Breast Augmentation Recovery

We’d be misleading you if we let you think that immediately following breast implant surgery your breasts would look their best, you’d be full of energy and you could jump back into your routine 100 percent pain free. That just won’t happen. Every single surgery is followed by a recovery period.

However, you can plan ahead for recovery by finding out which milestones most women experience. We have taken what we have learned from women who have been through breast augmentation surgery as well as plastic surgeons to answer some of your most commonly asked questions.

The post-breast augmentation, recovery questions we answer here are:

  • How Can I Prep for Recovery Before Surgery?
  • How Will I Feel After Breast Augmentation?
  • How Much Breast, Stitch or Incision Pain is OK?
  • How Long Does It Take Breast Implants to Settle In?
  • How Long After My BA Can I Work? Exercise? Have Sex?
  • How Do I Know I’m Recovering Well from BA Surgery?

*IMPORTANT: The following information is intended to help demystify the breast augmentation recovery process. It in NO way serves as a substitute for breast implant surgery recovery guidelines, tips or instructions provided by your cosmetic plastic surgeon and his or her team of professional care providers.

How Can I Prep for Recovery Before Surgery?

“An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure.” – Benjamin Franklin

Planning ahead makes breast augmentation recovery easier on you and those who love you. Use the following list, plan to gather up items in advance that will reduce the need to scramble around after surgery:

  • Ask for and read your surgeon’s post-op instructions
  • Set up a recovery area with extra pillows and blankets
  • Choose someone to be with you, nearby and/or on call
  • Set snacks, water, meds, mags and remote controls nearby
  • Buy compression garments and practice taking them off and on
  • Ask girlfriends who’ve had breast augmentation for their top recovery tips

Remember to fill prescriptions in advance and keep them close at hand, along with your surgeon’s post-op instructions and phone numbers (daytime and after hours). And, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you have concerns before or after surgery, call your surgeon.

How Will I Feel After Breast Augmentation?

For the first few days after surgery, you will be in pain, and you will be sore. These symptoms are common and shouldn’t cause alarm:

  • Pain – which responds well to prescribed medication(s)
  • Swelling – which is noticeably reduced after ice is applied
  • Soreness – which is concentrated at the chest, neck and back
  • Redness – which generally appears near incisions and stitches
  • Nausea – which gets better after a snack or sips of ginger ale

Plastic surgeons typically write prescriptions for related medications prior to surgery. Get them filled in advance and take them as prescribed to keep pain and swelling down. Don’t skip or delay doses because they can set up to 30 minutes to kick in - if you wait until it hurts, you will be in pain. Ask if, how and when ice packs, heating pads or OTC meds are recommended for use.

Some patients experience nausea or a “hangover” response to anesthesia. One way to overcome that is by limiting your movement. Keep a bucket and a moist towel or baby wipes nearby in case you feel sick. That way, you won’t have to make a painful dash for the bathroom.

How Much Breast, Stitch or Incision Pain is OK?

Proper healing is a key component in successful breast implant surgery. The worst of your breast augmentation recovery pain should subside a few days after surgery, but plan to spend weeks adjusting to the growing pains associated with breast implants – breast tightness, back pain, etc.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons breaks breast augmentation pain down this way:

  • 1-2 days: You will feel the most pain, but meds help reduce it.
  • 3-7 days: You will still feel sluggish and should still take it easy.
  • 8-21 days: You will be sore but can get around more easily.

Women recovering from breast augmentation surgery often describe feeling a certain amount of discomfort, pain and tenderness across their breasts and along stitch and incision points.

Dealing with stitches and incision points can be one of the most difficult aspects of recovery. When you feel the itch, you know your body’s healing, but don’t scratch. Excessive itchiness is not good. Ask your plastic surgeon for tips that make dealing with the side effect easier, like applying pre-approved OTC creams or ointments.

How Long Does It Take Breast Implants to Settle In?

After your plastic surgeon assesses your health and lifestyle, reviews your medical history and determines your breast implant needs, he or she can roughly estimate recovery time. During post surgery follow up visits, your plastic surgeon will let you know whether or not you’re still on track.

Your implants will need time to settle into their final position. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery sets the following general time table for implant settling:

  • 1 month: Initial breast swelling subsides, implants begin settling into position.
  • 3-4 months: Implants reach a resting point.
  • 8-12 months: Breasts fully settle.

In the interim, it may appear as if one breast implant is settling in more slowly or quickly than the other – or as if they’re both still sitting relatively high. Give them time, and don’t be alarmed. Initial asymmetry typically corrects itself with time.

How Long After My Breast Augmentation Can I Work? Exercise? Have Sex?

The ASPS finds that more than 80 percent of breast augmentation patients resume regular, everyday activities in less than a week - within 2-3 days in some cases. That doesn’t mean getting around is easy or that you should exert yourself. It means you won’t be bedridden forever.

As a general rule:

  • Return to work once pain is manageable with OTC meds
  • Take as much time off as needed, aiming for 3-5 days minimum
  • Avoid physical tasks that require lifting, arm raising, etc. (includes lifting children...)
  • Gentle stretching exercises are beneficial when done slowly
  • Sex is most enjoyable and safest when you feel you’re ready

Basically, keep going easy on yourself. Avoid bending, stretching and reaching. If not, you’ll become sore or risk swelling up. Your plastic surgeon can help outline things you can do and when. In general, avoid strenuous activity and stay away from steam, hot water, pools, tubs, etc.

How Do I Know I’m Recovering Well from Breast Augmentation Surgery?

Beyond routine pain and soreness, be on the lookout for signs of infection or anything else that demands your plastic surgeon’s immediate attention. Your surgeon should provide you with a list of signs and instructions for dealing with each one.

Signs you may not be recovering well include:

  • Unusual discharge at incision points
  • Extreme nausea, vomiting or dizziness
  • Numbness or tingling elsewhere in your body
  • Severe itchiness at incisions, stitches or sutures
  • Extreme pain that persists despite pain medication
  • Irregular heart beat, chest pain or shortness of breath

Other Important Things to Remember

You will want to have someone around to help take care of your for the first few days. You will not be able to move comfortably on your own. Ideally, you will want to have a family member, significant other or friend who will be around 24/7, but if that’s not possible, then you will want to make sure to ask people to come by and check-in every couple hours.

And, be sure to check out our breast augmentation recovery tips submitted by a visitor. It explains all about what to expect during your recovery.

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