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Breast Augmentation Recovery – Your Step-by-Step Guide

Published by Dr. Brandon Richland, MD

Are you considering breast augmentation surgery, but don’t know what to expect? Breast Augmentation is a plastic procedure with a time frame of 6 to 8 weeks for a full recovery, and as a potential patient, it’s best to be prepared and understand the healing process for the surgery.

A detailed overview about healing, things you should expect, and tips for minimizing the difficulty associated with breast augmentation surgery and the recovery process.

Key Takeaways of Breast Augmentation Recovery

  • Recovery from breast augmentation surgery takes six to eight weeks on average.
  • Fatigue, bruising, swelling, soreness, and discomfort are expected for the first few days.
  • Limited movement is necessary to protect the healing incisions. Depending on specific circumstances, heavier activity can be resumed 3 to 6 weeks after, with doctor’s approval.
  • Patients should follow postoperative instructions, such as taking medications, wearing a supportive bra, and avoiding direct sunlight for optimal recovery progress.

Breast Augmentation Recuperation Timeline

Patients should expect fatigue, bruising, and swelling around the breasts after surgery. They may also experience limited arm movement with soreness and discomfort during the first days post-op. The risk of implant rupture is likely during this initial period, so it is important to take things slow.

Some degree of bleeding is expected, so monitor for any signs of infection or capsular contracture. Proper hygiene practices are also recommended to avoid such complications.

Six Weeks After Breast Augmentation Surgery

Women may experience discomfort as their bodies adjust to the presence of implants, especially during the first six weeks. This can give a sore and tender feeling in the surgical site, and sensitivity to direct contact such as wearing bras.

Patients are advised to cease strenuous activities and heavy lifting for at least 3 to 6 weeks post-op. Light exercise is okay once the swelling has sufficiently subsided.

To maximize a successful healing process during these initial weeks following reconstructive surgery, patients should strictly follow post-op instructions provided by their cosmetic surgeons.

Two Months Following Breast Augmentation Surgery

At two months post-op, the breasts will generally reach their final shape. Patients may still experience some swelling and discomfort in the chest area during this time, but it should be much less than before.

Depending on how well they follow the post-operative instructions given by their plastic surgeon, women can expect to begin resuming certain activities, such as exercise, at this stage.

Incisions from surgery may take up to one year to completely heal and fade away. During this healing phase, patients may still need additional support from a properly fitting bra which is designed specifically for comfort and appropriate control of swelling after breast augmentation consultation and procedures.

What to Expect During Breast Augmentation Recovery

Patients may experience various physical and emotional changes associated with the recovery process.

Fatigue

Fatigue is commonly experienced during recovery and should be expected for the first few days up. This is because your body undergoes a significant change and requires extra rest.

The effects of anesthesia, healing processes, and sleepless nights before the surgery can contribute to getting a very tired feeling. An undisturbed bed rest immediately following breast augmentation, offers immense relief from uneasiness caused by the swelling of the tissues affected by the incisions.

Sleeping can assist your body in recovering as it allows the immune system to reboot.

Pain Medication

Following the procedure, patients can expect to experience some discomfort in the affected area for at least a few weeks.

Use warm compresses or ice packs on the affected area to minimize swelling and bruises post-surgery. Wear an elastic sports bra or elastic band designed for women who have had breast surgeries for added support and to minimize discomfort.

Doctors may recommend taking certain medications like antihistamines or mild pain relievers to help reduce inflammation in treated areas.

Limited Movement After Breast Augmentation Procedure

Excessive movement should be avoided to protect the healing incisions while they close up, meaning no intense workouts or similarly vigorous motion for at least six weeks post-op. Doctors recommend that patients refrain from lifting anything over 10 pounds.

Limited movement typically lasts around four weeks, during which patients may find some everyday activities challenging. Still, strict adherence to doctor’s orders is critical to minimizing risks of complications, so take things slow even if it can be frustrating not being able to move much right away.

Breast Augmentation Discomfort

Breast implant recovery can be uncomfortable as it typically involves soreness, movement restriction, and temporary fatigue.

Some people experience throbbing pain after the procedure, which should reduce within a few days of surgery. The pain level varies from person to person, but most patients find it manageable with prescribed medication.

