires

You will be provided with a compression garment (surgical bra) that is specifically designed to support your breasts after breast augmentation surgery. Wearing the compression garment as instructed is an essential part of post-operative care as they accelerate the healing process by controlling swelling and inflammation. Typically, for at least six weeks after breast augmentation, you should be wearing your surgical bra constantly and not consider going braless.

Avoid submerging your breasts underwater. Submerging your new incisions, whether that be in a swimming pool or bathtub, should be avoided until your wounds are completely closed. Water can introduce bacteria into your newly sutured skin which lead to infection, causing complications and impede on the healing process. You can shower and simply dab your breasts gently with a clean towel to soak up any moisture in the area.

Take the prescribed medication and care for your incisions

Take your prescribed pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications as directed to alleviate pain and discomfort.

Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes

While you would have been advised to refrain from smoking or consuming alcohol before undergoing anaesthesia for surgery, you should continue to avoid alcohol and nicotine until you fully recover. Smoking obstructs oxygen-rich blood from efficiently reaching your incisions where it promotes healing. Drugs and alcohol distort your immune system and can seriously delay healing.

Avoid strenuous upper body activities

Strenuous upper body activities too soon can cause the implants to shift, which can make the breasts appear asymmetrical. Overusing the pectoral muscle can also cause excessive tension on the healing wound. This could result in side effects, such as swelling, bruising and hematomas (blood vessels that leak into the surrounding breast tissue).  Exercises that engage the pecs muscle, such as heaving lifting, should be avoided until approved by the surgeon – this is typically at four to six weeks.

Prioritise sleep

While sleeping, your body undergoes a series of changes that are essential to healing. The best position to sleep after Breast Augmentation surgery is on your back with your upper body slightly elevated. This position can be achieved by sleeping in a recliner or with a stack of pillows in your bed. Elevated sleep is the best strategy to alleviate swelling and soreness.

On average, the recovery period for breast implant surgery usually takes approximately four to six weeks. This recovery period is an integral part of the overall outcome of a breast augmentation procedure.

If you are considering the Breast Augmentation procedure, it is essential that you have a thorough understanding of what’s required to recover. While this article offers an overview of the recovery period, Dr Dona will supply you with detailed instructions on post-operative care well before the actual day of surgery so you can both prepare ahead.

For more information regarding Breast Augmentation surgery or to request a consultation with Dr Dona, please contact us using the form below this article.

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Dr Eddy Dona has been a specialist plastic surgeon since 2007, and is a member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. From your first clinic visit, and throughout your surgical journey, Dr Dona and his team will be there to make it as smooth as possible.
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