Breast Augmentation Recovery Day By Day
Breast augmentation is a procedure that can be used to improve the shape and size of your breasts. The procedure involves inserting an implant into the breast tissue to increase their size, or reshaping them with fat or other tissue. Because breast augmentation is a surgical procedure, it’s important to know what to expect during recovery.
Recovery from a breast augmentation can take between two and four weeks, depending on how soon you feel comfortable returning to normal activities. It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully during this time so that you don’t risk complications such as infection or bleeding.
What To Expect During Your First Week After Surgery:
During the first week after surgery, most women experience some soreness in their breasts and armpits (where they received injections). You may also notice bruising around these areas as well as swelling which can cause discomfort in both places. You’ll be given prescriptions for pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen which should help with any discomfort you may feel after surgery; however make sure not take more than one dose every four hours (unless otherwise instructed by your doctor). Additionally, there are many other over-the-counter medications available that can help reduce swelling; however check
Breast Augmentation Recovery Day By Day Blog
What to expect after your breast augmentation surgery
Small or large, round or narrow, side set, teardrop or asymmetrical, breasts come in any number of shapes and sizes. But for those who aren’t happy with the breasts they were naturally dealt, breast augmentation has long offered an opportunity to change them.
As one of the most consistently popular cosmetic procedures of recent decades, breast augmentation has come a long way since the experimental surgeries of the early 20th century and since the advent of breast implants in 1961. The operation is among the most recognizable examples of plastic surgery and has come to play a pivotal role in shaping the cultural understanding of the space for many years. Yet, even as roughly 200,000 Americans underwent breast augmentation in 2020 alone, confusion persists around its recovery process, and many patients remain unsure of what to expect after the procedure.
How long does recovery take following breast augmentation?
While recovery time can greatly differ depending on the specifics of your procedure, your health, and after-care, there is a general timeline that often rings true for breast augmentation.
“Depending on the technique used, recovery can be three weeks (with subglandular augmentation, my preference) or three months (with submuscular technique, which is much more painful and involves cutting your pectoralis major muscles and stretching them over an implant),” explains Karen Horton, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in San Francisco and ASPS member.
Is there anything you should avoid before surgery to minimize recovery time?
Contrary to popular belief, recovery actually starts before you even have your breast augmentation. Although patients aren’t at all limited in their physical activity in the days and weeks leading up to the surgery, there are certain medications and supplements that should be avoided.
“The main offenders for increasing bleeding and bruising with surgery are anti-inflammatories,” Dr. Horton says, referring to aspirin, ibuprofen, and the like. There are also a number of vitamins and supplements, like vitamin E, fish oil, ginkgo biloba, and garlic, that you should avoid for two weeks before (and after) surgery. “In concentrated forms, they can increase bleeding in some studies.”
What is the first week of recovery like?
As with any surgery, breast augmentation carries different points of recovery in the days, weeks, and months that follow. Immediately following the operation, rest and icing will be top priority.
“Ice is your best friend in terms of keeping swelling down and helping to control the pain, and that’s the process I do with my patients now,” says Anureet Bajaj, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and an ASPS member.
Drains can significantly speed up recovery time, as they remove wound fluid rather than forcing the body to absorb it, but in most breast augmentation surgeries, they are not needed.
“After a breast augmentation, most women don’t have any drains, and the incisions are all healed,” says Dr. Bajaj. “So, theoretically, there shouldn’t be a whole lot to deal with.” The one thing that may come up, however, is itchiness around the incisions during the first 24 to 48 hours.
And although it’s natural to think of bedrest as necessary in the first few days following surgery, Dr. Bajaj says this is not actually the best course of action after breast augmentation.
“I think the conception of being bed-ridden or on bed rest can be misleading because you really want to be up and about and walking,” she notes. “It makes you feel better because it keeps the blood moving. The more sedentary and stiffer you are, the more you almost freeze up, and the more painful it is.”
