As you begin your breast augmentation journey, it’s important to know what to expect. The recovery process can be challenging, but it’s nothing compared to the satisfaction of having your new and improved body. Here’s a timeline of what will happen from the time you wake up in recovery until you’re ready to go back to work:
Day 1 – Your surgeon will remove any stitches or surgical drains, and then instruct you on how to care for yourself over the next few days. You’ll have soreness around your incision site and may feel some discomfort when moving around.
Day 2 – You’ll start feeling better as your body begins its recovery process. You may still have some numbness around the incision site as well as some swelling around your breasts. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication if necessary.
Day 3 – By this point, most of the swelling should have gone down and any discomfort should be minimal or nonexistent. If there is still swelling present, contact your doctor immediately – they may recommend another round of compression garments or physical therapy exercises to help reduce swelling further before removing them altogether later on down the road once everything has healed properly without any further complications occurring during this period (such
Breast augmentation healing timeline
What’s It Like to Recover from Breast Augmentation Surgery?
Breast augmentation is a surgery that increases the size of a person’s breasts. It’s also known as augmentation mammoplasty.
In most surgeries, implants are used to enhance breast size. Fat from another part of the body can also be used, but this method is less common.
People typically get this surgery to:
- enhance physical appearance
- reconstruct the breast after a mastectomy or another breast surgery
- adjust uneven breasts due to surgery or another condition
- increase breast size after pregnancy or breastfeeding
People seeking male-to-female or male-to-nonbinary top surgery might also get breast augmentation.
Generally, recovery takes about 6 to 8 weeks. It may take more time depending on how you heal and your overall health. Every person is different, so it’s best to talk to a surgeon if you’re concerned about the recovery process.
Read on to learn about what you can expect during breast augmentation recovery.
In most cases, recovery lasts about 6 to 8 weeks. Here’s what the timeline may look like:
Immediately after surgery
Most breast augmentation surgeries involve general anesthesia. This means you’re asleep during the procedure.
Once the surgery is done, you’ll be transferred to a recovery room. You’ll slowly wake up as a team of medical professionals monitors you. You’ll likely feel achy and groggy.
If the implants were placed under the pectoralis muscle, you may experience tightness or muscle aches in the area. As the muscles stretches and relaxes, the pain will decrease.
Hours after surgery
After a few hours, you’ll feel less sore and sleepy.
You can usually go home after several hours, but you’ll need someone to drive you.
Before you leave, your surgeon will wrap your breasts with a bra or elastic band. This will support your breasts during recovery. Your surgeon will also explain how to care for your incision sites.
3 to 5 days
During the first 3 to 5 days, you’ll likely experience the most discomfort. Your doctor will have prescribed medication to help control the pain.
You might have minor bleeding at the incision sites. This is normal. But if you’re concerned about any bleeding, talk to your surgeon.
As you approach 1 week, you may be able to manage the pain with over-the-counter pain medications.
The pain should be minimal after the first week.
With your surgeon’s approval, you can gradually return to light daily activities.
Next few weeks
During this time, you’ll still have some soreness and swelling. But it should slowly get better.
If you have a physically demanding job, you’ll need to be out of work for 3 weeks or more. You’ll also need to avoid heavy lifting and intense physical activities, like running.
After about 2 months, you should be nearing full recovery, though this depends on how well your body heals.
Your doctor will let you know if you can resume normal activities.
As with all types of surgery, breast augmentation poses potential complications.
General surgery complications include scarring, wound infections, and bleeding problems, like blood loss. It’s also possible to go into shock or develop issues related to blood clots.
Anesthesia can also trigger an allergic reaction, but this is rare.
Complications specific to breast augmentation include:
- scarring that changes the breast shape
- asymmetrical breasts
- breast pain
- breast numbness
- undesired or poor cosmetic results
- nipple changes in appearance
- breast or nipple sensation changes
- breast cellulitis
- breasts appear to merge (symmastia)
- incorrect position of implant
- implant is seen or felt through the skin
- skin wrinkling over the implant
- fluid accumulation (seroma)
- scarring around the implant (capsular contracture)
- implant leak or break
- breastfeeding problems
- breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma
- breast implant illness
To heal some of these complications, you may need surgery to replace or remove the implants.
On average, breast implants last about 10 years before the shell ruptures or leaks. You’ll eventually need surgery to replace or remove them.
There are two main kinds of breast augmentation:
- Cosmetic breast implants. A silicone or saline implant is inserted behind the breast tissue or below the pectoralis, or pushup, muscle.
- Reconstructive surgery. If your breasts were removed in another surgery, breast implants or fat tissue from another part of the body can be used to rebuild them.
