Cosmetic Surgery Tips

Breast Augmentation Recovery Week By Week

If you are considering breast augmentation, it is important to know what to expect during your recovery.

The first week after surgery is the most critical time for your recovery. During this time, you will be taking pain medications and wearing bandages around your chest and breasts. The following week will be much easier on you, but there are still some things that need to be done to ensure a good result from your surgery.

The most important thing is to stay off of your feet as much as possible during the first two weeks after surgery. This means that you should only go out if it is absolutely necessary because every time you stand up and start walking around after surgery, it puts pressure on your new implant which can cause bleeding or even dislodges the implant completely!

It also helps if you take frequent breaks when sitting down so that blood can flow more easily through your veins by keeping them open rather than constricted due to gravity pulling down on them constantly while sitting down all day long (which can happen easily without realizing how much time we spend seated). You should also use pillows when sleeping on your back so that they don’t put pressure on any areas where there may be stitches from having removed tissue from inside of your body (such as mammograms) before surgery

Breast Augmentation Recovery Week By Week


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.

Orange County Breast Augmentation Patient

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.

breast augmentation healing

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.

For many women, breast augmentation is an exciting prospect. This procedure allows you to regain your pre-pregnancy figure or feel more confident and proportionate in swimwear and clothing. As you consider breast augmentation, you have every reason to feel optimistic.

With that said, it is also very natural to have some reservations regarding your recovery after surgery. Prospective patients naturally want to know how much discomfort they will have, how long it will be before they feel normal, what kind of scars they can anticipate, and more.

These are all questions that should be covered during your breast augmentation consultation. Your plastic surgeon will be able to provide you with a more personalized set of expectations. In the meantime, we have put together this overview to provide a general sense of what to expect and how to prepare for your breast augmentation surgery.

What to Do Before Your Surgery

Before you have your breast augmentation surgery, there are several steps you should take to ensure that you are fully prepared for the procedure and for the recovery process. These steps can help your recovery go much more smoothly.

Read All Instructions Provided by Your Surgeon

Your plastic surgeon will provide you with plenty of written information about postoperative care, and about general expectations, you should have following your surgery. Take the time to read through all of this is well before the surgery itself, ensuring that you have plenty of time to ask follow-up questions and get clarification as needed.

Fill Your Prescriptions

You will need prescription medications to take before and after surgery including a pain management prescription as well as an antibiotic, and other medications. Be sure to pick up your prescriptions well in advance of surgery.

Your plastic surgeon may offer further guidelines for you to abstain from certain medications, supplements, and herbs especially those that can cause bleeding.

Stop Smoking and Vaping

Among the many adverse effects of nicotine is that it can impede your body’s ability to heal, increase your risk of complications such as infection, and worsen the appearance of your scars. If you smoke or vape, make sure you cease all nicotine products for at least 6 to 12 weeks before and after your procedure.

Arrange For a Support Person

You are going to need someone who can drive you home following the surgery and stay with you for the first 24 hours. But really, it is best to have a spouse, friend, or relative who can help out for the first day or two, helping you with meal prep, child care, and household maintenance. Remember that you are going to have limited energy and mobility and will appreciate the extra help. Be sure your support person has access to your written post-op instructions from the surgeon.

Go Shopping

After surgery, you will not be able to run a lot of errands. Make sure you stock up on healthy foods and snacks, water, and Tylenol. (This is the safest option with regard to over-the-counter pain management.)

Recovering from Breast Augmentation: Important Guidelines

In preparing for surgery and recovery, patients can be overwhelmed by all the information given to digest. In the following checklist, we have distilled some of the most important tips and guidelines for you to know in the immediate aftermath of your breast augmentation procedure.

  • Following your surgery, you are going to feel very fatigued. You should not plan on doing anything but resting for your first week or so of recovery.
  • For the first two or three days, it is crucial that you avoid any activities that could elevate your blood pressure. This can cause bleeding which may necessitate further surgery.
  • It bears repeating: You need someone staying with you for at least the first 24 hours, and ideally the next day or two if you have young children, toddlers, or infants. Your support person can help around the house, but also keep an eye open for any unexpected complications.
  • You may feel tightness, soreness, or pain in your chest for several days. This is why you will have medication options, both over-the-counter and prescription.
  • You cannot shower for the first 24 hours. And, you will want to avoid any still water, such as bathtubs and swimming pools, for at least 2 to 6 weeks.
  • Do not plan on traveling for the first week or two.
  • Be alert to the common signs of infection: Warmth, redness, and fever. If you exhibit any of these symptoms, call your plastic surgeon’s office ASAP.
  • For the first 6 weeks, you will need to wear either a post-surgical bra or other non-underwire bras at all times.
  • Avoid bending over, reaching up or across your body, and do not lift anything that weighs more than 5 pounds.
  • Due to the medication and anesthesia in your system, you may have constipation for your first few days of recovery. Be prepared for this with Colace or other over-the-counter constipation medications.
  • Do not sleep on your stomach. Ideally, you should lie on your back with your head slightly elevated.