Take medications as directed, use cold compresses on sites of swelling or bruising, and get enough rest to overall minimize discomfort.

Bleeding

Blood clots are common risks after undergoing breast implant surgery. They can be caused by many factors such as anti-inflammatory medications, general wound infection complications, or increased bleeding rates due to simultaneous mastopexy and implants.

Take precautions against these risks, including avoiding taking medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen for several weeks before the procedure.

Signs that indicate excessive postoperative bleeding include increasing pain at the incision, pulsating redness on a vein within the area around the implant pocket, and swelling in the affected area accompanied by skin discoloration or warmth when touched.

Breast Implants Infection

Breast augmentation is a major surgery involving the addition of implants to enhance or enlarge the breasts, and with any surgery, there is a risk of infection. Patients must take all post-operative care instructions very seriously to reduce this risk.

Post-op infections typically occur within two weeks after surgery and can range from mild to severe. Common signs of breast implant infection may include: redness and tenderness around the incision site, fever greater than 100°F (37.8°C), foul smell coming from the wound, pus/discharge at the incisions site, persistent pain at or around the surgical area that does not subside with medication use, skin changes like dimpling or puckering along with nausea and vomiting.

Address these symptoms before complications such as abscesses develop, leading to potentially more severe conditions such as capsular contracture or implant rupture requiring further revision surgeries.

Follow-up appointments with a plastic surgeon are vital for monitoring progress during recovery by assessing incision sites closely every visit, and reporting any changes in health status which may need medical attention right away.

Capsular Contracture

Capsular contracture occurs when the body forms excess scar tissue (or capsule) around the implant. This can cause distortion and tighten the surrounding tissues; resulting in pain, firmness, tightness, or changes in the shape of breast size.

The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but factors such as bacterial contamination at the surgical site, individual healing responses, and implant placement could play a role.

Breast Implants Rupture

A ruptured silicone or saline implant is when a breach in the implant’s surface develops and the contents of the implant comes out. This can happen without any signs, resulting in what is known as a silent rupture.

There are some telltale signs to watch including changes in the shape or size of the breast, increased firmness or pain, tenderness, and swelling for weeks.

If anyone suspects an implant rupture, contact the surgeon as soon as possible. Early detection can aid the recovery processes with minimal side effects on physical health (including pain), and fixing the rupture can be done quicker.

Long-term problems potentially caused by an untreated ruptured hormonal imbalance are yet to be studied through thorough research methods.

Breast Augmentation Scarring

Scarring is a normal part of the breast augmentation recovery process.

Women can expect to have scarring at their incision sites, where the skin is opened for the insertion of implants. These scars are typically noticeable for several months after surgery and may remain visible beyond one year, depending on individual healing time frames.

Scars from breast augmentation surgery often feel lumpy or raised during the initial stages of healing. They may cause mild discomfort and usually subside as the spot recovers over time. Patients must follow their plastic surgeon’s instructions to promote optimal healing after surgery and minimize scar formation.

When scars are still fresh, choose soft clothing materials when dressing around wound sites (such as cotton rather than synthetics) and wear a supportive bra even during sleep.

Image Credit: Iyashenko  / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Tips for Minimizing Discomfort and Promoting Healing During Breast Augmentation Recuperation

Following post-op guidelines and taking simple precautions help speed up the recovery process and promote healing.

Follow Surgeon’s Instructions

Proper aftercare suggests following a doctor-approved routine, such as taking medication, doing limited physical activities, observing a strict diet schedule. This can vary depending on factors such as age, patient health, and type of surgery completed.

Not following these instructions could result in unwanted pain, swelling, and bruising that can prolong recovery time or lead to scarring or other complications.

Adhering to specific guidelines laid out by the surgeon will ensure proper healing from breast augmentation, while minimizing risk for potential issues that may affect long-term outcomes.

Take Prescribed Medications

Post-op, doctors provide a list of prescription meds for pain management, and antibiotics that protect patients while their immune system is down. Taking these as directed can help minimize discomfort, reduce swelling and bruising, prevent infection, and ensure a smooth healing process.

Pain medication is needed to manage the pain throughout the recovery process, while antibiotics lessen the risk of developing infections.

Following all instructions from the surgeon regarding which medicine should or shouldn’t be taken is critical for a quick recovery with few side effects or complications.