It may sound ambitious, but according to Dr. Bajaj, it should only take between three to five days to get past this first stage of recovery.
“Typically, with breast augmentation, most people should be able to glide within three to five days. And if you have a desk job, you should be able to go back to work within three to five days,” she says. “So, if things are done appropriately, it’s very reasonable to be able to do that.”
To be on the safe side, though, it may be wise to plan for up to a week.
“I recommend one week off of work for subglandular augmentation and longer if the muscles were operated on (i.e. revision surgery) or if the patient has a physically demanding job (firefighter, police officer, nurse, surgeon),” Dr. Horton advises.
How much pain can you expect?
The pain experienced after breast augmentation is subjective and will depend on a variety of factors, but it can be helpful to have a rough idea of what to expect.
“From what I remember, the pain and discomfort wasn’t like a sharp pain,” Dr. Bajaj recalls of her own breast augmentation. “I remember feeling like I had done 150 pushups and that my chest was just really sore. To me, it felt like muscle soreness after the biggest workout of your life, and that’s how I describe it to my patients.” She warns her patients that they will feel especially sore the morning after the operation and that when they first wake up, they aren’t going to want to move.
Many women who’ve undergone breast augmentation also report feeling some muscle soreness whenever they move or raise their arms in the days after surgery. “Your pectoralis is connected to your humorous, so any time you move your arm, you may feel some soreness in your chest,” says Dr. Bajaj. You also may experience a burning sensation around incisions in the immediate aftermath, but this should subside fairly quickly.
When can you return to normal activity?
It takes only about a week to heal enough from surgery to return to work (if an office job) and most activity, but there are certain things, namely exercise, that require waiting a bit longer.
“I usually tell patients they can start working out at about three weeks post-op, and that means legs and arms but no chest,” Dr. Bajaj explains. “I remember the first time I went running again, it was about two weeks after surgery, and I felt like my breasts were going to fall off my chest. So, I tell my patients that when they first start doing any type of cardio that’s really bouncy, that’s what it will feel like, and they might want to wear two bras.”
And although you may be super excited to show off your new breasts in a cute bra, you will be somewhat limited on the type.
“I put my patients in a surgical bra that they wear for two weeks, and then after that, I tell them to wear any sports bra or bra without an underwire,” says Dr. Bajaj. “I don’t let them wear an underwire bra for about two to three months until the implants have settled.”
Generally speaking, it’s best to listen to your body and see what feels right. “There are no long-term restrictions after surgery – or at least there shouldn’t be,” Dr. Horton adds. “Some surgeons do recommend stopping using your pec muscles if implants are under the muscle, but really, how on earth do you do that?”
What kind of scarring can you expect?
Any surgery comes with a scar or two, and breast augmentation is no exception. But thanks to modern advances in technique and technology, they can be extremely minimal.
“They’re usually a fine line initially, and they’ll go through an inflammatory stage where they’re fine red lines, then they’ll fade,” Dr. Bajaj explains. “But most scars will fade by a year, and if they’re underneath the breast, it takes a lot of effort to try to see them. Most of my patients don’t even mention it.”
Will you need to have implants replaced in the future?
If your breast augmentation includes implants, you may be wondering if you’re signing up for a lifetime of surgery to replace them. But in simple terms, this isn’t necessarily the case.
“No implants are going to last forever, and when an implant needs to be replaced depends on the wear and tear of that implant, and the risk of rupture is related to how old it is,” Dr. Bajaj says.
“You don’t need to replace an implant unless there’s a problem with it. If it’s saline, you’ll know it’s ruptured because it will be deflated, and if it’s silicone, you’ll know it’s ruptured if you get an ultrasound or mammogram,” the Oklahoma-based surgeon explains. “The other reason people get implants replaced or removed is if they want to change size, if they want to change from saline to silicone or vice versa, or if they’ve gained weight or lost weight and need to do something else to make things look good.”
