Cosmetic Surgery Tips

Back Pain After Breast Augmentation Surgery

If you have been experiencing back pain after breast augmentation surgery, you are not alone. In fact, the National Institutes of Health reports that up to 65% of patients experience some kind of back pain after their procedure. While the cause is often multi-faceted, it’s important to understand what could be causing your discomfort and how you can take steps to alleviate it.

In this blog, we’ll cover:

  • The causes of back pain after breast augmentation surgery
  • How to treat back pain after breast augmentation surgery
  • The role that genetics plays in your risk for developing back pain

If you have recently undergone breast augmentation surgery, you may be wondering whether or not your lower back pain is a normal part of the recovery process. The short answer is yes—but it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Back pain after breast augmentation surgery is pretty common, and it can last anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks after the procedure. This is because most patients experience some sort of swelling in their breasts during the healing process, which can put pressure on surrounding tissue and joints, including those in the lower back. It’s also important to remember that your body is still adjusting to having implants placed inside it, so there will be some muscle soreness and stiffness as well as some fluid retention.

Throbbing Pain After Breast Augmentation

GOT A BOOB JOB – NOW I HAVE BACK PAINS

After working for many years with women who have had breast implants, many of them have complained about back pains and shoulder slouching. These pains and aches mostly result in surgeries where the implants are inserted under the muscle.

It is actually very common for women who have had breast augmentation to complain about back pains after the implant surgery, these pains usually emanate from the upper back. This is because the pectoral muscles, under which the implants are placed, are directly connected to the latissimus dorsi and other back muscles. The pain comes is when these muscles are stretched and distorted by the implants.

Due to the immense pain after the surgery, most patients find themselves using their backs, arms and abdomens differently even without realizing it. However, all these goes away with time as your body adjusts and becomes more comfortable. Medication can also be used to hasten the process of relaxing your tensed muscles and reduce pain on a short term basis.

Additionally, the natural sleeping postures that most women are used to are altered since they are advised not to lay flat their back or on their side. In days after the operation, the women are advised to sleep in somewhat propped up position which introduces harmful stresses on the back. It is also common for women who have had breast implant in the immediate past to walk with their shoulders hunched forward thus making their sore back even worse.

Lower back pains are mostly caused by your walking and sleeping postures, it is therefore important to have a massage and low impact physical therapy to help alleviate the pain.

Breast Augmentation Pain and Swelling: What’s Normal and How to Reduce It

Experiencing pain and swollen breasts after augmentation surgery is normal. Swelling is the body’s way of helping to heal tissue damage and protect the area.

On this page you’ll find out more about:

  • Breast augmentation and swelling
  • Breast augmentation and pain

Swelling After Breast Augmentation: What’s Normal

How much swelling is normal after breast augmentation?

Your breasts will feel tight after surgery and swelling will peak around three to four days later. However, you may experience some swelling for up to three months after surgery and it can take up to six months for the implants to fully settle in place.

You can expect to have more swelling if:

  • you’ve had implants under your chest muscle, as this involves making an incision in the chest muscle, as well as the breast tissue and skin, so there’s more tissue that needs to heal
  • you have large implants—this could mean the breast and muscle tissue has been stretched
  • you smoke—smoking can slow down the healing process
  • you have certain pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes

You can find out more about how to reduce the risks of surgery here.

How long does swelling last after breast augmentation surgery?

Most patients find that any swelling will have gone down by about three weeks after surgery. However, it’s normal to experience some swelling for up to three months. You can find out more about what to expect in recovery here.

Is it normal to have uneven swelling after breast augmentation surgery?

Some people experience uneven swelling in the chest after augmentation surgery and this is completely normal as it’s most likely due to the breasts healing at different rates. This will usually resolve itself within a few weeks.

However, uneven swelling could be a sign of something more serious, such as blood or fluid gathering at the wound in one of the breasts. If you’re concerned or experience significantly more pain or swelling in one side of the chest than the other, speak to your surgeon as soon as possible.

How can I reduce abdominal swelling after breast augmentation surgery?

After your operation, gravity can make the swelling in your breast tissue move down to the abdomen.

You can help reduce swelling in your abdomen by:

  • drinking plenty of water
  • walking around as soon as you feel able to do so
  • stopping or switching pain medication if your bloating is severe—narcotic painkillers can cause constipation, and it’s important you speak to your surgeon before making any changes to your pain medication
  • speaking to your surgeon about taking stool softeners if constipation is causing your stomach to bloat

Abdominal swelling is completely normal and should resolve itself within a few days. However, it’s also normal to experience bloating for a little longer as the effects of medication and lack of movement can slow digestion and cause constipation.

How can I make swelling go down after surgery?

  • Wear a supportive surgical bra as this gently compresses the breasts to reduce swelling
  • Speak to your surgeon about taking arnica supplements as this herb can be applied to the skin to treat swelling and bruising.
  • Being too active can actually aggravate the healing process, so only do gentle exercise for the first few weeks after your operation
  • If the top of your breasts still seems swollen around three months after surgery, this could be the implants themselves. It can take six months or more for implants to fully settle in place.