Apply Cold Compress

Cold therapy can help reduce swelling, bruising, and discomfort in the surgical area. It can also help prevent hematoma and relieve tightness in muscle tissue post-surgery.

Apply a cold compress to one breast for 10 minutes once an hour during the first 72 hours following breast augmentation surgery. Make sure to wrap the ice pack in a clean towel before directly applying to the skin. This helps avoid any friction or skin discoloration from direct contact with ice for prolonged periods.

Rest and Avoid Strenuous Activities

Following surgery, patients should try to limit excessive movement or physical exertion, and take frequent naps to promote a speedy recovery.

Examples of activities to be avoided during this time, especially during the first two weeks after surgery are: running, lifting heavy objects such as weights or groceries, and any type of upper body exercise that puts strain on your chest and back muscles. Avoid physically demanding jobs or taxing tasks as this will slow down healing.

Wear a Supportive Bra After Breast Implants

A surgical or supportive bra helps hold the breasts in place, providing much-needed support during healing and preventing swelling and bruising.

Wearing a post-operative support bra all day and night (including during sleep) for six weeks post-op. After six weeks, continue wearing a compression sports bra for high-impact activities to ensure the implants are well supported in the proper position.

Practice Good Hygiene

For women that choose saline implants it is recommended that skin washing with warm soapy water should be done twice daily, beginning 5 to 7 days post-surgery. Do not use abrasive cleansers that can damage or irritate the sensitive skin, like a loofah scrub. The surgeon usually gives patients specific instructions on gentle cleaning of the area around the implant.

Monitor for Any Signs of Complications

Breast implant surgery can lead to different complications including; delayed wound healing, skin loss, infection, increased scarring, fat necrosis (death of fatty tissue), fluid accumulation around the implants, or capsular contracture (hardening of the tissue surrounding the implant).

Some side effects may also be experienced such as numbness in some areas near incisions and possible asymmetry between the breasts. These occurrences are not common but may arise during the recovery period.

After a successful procedure, patients may experience long-term complications such as rupture or deflation of their implants that usually result in sagging breasts.

Follow a Healthy Diet and Stay Hydrated

Proper nutrition is needed for ensuring that the breast area of your body is getting the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs to heal quickly.

Drinking water and limiting salt intake can help reduce swelling and bruising around the incision sites, and prevent infection-causing bacteria from entering the wound during healing.

Eating nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, nuts, and seeds will ensure proper nourishment for faster wound healing. Consuming antioxidant-rich food items may speed up tissue repair and eliminate toxins. Hydrating with electrolyte-infused drinks can replenish depleted fluids. 

Image Credit: Romanzaiets / 123RF.com (Licensed).

How Long is the Recovery for Breast Augmentation?

The recovery timeline varies from patient to patient, and may range from four to six weeks or more. The first two weeks after surgery is when most discomfort and swelling are often experienced. Patients will slowly be able to move their arms, but should avoid lifting heavy objects or stretching out the chest muscles.

Breast sensitivity may start easing up around four weeks post-op, and scarring should subside by then. Some women return to work and resume normal activities at this point.

After six weeks, much of the pain should have resolved. Still, full recovery can take months as the implant settles, and other cosmetic details continue refining over time with proper self-care instructions followed closely by a medical professional.

Is Exercise Allowed After Breast Augmentation?

It is recommended to wait at least four weeks before resuming any strenuous physical activity like weight training, running, or jumping. Light walking is allowed immediately after surgery and can help with blood circulation, which can aid in the recovery process.

Most activities, such as swimming and lifting weights, are cleared by the surgeon between four to six weeks following surgery. Lower body exercises like lunges, leg presses, squats (as long as your pecs aren’t clenched), and calf raises may also be performed around this time.

Push-ups should not be attempted for at least six weeks after the breast lift procedure. There are alternative exercises such as upper chest press-downs.

Building up endurance too quickly can strain the healing process leading to increased bruising and swelling of treated areas. It’s best to take it slow.

When Can You See Results from Your Breast Augmentation?

Immediately after surgery, one may notice that the implants appear high and compressed, which is expected as the body heals and restructures around them.

Patients typically see subtle positive changes in their breast contours within one week post-op. It can take three to four months before one can fully appreciate the “result” of this cosmetic procedure.