By sticking to these basic tips and guidelines, you will be well on your way to a smooth, fast, and safe recovery.

Breast Augmentation Recovery: Timeline

One of the most common questions that patients ask before breast augmentation is how long is it going to take for them to feel fully recovered.

There is no simple answer to this question as all patients are different. Your recovery time can vary depending on the type of implant and the type of incision, as well as your healing progress. Adherence to your surgeon’s post-op instructions will help you to recover more quickly.

For some patients, it takes just a few days to a week before they are able to resume most of their daily non-strenuous household activities. For others, it may take more time. Even if you have a perfect recovery, you should wait at least 3 to 6 weeks before returning to the gym or engaging in any strenuous exercise, and always check with your surgeon when in doubt.

With that said, here is what you can expect in terms of a general timeline.

The First 24 Hours

Breast implant surgery will usually take less than one hour to complete. After surgery you will be taken to a recovery room, where your condition will be monitored for another hour then you will be cleared to head home with a caregiver.

When you first wake up, you will likely feel some pain and soreness in your chest. Your movement will be limited, and you may also have some minor dizziness and fatigue.

Once you get home, you are just going to want to rest. Follow your doctor’s orders with regard to painkiller use.

The First 48 Hours

You will likely need pain medication for the first 2 or 3 days. Hang in there and remind yourself that this is temporary. You will soon begin to feel quite a bit more normal.

You may experience varying levels of pain, swelling, and bruising. Use your pain medication as directed by your surgeon, and make sure you stay consistent with your antibiotic use.

One thing to keep in mind: Some patients develop a very mild fever during the first couple of days. This is not necessarily a sign of infection. If the fever worsens or persists, let your surgeon’s office know.

Do not shower until cleared by your surgeon. Remember to avoid still water, including baths and swimming pools.

The First Week

For the first 4 to 7 days, you should stay home from work and continue resting as much as possible. Avoid strenuous activity of any kind. By the end of the first week, you should notice your energy coming back to you and your pain and soreness lessening quite a bit.

Another important note about the first week is that your incision will still be covered with gauze bandages and/or surgical tape. Follow your surgeon’s instructions with regard to changing and checking your dressings.

Your implants may appear to be too high, especially if placed under the muscle. This is normal and will take weeks to months to settle into the correct position.

Weeks 3-6

Fast forward to week three: By this point, any pain, discomfort, or soreness should be significantly abated. At this juncture, you are free to resume most of your regular physical activities, except high impact activity or upper body exercises including yoga, pilates, and golf unless cleared by your surgeon.

Continue to wear your support bra, or a sports bra, to ensure that your breasts are supported, especially during high-impact activities.

First Two Months

Once you move out of the initial recovery phase, your plastic surgeon will let you know when it is okay to stop wearing a support bra. Additionally, after two months or so, most patients will be cleared by their surgeon to resume all of their normal activities, including vigorous workouts and other physically strenuous endeavors.

When Can You See Results from Your Breast Augmentation?

When you first start thinking seriously about getting breast implants, it is natural to feel excited about seeing your new figure. However, it is important to realize that you are not going to see the final results immediately from your breast augmentation. There will of course be some swelling and bruising. Swelling in the area of the sternum is common which may make your cleavage look less pronounced. This is normal.

It may be about two full months or more before you can truly, clearly see the outcome of your breast augmentation, and really assess the change to your body. Our advice: be patient and do not be discouraged. It can be frustrating to go through surgery and not see a perfect outcome immediately. Scars should begin to slowly fade until they are only faintly visible. Keep in mind that it takes 12 to 18 months for scars to fully mature so be patient during this transitional process.

Dealing with the After Effects of Breast Augmentation

During your recovery period, you can anticipate some discomfort, swelling, bruising, and more. Your plastic surgeon can provide you with some practical remedies. In the meantime, here are some general thoughts on handling these common side effects.

Dealing with Discomfort

The most common side effect of breast augmentation is physical discomfort. Patients describe the pain as being either mild or moderate in nature, and it usually takes the form of tightness, or a feeling of pressure, in the chest. Symptoms of pain may last for up to two months.

Your plastic surgeon will prescribe you a painkiller that you can use as needed and also direct you to the best over-the-counter remedies. Just remember that any discomfort is temporary and that rest and time will help.