How can you manage your expectations?
Even once you know what to expect from your breast augmentation, it’s important that you manage those expectations throughout your surgery and recovery. Keep in mind that your breasts won’t find their final resting place until about two months after surgery, so don’t worry if implants are sitting especially high or you’re doubting the shape. You may also experience heightened sensation, particularly around the nipples, in the weeks and months following your operation, because your nerves are being stretched and irritated, but it should subside soon after.
“I think the most important thing is to be patient,” Dr. Bajaj says. “As humans, we want instantaneous results, and we want to look perfect the very next day, but recovery from any surgery will take six months to a year before you’re completely back to normal and you feel like your breasts are fully a part of you.”
BREAST AUGMENTATION RECOVERY TIMELINE
UNDERSTANDING YOUR BREAST AUGMENTATION RECOVERY TIMELINE
At Cruise Plastic Surgery, we know how important it is to understand what to expect when recovering from breast augmentation surgery. It can be overwhelming to think about recovering from surgery and all the steps you’ll need to take. Conversely, it can be easy to simply focus on your results and gloss over the important recovery process.
For these reasons, it’s important to spend time learning about your recovery and the different phases that come in the weeks after breast augmentation. This not only allows you to properly plan your schedule, but also helps prevent surprises and unnecessary stress. Here’s what to know about your breast augmentation recovery timeline.
Breast Implant Recovery Timeline
It can be helpful to know what to expect after your procedure, but it can be difficult to find specific information about the weeks and months after breast augmentation. The more you know about your recovery schedule, the more you can plan accordingly.
Take a look at our healing progression timeline with breast augmentation recovery photos showing you a typical breast augmentation healing process.
Below you will find more information about what can typically be expected following breast augmentation surgery.
1 Day After Surgery
- Implants look high and compressed
- Breasts are very firm and tight
- Nipples will most likely appear very low and may point downward
- There will be very little side rounding or bottom breast rounding
- This is typically the phase where breasts look like pecs. This means they are squared at the top, don’t show much outward projection, and have little to no fullness at the bottom
- Breastbone is swollen
- Breasts have mild to moderate bruising
- Necessary to wear a non-support athletic bra 24/7, except while showering
- Dr. Cruise will prescribe pain medication to reduce discomfort during this time
1 week after breast augmentation
- Implants will still be high and compressed, but may have a little more projection
- Breast tissue will still be firm and tight
- Nipples will still appear low
- Breasts will have slightly more bottom rounding and still no side rounding
- Swelling on the breastbone should be mild or nonexistent
- Bruising will be mild or nonexistent
- Breasts will still resemble pecs more than natural breasts
- You can begin sleeping flat on your back but not on your sides yet
- You may start feeling an itching or burning sensation— this is normal
- You may begin walking (even brisk walks) as early as a couple of days after surgery. Be sure to monitor for increased pain and swelling. If this happens, give yourself more time to heal and try again in a few days or so.
2-3 weeks after breast augmentation
- Implants will still be high, but will start to become less compressed
- Breasts are still firm, but not quite as tight
- Natural scar tissue has almost fully formed around the capsule
- Nipples may still be low, but will start to elevate upwards
- Bottom rounding is becoming more pronounced, but the breasts are still much more rounded at the top
- Very little side rounding, if any yet
- Bruising is typically gone
- You may notice more shooting pains and itching
- You may notice one breast dropping faster than the other breast. Asymmetry issues may be obvious, but this is normal
- Your implants may begin dropping at this point, but this varies by patient
- You will start being evaluated for bra management
- You may begin additional physical activity. Biking, walking, and lower body workouts are acceptable, but without bouncing. Stop if your normal activities become painful or increase swelling in your breasts
6 weeks after breast augmentation
- Your enhanced breast size looks more natural and is taking on a more attractive appearance
- Breasts are starting to soften, but could still be firm on the sides
- Nipples are rising slowly to the center of the breasts. They may not be perfect at this stage, but should have good improvement.