Implant type and placement of incisions may affect how quickly a person can see results after their surgery. For example, submuscular positioning, or placing the insert under the muscle instead of over it, could produce noticeable results sooner.

Most people need at least two full months for all swelling to subside. At this time, the breasts are now positioned closer together, approximately one inch, due to the firm ligaments forming around the implants.

The entire healing process of breast augmentation includes different stages of healing, so it is best for individuals who undergo this procedure to mentally prepare themselves for an extended timeline of the recovery period.

Choosing a Plastic Surgeon for Breast Augmentation

Find a plastic surgeon who specializes in this particular procedure, as having specialized expertise will often result in better outcomes. Inquire about their involvement and experience with breast augmentation specifically. Knowing this information should give confidence that the chosen specialist has extensive knowledge and can provide satisfactory results.

Researching local surgeons online can help anyone make a list of potential surgeons. Plus, institutions like the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) offer directories with names of certified specialists across the United States, which may further narrow down prospective choices.

Frequently Asked Questions of Breast Augmentation Recovery

1. How Long is the Recovery Period After Breast Augmentation Surgery?

Most patients can resume their normal activities approximately six weeks after undergoing breast augmentation surgery. The exact time required for complete recovery varies depending on each person’s condition and body type.

2. What to Expect During Recovery Time?

The healing process following breast augmentation may involve discomfort or soreness, swelling, and sensitivity around the area where the implants were placed. You will be asked to avoid strenuous activities that could cause strain on your chest muscles, and make some lifestyle modifications to help breast tissue heal and adjust to its new size and shape.

3. Are There Any Ways to Speed Up the Recovery Process?

Here are a tips to speed up breast augmentation recovery: keep stitches clean and dry, follow a healthy diet and abstain from alcohol, wear compression garments or special surgical bras, maintain regular and active movements (while avoiding excessively strenuous activity), sleep with an extra pillow for support, and attend all scheduled post-op visits with your surgeon.

All these tips can help ensure proper results and get you back on track much faster.

4. Is There Anything to Avoid Doing After Breast Implant Procedure?

Avoid doing strenuous activities and intense workouts after surgery. It’s also best to strictly follow the advice and post-op guidelines given by your doctor to minimize risk-related complications that may cause further physical stress that will prolong recovery.

5. Can I Take Pain Medication After Breast Surgery?

Pain medication is usually prescribed by your surgeon following a surgery. You should avoid self-medicating as this can cause unwanted complications that may prolong your recovery time. If you think the prescribed meds or dosage are not positively affecting your pain level, it’s best to disclose this with your doctor so he or she can adjust treatment appropriately.

Image Credit: Yacobchuk / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Conclusion and Summary of Breast Augmentation Recovery – Your Step-by-Step Guide

The recovery period from breast surgery varies for each individual. It usually takes from 6 up to 8 weeks to recover, and patients may experience fatigue, bruising & swelling, and limited movement during this time.

Patients must follow their surgeon’s instructions on medications and lifestyle modifications to promote healing and reduce the risk of complications. Following these guidelines can help minimize any discomfort, and allows you to enjoy your beautiful new look as soon as possible.

Please note that this article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before making any changes to your treatments, please consult with your healthcare provider to discuss the appropriateness and safety of such changes.

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About the Author

Dr. Brandon Richland, MD is a respected Board Certified Licensed Plastic Surgeon in Orange County / Southern California specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries.

Driven by his passion for medicine, Dr. Richland obtained his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from the prestigious program at Saint Louis University (SLU) School of Medicine in 2013. His exceptional skills were recognized when he received the McGraw Hill / Lange Medical Student Academic Achievement Award, and graduated top of his class with Honors. For his undergraduate degree, he attended University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and graduated with Honors in 2009.

To further enhance his surgical expertise, Dr. Richland completed his Residency in Plastic Surgery at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) from 2013 to 2019 earning the Academic Achievement Award twice during this period. A total of 14 years in dedicated schooling and medical residency.

Dr. Richland is actively involved with healthcare and medical societies, as a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, and the California Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Contact Dr. Richland today by visiting RichlandMD.com, scheduling a cosmetic consultation, or by calling 714-241-0646 or 949-945-0025 directly.