Dealing with Swelling and Bruising

Breast augmentation patients should also anticipate some swelling and bruising. Again, this is no cause for alarm unless the swelling and/or bruising are significant. There are homeopathic medications such as Sinecch or Arnica Montana that will help minimize swelling and bruising.

Your swelling should go away completely within several weeks or months. We do not recommend the use of cold packs or ice.

Dealing with Bleeding

Another side effect to watch for is bleeding. Although it is uncommon, bleeding can actually occur even a week or two after your surgery but is most common immediately following surgery. If you do notice any excessive swelling or bleeding, especially if one breast suddenly appears much larger than the other, call your plastic surgeon’s office right away. It may be a sign that there is a hematoma that may require reoperation.

Dealing with Fatigue

Following any major surgery, you are bound to feel tired. For those who get breast implants, it is normal to feel very fatigued for the first few days to two weeks of recovery.

First and foremost, we urge you to be patient with yourself. Surgery takes a lot out of your body, and being tired is in no way a sign of weakness. It is a natural response to a physically taxing event.

Beyond that, we simply recommend preparing a comfortable place in your home where you can rest for the first five to seven days, minimizing physical activity as much as possible. This is another reason why having a support person, is so crucial; it ensures that you do not have to get up to handle chores around the home.

Dealing with Limited Movement

For the first several weeks, you may be instructed to strictly limit your upper body movements, avoiding reaching up overhead or forward. This is to allow the pockets where your implants are placed to heal without disruption. Take it easy and do not do too much!

Dealing with Infection

Although it is exceedingly rare, it is understandable for patients to be concerned about infection. Patients are usually treated with IV antibiotics during surgery and placed on a short course of oral antibiotics post-operatively. Please be sure to complete the full dose of your prescribed antibiotics.

You should be concerned about the possibility of infection if, after two weeks, you do not seem to be making any progress in your recovery; and especially if you have a persistent fever or discharge such as pus from your incision(s). If you believe you have an infection, contact your surgeon right away. Often, early infections can be treated very simply with antibiotics.

Something else to keep in mind is that, by showing up for all the recommended follow-up appointments, you give your plastic surgeon an opportunity to assess your healing. These follow-up appointments can help you avoid more serious issues down the road, so make sure you keep them.

Dealing with Capsular Contracture

Following breast augmentation, every person develops scar tissue around each implant. This capsule is what holds the implant in place. Scar tissue forms around an implant that is placed in the body whether it be a breast implant, chin implant, hip implant, et cetera.

In rare cases, the capsule forms more aggressively, causing it to feel firmer than it is supposed to and sometimes distort the shape of the breast. Medical researchers are not totally clear on why this happens although there may be a genetic predisposition to forming thicker scars or capsules.

If a patient develops severe capsular contracture, the treatment is to replace the implant and remove the scar tissue. This is called a capsulectomy or capsulotomy. The good news, beyond the fact that this is not very common, is that a capsulectomy usually corrects the problem, and often it does not recur.

Dealing with Implant Rupture

Something else that breast implant patients should be aware of is the fact that implants are not considered lifetime devices and at some point, their implant(s) will rupture. This is more likely to happen sooner with a saline implant than a silicone implant. Your plastic surgeon can talk to you more about the specific rupture risks with each implant type and implant manufacturer. Ruptures may happen due to a traumatic accident or simply due to older implants over time.

In the event of ruptured implants, your plastic surgeon will need to remove the implant and sometimes part of the capsule. Replacement implants can be put in during the same operation and a warranty through your implant manufacturer may help you defray some of the costs associated with this operation.

What About Scarring?

One final consideration related to breast augmentation recovery is scarring. Here are a few considerations:

Scar Location

Prior to surgery, your surgeon should discuss your options for the incision site. Your scar may be located just underneath the curve of your breast, called the (inframammary approach), along the lower half of the nipple (called the periareolar approach), or in the armpit (called the transaxillary approach). Your plastic surgeon can tell you more.

Scar Appearance

Your scar will initially be fairly noticeable; it may be red or pink in color and slightly raised or bumpy in its texture. For the vast majority of patients, it will fade over time, blending with your natural skin tone. This process may take up to 18 months, but most patients will notice their scars fading sooner than that.

How to Minimize Scarring

As for steps you can take to minimize the visibility of your breast implant scars, some quick recommendations include:

  • Abstain from smoking, both before and for several weeks after your procedure.
  • Minimize scar exposure to the sun.
  • During your recovery, eat nutritiously and stay hydrated.
  • Consider a medical-grade scar product if you are prone to poor scars.
  • Follow post-op instructions from your surgeon.

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