- Side breast rounding is slowly beginning, but is not pronounced
- Shooting pains may still be present, but are less frequent
- Muscle aches may occur as you reengage chest and shoulder muscles
- One breast could still appear higher than the other. Asymmetry is normal.
- You will again be evaluated for bra management at each appointment with Dr. Cruise
- It’s okay to sleep on your side, but stomach sleeping is not recommended
- You will most likely be able to comfortably wear a bathing suit or strapless dress
- Incisions should be completely closed. If so, you can go into the water fully submerged. Make sure the incisions have been closed for a minimum of 1 week.
8-9 weeks after breast augmentation
- Breasts are looking much better, but will likely not be 100%
- Breasts are softer than before, but may still need more time to settle
- Nipples are in a good position, but may still be slightly low and uneven from side to side
- Side rounding becomes more pronounced at each visit
- Bottom rounding fills in and becomes more pronounced
- Bra management will be evaluated at each appointment
- One breast may still be slightly higher than the other, but should be slowly improving
- Depending on how you are healing, you may be cleared to increase your physical activity to include running, high impact activities, and upper body work outs. Ask Dr. Cruise for specific surgeon’s instructions.
12 weeks after breast augmentation
- Breasts will have a nice, attractive shape. You may be almost completely healed at this point. However, some patients may still need a month or two for further softening and implant dropping.
- Breasts continue to soften, and swelling is almost gone
- Nipples should be almost centered, if not already
- Side rounding is good, but may not be perfect depending on your muscles and tissues. Some patients round over a 6-month period.
- Bottom rounding is much more noticeable, but will continue to improve
- Surgical tape is no longer needed on incisions. You can begin Scarless scar gel treatment
- Upper body workouts and running are now okay. Heavy lifting may be acceptable as well. Be sure to wear a fitted sports bra with support.
- Bra management evaluation continues
6 months after breast augmentation
- Breasts will be in optimal position
- Breasts will be much softer to the touch
- Side and bottom rounding have good definition
- Continue to use Scarless scar gel on incisions, if needed
- Underwire bras are recommended for most patients at this point
- Fitted support athletic bra will still be recommended during high-impact activity
When Should I Schedule My Breast Augmentation?
This breast augmentation timeline can help you make an informed decision about when to have surgery. All of these factors should be taken into consideration when making plans, and it can be helpful to think about what works best for you, as well as for anyone who will be helping you during the healing process. This can help you plan the ideal time for your breast augmentation and recovery.
There are many important factors that go into choosing when to have breast augmentation. Timing is just one of them. Here is a brief list of things you’ll want to take into consideration when planning for breast augmentation:
- If you work, how much time can you take off? Is there a better time of year to take off than another?
- What type of work do you do (desk job or something more physical)? This will be a factor when determining when you will be ready to go back to work.
- Is there someone available to help you the first few days after surgery and do they need to take time off work?
- Are you trying to have breast augmentation in time for a big event (i.e. wedding, vacation, reunion, etc.)? If this is the case, give yourself more time rather than less time to recover. If you plan to wear a strapless dress or clothing that is revealing, 6 weeks is likely the earliest you will look acceptable, but 3-4 months is optimal.
- Do you want to have surgery before summer arrives? Most patients choose to have surgery at the beginning of summertime, but they don’t realize that they need to start planning months in advance. Winter or early spring is the best time to have breast augmentation if you want to be completely healed and bikini-ready by summer.
The Importance of Breast Augmentation Consultations
Dr. Cruise can discuss all the relevant factors at length during your initial consultation so you understand your timeline and plans for recovery. He can also answer important questions about how long until the swelling goes down after breast augmentation, when you can return to your normal schedule, and how long you can expect to take off work after breast augmentation.
It’s important to be honest about your lifestyle and the effects that surgery might have on it since you’ll need to make significant changes to your daily routine for an extended period of time.