Breast augmentation can be combined with a breast lift, or mastopexy. This surgery changes the shape of your breasts, but it doesn’t alter the size.
Successful breast augmentation depends on how well you heal. To increase the chances of a smooth recovery, you can:
- Wear recovery bras. Follow your doctor’s instructions. Recovery bras provide support and manage pain and swelling.
- Care for your incisions. Depending on your surgeon’s preference, you may have to wear a bandage or apply ointment. Always follow the directions.
- Take your medication. During the first week, pain medication will help you feel more comfortable. If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take the entire course.
- Prepare your home before surgery. Before the procedure, finish any housework and meal prep. You’ll need to rest when you’re back home in recovery.
- Wear loose clothes. Loose-fitting, breathable clothes will help you feel more comfortable.
- Avoid intense activity. Strenuous movement can delay the healing process.
- Eat nutritious foods. A healthy diet will help your body recover. Consume lots of lean protein, fruits, and vegetables.
How to find a surgeon
The most important part of preparing for breast augmentation is choosing the right surgeon. This ensures your safety and overall success of the surgery.
When selecting a surgeon, look for:
- Board certification. Pick a plastic surgeon who’s certified by a board under the American Board of Medical Specialties, or more specifically, the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The surgeon should specialize in breast augmentation.
- Cost. Be cautious of extremely inexpensive options. While budget and cost certainly matter, it’s best to prioritize your safety and comfort.
- Patient results. Read testimonials from people who’ve had the procedure. Look at before and after photos.
- Customer service. Take note of how the surgeon and staff make you feel during the consultation.
Visit the American Society of Plastic Surgeons website to find a board-certified plastic surgeon near you.
Breast augmentation recovery usually takes 6 to 8 weeks. It might be longer if you develop complications, like an infection or implant leak.
To ensure a smooth recovery, follow your surgeon’s instructions. Wear the recovery bra, and care for your incision sites as directed. Be sure to get plenty of rest and eat a healthy diet. In about 8 weeks, you should be fully recovered and ready to resume normal activities.
How Long Do Breast Implants Last?
What’s the average duration?
Although breast implants don’t actually expire, they aren’t guaranteed to last a lifetime. The average saline or silicone implants may last anywhere from 10 to 20 years.
However, many are removed sooner due to complications or cosmetic concerns. Up to 20 percent of people have their implants removed or replaced within 8 to 10 years.
Wondering if it’s time to have yours replaced? Read on to find out symptoms to watch for, what you can expect from removal, and more.
The following complications may necessitate breast implant removal.
This can also cause tightness, pain, tenderness, and abnormal cosmetic changes to the breast.
In some cases, hardening may happen more than once to the same breast.
Saline rupture (leakage and deflation)
If a saline breast implant ruptures because of a tear or hole in the implant’s shell, it will begin to deflate like a balloon.
The saline in your implant will leak out and get reabsorbed by your body. This leak can happen all at once or slowly over the course of a few days.
The deflation may not become obvious until all of the saline leaks out. The affected breast will lose its size and shape and look dramatically different from your other breast.
Breast implant ruptures are rareTrusted Source in the first few years, but the risk does increase over time.
Silicone rupture (silent rupture)
Silicone implants can also rupture.
Silicone gel is much thicker than saline. When a silicone implant ruptures, the gel will often stay inside the implant or surrounding scar tissue.
Because of this, ruptured silicone implants often go unnoticed. That’s why silicone ruptures are also known as silent ruptures.
Most peopleTrusted Source don’t experience any symptoms. When symptoms are present, they can include:
- decreased breast size
- hard knots
- an uneven appearance of the breasts
- pain or tenderness
- changes in sensation
Although the exact rate of silicone rupture is unknown, it’s estimated to be somewhere between 2 and 12 percentTrusted Source.
Some implants rupture immediately, some after several years, and others after 10 years or more.
Rippling and palpability
Rippling occurs when the implant develops wrinkles or ripples. Palpability refers to the ability to feel these ripples when you touch your breast. In some cases, these changes can also be seen through the skin.
If you see or feel wrinkling in your implant, you may want to consider replacing or removing it.
Change in position
Breast implants don’t prevent your breasts from sagging as you age. Gravity is still going to take its toll. Weight gain and loss can also cause stretching and sagging of the breasts.
You may also notice that one breast hangs lower than the other, or that your nipples point in different directions than before.
If you’re bothered by these changes, getting a breast lift or implant replacement may help return your breasts to their previous appearance.
Any qualified plastic surgeon can remove your breast implants. It doesn’t need to be the same surgeon who did your first surgery.