Find out more about how to care for your breasts after surgery with our aftercare FAQs.

Breast augmentation and pain: what’s normal

Your chest will feel tight and sore after your breast augmentation. Your ribs may also feel sore below your breasts.

Your surgeon will help you manage the initial pain after your operation either by:

  • injecting local anaesthetic into the affected area
  • administering local anaesthetic via a pain pump—this slowly and continuously delivers pain medication to where the incision was made in your breasts

Your surgeon may also prescribe muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as narcotic pain medication.

After two to three days it’s likely you’ll be able to scale down your pain medication to over-the-counter painkillers, which you can take as and when required.

As well as the initial pain from surgery, it’s also common to feel the following in your breasts or nipples:

  • Shooting pains
  • Tingling pains
  • Burning sensations
  • Numbness

These sensations can last for six to 12 months after surgery. If you’re concerned about the type or amount of pain you’re experiencing at any point, speak to your surgeon.

Breast Augmentation Pain Scale

Below is an overview of some of the types of pain you may experience and where and how soon after your operation you might feel it. You may experience this pain in either breast or both breasts.

Type of painWhere you might feel the painWhen you might feel the painPossible cause of the pain
SorenessAll over the breasts and chestIn the first 1–3 days after surgeryYour body recovering from surgery
Shooting painIn the nipplesWhere the incision was madeAll over the breastsIn the first 1–6 weeksMay last for the first 6 months or longerNerve pain caused by the nerves healing after being stretched
Stabbing painIn the nipplesWhere the incision was madeAll over the breastsIn the first 1–6 weeksMay last for the first 6 months or longerNerve pain caused by the nerves healing after being stretched
Aching painIn the back or shouldersIn the first 1–2 weeksHunching over to support your new breasts
Itching or burning sensationIn the nipplesWhere the incision was madeAll over the breastsIn the first 3–4 weeksMay last for the first 6 months or longerNerve pain caused by the nerves healing after being stretched
Tingling sensationFrom the side of the breasts to the nipplesIn the first 1–6 weeksMay last for the first 6 months or longerNerve pain caused by the nerves healing after being stretchedAir in the pocket where the implant was inserted

Not everyone will experience the above pain. If you have any concerns about the type or strength of the pain, or where you’re feeling it, contact your surgeon.

How long does the pain last after breast augmentation?

It’s normal to feel some pain in the first one to two weeks after having breast augmentation surgery. The pain will be most severe in the first few days and should gradually subside.

After six weeks, any pain or unusual sensations should have gone, although it’s fairly common for patients to experience shooting pains up to six months or more after surgery.

Some people also experience nerve pain, which can cause tingling, shooting pains, numbness or itching, particularly where the incision was made.

It can take over a year (or longer) for these sensations to disappear. This is because the nerves are often stretched during and after surgery and can take a long time to return to normal.

Is it normal to have back pain after breast augmentation?

Yes, you may experience pain in other areas of the body, such as the back and shoulders. Back and shoulder pain is most likely because you’ll naturally want to hunch over to support and protect your chest if it’s feeling tender. You should find this pain lessens as your body heals and adapts to your new breasts.

Is it normal to have a sharp pain where the incision was made?

Yes, it’s normal to have pain where the incision was made in one or both breasts, especially in the first few days after surgery. If the pain can’t be controlled with prescribed pain medication or you feel overwhelmed by it, speak to you surgeon immediately.

Is it normal to experience burning pain after a breast augmentation?

Yes, many people experience a burning sensation after having breast augmentation surgery. This happens because the nerves in the breast are stretched during surgery, and after surgery when the breasts are swollen.

The breasts are full of nerve endings so it’s extremely likely that the surgery will affect some of them. The burning sensation occurs when the nerves are regenerating and reconnecting with the area of the breast to which they normally supply feeling.

It can take up to six months or more for these shooting pains to resolve themselves.

How painful is breast augmentation under-the-muscle?

Having implants under the muscle tends to be more painful than over the muscles as your surgeon will need to make an incision in the muscle, as well as the breast tissue, to create the ‘pocket’ that your breast implant will fit inside.

You can expect to feel the most pain in the first one to three days after surgery. Your breasts and chest are likely to feel sore but you may also feel some stabbing or shooting pains. Your surgeon will prescribe you with pain medication to manage this.

You’re likely to experience less intense pain after under-the-muscle breast augmentation if you do the following:

  • Choose an experienced and highly qualified surgeon
  • Choose implants that are the right size for your frame
  • Follow your surgeon’s instructions for how to control the pain with medication

What if I find the pain unbearable?

Your surgeon will help you manage your pain so that you’re comfortable after surgery.

However, severe pain could be a sign of infection.

If you experience any of the following, contact your surgeon immediately:

  • The pain is severe and medication has no effect
  • Your breasts feel engorged or hot to the touch
  • You have a fever

If you’ve recently had breast augmentation surgery and have concerns about how much pain you’re feeling or the amount of swelling in your breasts, speak to your surgeon.

Resources

You can find out more about what to expect in recovery from breast augmentation surgery here.

If you’re considering having breast augmentation surgery, you can find out more about preparing for the operation here.

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