Breast augmentation incision healing is a topic a lot of patients struggle with. The reason for this struggle is because the wide range of information currently circling the web on this topic. There is some good information, like what you’re about to read, but also a lot of bad or outdated information which can cause more confusion than help.
Breast augmentation incision healing
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.
Breast augmentation recovery time
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.
Types of breast augmentation surgery
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.
Tips for a healthy recovery
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.
Signs that replacement or removal is necessary
The following complications may necessitate breast implant removal.
Many peopleTrusted Source develop capsular contracture, or hardened scar tissue around one or both implants.
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.
What to expect with implant removal
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.