During an initial consultation, the surgeon you choose will evaluate the state of your current implants and discuss your surgical options.
Depending on your preferences, your surgeon can do any of the following:
- implant removal alone
- implant removal and breast lift
- removal of hardened or lumpy tissue
- implant replacement with or without breast lift
Sometimes, implant removal alone can lead to cosmetic abnormalities. This includes:
Because of this, your doctor may recommend replacing your implants with implants of a different size or shape.
Depending on the specifics of your procedure, you may be able to return home the day of your surgery. Recovery time differs for everyone.
Many people are able to resume working in about five days, but it’ll be about six weeks until you can resume strenuous activities like exercising and lifting.
Following all postoperative instructions can help improve your healing time and prevent infection.
What to expect with implant replacement
Implant replacement is a procedure in which your doctor switches out your implants for a newer model. Whether you stick to the same type, size, and shape is up to you,
The procedure may also be combined with a breast lift or scar tissue removal.
The cost of implant replacement is higher than that of implant removal. You’ll need to pay for the initial removal, replacement implants, and any related procedures.
Depending on your procedure package and geographic location, your overall out-of-pocket cost may be anywhere from $2,500 to $7,000.
How to increase implant longevity
One of the most commonlyTrusted Source cited reasons for removal is unhappiness with the implant size and shape.
It’s natural for tastes to change over the course of a lifetime. One of the best ways to make your implants last is to pick a size and shape that you feel like you can live with for 10 to 20 years.
In other cases, local complications are to blame. Ruptures and deflations, for example, oftenTrusted Source result from normal wear and tear or surgical error.
For the best outcomes:
- Choose your surgeon carefully.
- Follow all postoperative instructions.
- Get regular MRIs to check for silicone ruptures.
The bottom line
Implants aren’t guaranteed to last a lifetime. You may need to have them removed or replaced for a variety of reasons.
The best way to ensure their longevity is to work with a board-certified plastic surgeon and follow all postoperative instructions.
Everything You Need to Know About Gummy Bear Breast Implants
Gummy bear breast implants are one of the options available for breast augmentation. The term “gummy bear” is actually a nickname for these teardrop-shaped, gel-based implants. They’re known to retain their shape better than other types of breast implants made from saline and silicone.
Introduced in the mid-2000sTrusted Source, gummy bear, also known as highly cohesive gel, breast implants are the result of an evolved product that’s technically been around for more than a century.
You may be a good candidate for this surgery if you want more volume in your breasts without the extreme shape of other implants. This procedure isn’t approved for women who are pregnant or nursing. Silicone implants are also only approved for those ages 22 or older.
What are gummy bear implants made of?
A breast implant contains an outer silicone shell and a filler material. Most breast implants contain either silicone gel or saline solution.
Gummy bear breast implants have both a silicone shell and a silicone gel filling. Their advantage, compared with other silicone implants, is that gummy bear implants retain their shape but also leave breasts naturally soft to the touch.
Unlike traditional silicone-based breast implants, gummy bear implants retain their shape even if their shells are broken. This is because the gel is thicker.
Another popular type of breast implant is saline-based. Unlike thick gummy bear and traditional silicone gel implants, saline breast implant shells are filled with salt solution, or saline.
Are gummy bear implants safe?
After years of evaluation, breast implants are considered safe. Your doctor will order regular screenings to make sure your implants remain in the right place and haven’t ruptured.
In the past, breast implants carried a greater risk of rupture and related complications. When ruptured, gel material could ooze out of the shell and into the surrounding tissue.
Due to their strength, gummy bear implants are less likely to rupture and leak compared with other silicone gel and saline forms. The risk, however, is that if gummy bear implants do leak, it’s harder to detect the leak than with saline implants. This is why screenings are important to detect any problems. For silicone implants, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source recommends surveillance MRIs 3 years after they are placed and every 2 years thereafter.
Gummy bear implants pros and cons
Like other types of breast implants, the overall goal of gummy bear implants is to improve shape and size. One downside to this type of breast augmentation is that the surgeon may have to make a longer incision, which can increase the risk of visible scarring.
Breast augmentation doesn’t address droopiness. If this is your primary concern, you may want to talk to a surgeon about a breast lift instead.
Round versus teardrop-shaped implants
Traditional saline and silicone implants tend to offer a round shape. There won’t be any problems if the implants rotate at some point in the future, as most implants tend to do.
Gummy bear implants are teardrop-shaped. They’re also thicker or denser compared with the other two popular types of implants. This option may be preferable if you’re seeking less fullness in the upper part of your breast, as well as a more natural droop to the bottom half. However, it will be more noticeable if the implants rotate out of place since they aren’t the same shape on all sides.
To prevent the rotating or shifting of these shaped implants, the shell of the gummy bear implant is typically textured, which allows the tissue around it to grow into it, somewhat like Velcro.
These shaped, textured implants have been shown to have a lower rate of a complication called capsular contracture. This occurs when the tissue around the breast implant gets abnormally tight or thick, causing asymmetry, pain, and an unpleasant appearance. Capsular contracture is one of the most common surgical complications related to breast augmentation and is a common reason for reoperation.
Gummy bear implants cost
Breast augmentation procedures aren’t typically covered by insurance. Instead, they’re paid out-of-pocket. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the national average for breast augmentation procedures was $3,718 in 2017.
Gummy bear implants are far more expensive. One provider offers an estimate between $6,000 to $12,000. Factors include your doctor, their technique, and office location.
It’s also important to keep in mind that there may be other costs related to gummy bear breast implants outside of the actual surgery. These include hospital and anesthesia fees, as well as the clothing items you’ll need during recovery. It’s a good idea to verify all of these costs ahead of time.
You’ll also need to factor in recovery time. It can take up to several weeks to fully recover from the surgery.
While gummy bear implants have noteworthy results, there are risks associated with any procedure. All breast augmentation surgeries carry the risk for:
- nipple sensation changes
- rupturing of the implant
- nausea and vomiting from anesthesia
- wrinkling of breast tissues
Other serious side effects have been reported, including severe nausea, back pain, and weight loss.
In 2011, the FDA found a linkTrusted Source between breast implants and a type of rare cancer known as breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma. The exact causes of this cancer aren’t understood but textured implants may be linked to more cases than smooth implants.
It’s also important to know that the results from breast implants aren’t permanent. Aside from the risk of implant rupturing, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons notes that breast implants aren’t made to last for life. You’ll likely need surgery to replace them in the future. On average, women replace or remove implants after 10 yearsTrusted Source. The longer you have breast implants, the more likely you’ll experience side effects in the future.
A stable body weight is preferable before you have this type of surgery. Any significant changes in your weight can change the appearance of your breasts.
The teardrop shape of gummy bear implants is an option if you don’t want the roundness of other implants. However, these do carry a risk of rotation at some point. If this happens, your breasts can have an irregular shape until your surgeon either fixes the implants or replaces them.
Gummy bear implants are believed to be more durable and might last longer than alternatives. Still, this durability comes at a cost, as gummy bear implants are more expensive than their other silicone- and saline-based counterparts. They also aren’t risk-free so it’s important to find an experienced, reputable surgeon.
Can Breast Implants Make You Sick?
Getting breast implants can change a person’s life for the better. But in recent years, some people have suspected that their breast implants have made them very ill with diseases such as:
Older studies showed no clear scientific evidence connecting these conditions to breast implants — silicone or saline-filled. However, newer studies from different sources have found an association between silicone breast implants and certain autoimmune diseases.
These studies suggest that silicone breast implants potentially raise your risk of developing an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, scleroderma, and sarcoidosis.
On the other hand, another sourceTrusted Source notes that the FDA is not able to say there’s a direct relationship between silicone implants and autoimmune diseases.
The same source notes that other experts don’t think the evidence is strong enough at this time to conclusively show an association between these breast implants and autoimmune disease.
The World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have identified another possible cause for concernTrusted Source. This relates breast implants to a rare cancer called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).
Additionally, breast implants are known to cause other potential risks such as:
- breast pain
- sensory changes
- implant leakage or rupture
What causes BIA-ALCL?
Scientists say the exact causes of BIA-ALCL aren’t well understood. However, it does appear that textured implants are associated with more cases of BIA-ALCL than smooth implants.
Scientists say this could be due to the fact that textured implants have a greater surface area on which a bacterial infection can form. Infections could trigger a type of immune response that ultimately, in very rare cases, results in BIA-ALCL.
Regardless of implant type, smooth or textured, it’s essential to prevent infection. Infection is a much more common illness related to breast implants. Any surgery comes with infection risks, including breast augmentation. Infections can occur when a surgery site isn’t kept clean or if bacteria enters your breast during surgery.
Besides infection, other complications associated with breast implants may occur. These include:
- blood clots
- skin necrosis
- slowed wound healing
- scar tissue buildup (capsular contracture)
- implant deflation and rupture
- change in breast shape, volume, or sensation
- thinning of your breast tissue and skin
- calcium deposits
- breast discomfort
- nipple discharge
- dropping or bottoming out of the implant
- need for further surgery
What are the symptoms of breast implant illness?
BIA-ALCL is often contained inside the tissue surrounding the implant. However, it can spread to other parts of your body’s lymphatic system, including the lymph nodes. The main symptoms include:
- continuous swelling or pain around your breast implant, which may occur long after a surgical incision has healed or many years after implants are inserted
- fluid collection around your breast implant
- capsular contracture, which can cause a lump under your skin or thick scar tissue around the implant resulting in a misshapen appearance
Symptoms of other breast implant complications vary. As noted above, infection is one complication associated with BIA-ALCL. It’s important to treat any breast implant complications that arise. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor right away:
- change in breast shape or color
Regarding autoimmune symptoms to look for, one studyTrusted Source notes that silicone breast implants can cause symptoms of autoimmune diseases in some patients. These symptoms include:
- cognitive impairment
- arthralgias, myalgias
- dry eyes
- dry mouth
Silicone also has the potential to leak from the implant throughout the body, possibly leading to a chronic inflammatory condition.
If you experience any of the connective tissue inflammatory symptoms above, let your doctor know.
How is breast implant illness diagnosed?
BIA-ALCL is classified as a T-cell lymphoma. It may develop following the surgical insertion of breast implants.
T-cell lymphomas are cancers that form in your T cells, a type of immune system white blood cell. These cancers tend to be fast growing per the American Cancer SocietyTrusted Source. The outlook for a person diagnosed with BIA-ALCL depends on the stage of their cancer at diagnosis and how aggressive it is.
Half of all reported cases of BIA-ALCL are reported within 7 to 8 yearsTrusted Source of the insertion of breast implants. Because the symptoms of BIA-ALCL are relatively nonspecific, experts say these diagnoses may be complicated and delayed.
But as scientific knowledge about it has grown in recent years, experts have begun to establish diagnosis standards.
When a doctor suspects BIA-ALCL, they’ll run a variety of tests to rule out any other causes of your symptoms. These tests may include:
- An ultrasound-guided aspiration of fluid that’s collected around your breast implant. A cancerous T cell presence in this fluid can tip off your doctor to BIA-ALCL.
- Thick scarring that’s apparent around your implant.
- If an abnormal breast mass is found, your doctor may test the tissue for lymphoma using a biopsy.
For autoimmune disease, various blood tests can be performed. These are done alongside a thorough history and physical examination. Doctors look for the clinical symptoms and signs occurring for each individual. Depending on the type and location of inflammatory symptoms, imaging testing may be of use as well.
How are breast implant illnesses treated?
If you’re diagnosed with BIA-ALCL, your doctor will recommend a PET-CT scan. This imaging test checks for signs of lymphoma in other parts of your body. This cancer, while rare, may be aggressive and can spread.
For most people with BIA-ALCL that’s confined to the tissues surrounding one or both breasts, surgical removal of one or both implants is necessary. With an earlier stage 1 diagnosis, implant removal is typically enough to stop the progression of the disease.
However, for cancer at stage 2 or higher that’s spread, more aggressive treatment is necessary. In addition to implant removal, chemotherapy may be able to slow or stop disease progression.
Other complications associated with breast implants are typically treated on a symptom-by-symptom basis. Antibiotics are often used to treat infection, though in severe cases, surgery might be necessary to remove the implants that have caused infection.
Regarding potential autoimmune response, one study noted that for 75 percentTrusted Source of patients affected, removal of their silicone breast implants provided significant relief of systemic symptoms. Symptoms included arthralgia, myalgia, fatigue, and neurological symptoms, during an observation period of 14 months following removal of the implants.
However, making a diagnosis and forming a treatment plan — whether medical or surgical — needs to be a well-thought-out process between a patient and their doctor.
How can you prevent a breast implant illness?
The survival rate for people with BIA-ALCL is relatively high at 89 percent at 5 years, in general for any stage of this cancer. The survival rate is even higher for people with stage 1 cancer who have a complete removal of their affected implant or implants and cancerous breast tissues.
However, cancer treatment is challenging, expensive, and not always effective.
Although there are risks associated with breast augmentation, it’s still considered a safe procedure. Before your procedure, make sure you understand your risks for complications. Keep in mind that the risk for BIA-ALCL is exceedingly rare.
Regarding the risk for autoimmune disease, recent research shows an association with breast implants, silicone in particular. However, the conclusiveness of the data is controversial and will likely require further studies to more specifically investigate and pinpoint a definite direct cause-and-effect relationship.
To minimize your risk for infection, implant rupture, and breast cancer illness, closely monitor your breasts after your procedure. Follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions closely. See your doctor right away if you notice any changes in your breasts or health, especially if you experience signs of infection.