Cosmetic Surgery Tips

Breast Massage After Breast Reduction

Breast massages are a common part of recovery after breast reduction surgery. They help with the healing process, reduce swelling and pain, and prevent infection. Many women also find that they help them feel more comfortable with their new breasts during the adjustment period.

The best time to start a breast massage is right after surgery, but you can begin as soon as you’re able. If your surgeon has given you specific instructions on how long to wait before beginning a breast massage, follow those instructions. Otherwise, it’s fine to start whenever you feel ready.

Breast massage involves gently kneading the tissue around your breasts, which can help break down blood clots that may have formed during surgery. It also helps stimulate lymphatic drainage so fluid can be moved away from your incisions and into your lymph nodes for healing purposes. You might find that your incisions are quite sore after surgery; massaging them will help decrease swelling and discomfort by improving circulation in this region of your body.

Breast Massage After Breast Reduction

Can Massage Help Capsular Contracture After Breast Augmentation?

Does massage help capsular contracture?

After breast augmentation surgery, your immune system will respond to the foreign materials inserted into your chest. Your body builds a “capsule” around each breast implant. The capsule is made from interwoven collagen fibers, or scar tissue.

In some cases, the capsule tightens over time. This is called capsular contracture.

When this happens, the collagen “fabric” around the implant shrinks due to a buildup in fibers. This tightening can squeeze the implant, making it feel hard and painful to touch.

To help prevent this from happening, your plastic surgeon will likely recommend that you perform a daily breast massage in the first few months after your surgery. There are benefits to learning how to properly massage the area, but it isn’t guaranteed to eliminate your risk of capsular contracture entirely.

The exact cause of capsular contracture isn’t fully understoodTrusted Source. Massage can help prevent the capsule from hardening, but it may not stop the process completely.

Can you see a doctor for therapeutic massage for capsular contracture?

After your surgery, your surgeon will advise you on how to massage the area. They may also refer you to instructional videos describing the proper technique.

In most cases, you should be doing your own breast massage. Your doctor can teach you the correct way to do it, but given the sensitive nature of this massage, they shouldn’t offer to do it for you. If your doctor does perform your breast massage, they could lose their medical license.

What massage technique to use?

Talk to your doctor about when you should start your massage therapy. This can vary depending on your individual surgery. Some practitioners recommend that you start a daily routine a week or so after surgery.

Make sure you talk to your doctor about how to safely massage the area. If they’re unable to provide verbal guidance, they should be able to provide you with instructional materials, such as a pamphlet or video.

Here are some general techniques that you may find beneficial:

  • Cup your hands over the top of your breasts, either one or both on each breast at a time. Push downwards for a few seconds, release and repeat. Do the same maneuver, but this time push the breast upward.
  • Push your breasts toward the middle of your chest by placing your hands on each side. Hold for a few seconds and repeat.
  • Push your breasts toward the middle of your chest, this time with the opposite hand (crisscross them below your breasts). Hold and repeat.
  • Place both of your hands vertically on each side of a breast and squeeze. The squeeze should be firm enough but not painful. Repeat on your other breast.
  • Grab your shoulder with your opposite hand so that your elbow will press over your breast.

Some practitioners recommend that you vigorously massage your breasts:

  • three times a day in the first month post-surgery
  • twice a day in the second month
  • once a day throughout the rest of the lifespan of your implants

A good rule of thumb is to massage for at least 5 minutes at a time.

Although the recommendations for how often and how long to massage can vary, doctors typically agree that regular breast massage is one of the best ways to prevent capsular contracture.

Are there any risks and warnings?

There aren’t any risks associated with breast massage. To ensure that you’re using the appropriate techniques, go through the moves with your doctor before you leave your appointment.

Ideally, you will watch an instructional video during your appointment to help guide you or receive an instructional diagram before you leave. You may want to do the massage in front of a mirror for the first few times so that you can ensure you’re doing it correctly.

Are there other treatment options?

Once capsular contracture starts developing, massage may help reverse some of the hardening.

Anti-asthma medications may help soften the capsule. This is thought to work because of the medications’ anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin E may also be beneficial. Talk with your doctor before you take any medications or supplements. They can walk you through your options and discuss any potential benefits or risks.

In some cases, surgery may be an option. Talk to your doctor about whether this is the best route for you. With capsulotomy, the implant is “freed” from the capsule but will still remain inside your breast. With capsulectomy, the entire capsule is removed and the implant is replaced.

Will everyone with breast implant develop capsular contracture?

Although everyone who undergoes breast augmentation will develop a capsule — which is how your body naturally responds to having an implant — not everyone will develop capsular contracture.

Research on capsular contracture is limited, so it isn’t clear how common this complication is. Researchers in one 2008 meta-analysisTrusted Source estimated that capsular contracture affects between 15 to 45 percent of women who undergo breast augmentation.

It isn’t clear why some people develop capsular contracture and others don’t.

It’s thoughtTrusted Source that the following factors may play a role:

  • blood accumulation in the area
  • bacterial contamination
  • placement of the implant in regards to the pectoral muscle
  • presence of various substances either on the implant or introduced during surgery

The type of implant used may also be a factor. Smooth implants may have slightly higher riskTrusted Source for capsular contracture than textured implants do. Saline implants may carry a lower riskTrusted Source than silicone implants.

What is the outlook?

More research is needed to determine why capsular contracture develops and how common it is.

One of the most efficient ways to help reduce your risk and possibly even reverse capsular contracture is daily breast massage. You should massage your breasts for 5 minutes two to three times a day during the first two months after surgery. Afterward, you should massage for 5 minutes at least once a day or as often as recommended by your doctor.

Breast augmentation enhances the size, symmetry, and contour of a patient’s breasts. Many of our patients find that the cosmetic procedure boosts their self-esteem and their bustline.

Following your breast augmentation at our Waukesha, WI, plastic surgery practice, Dr. Tracy E. McCall will provide recommendations on important steps that should be followed throughout your recovery. One key recommendation will be to regularly massage your breasts beginning soon after breast augmentation surgery.

Why Is Massaging My Breasts Important?

The two main benefits of massaging your breasts after breast augmentation deal with implant settling and preventing capsular contracture. Breast massage after augmentation can also shorten your overall recovery time.

Capsular Contracture

Massaging your breasts at regular intervals can prevent the onset of capsular contracture. Although rare, the post-surgical complication causes the soft tissue that surrounds the implants to harden and tighten. Many patients with this complication find that their breasts become painful to touch.

The exact cause of capsular contracture is unknown, but leading theories suggest that the hardening is part of the body’s autoimmune response to the presence of breast implants. Many plastic surgeons, including Dr. McCall, recommend that patients massage their breasts multiple times a day to lower their risk of developing capsular contracture.

Implant Settling

“Drop and fluff” refers to the natural settling process of breast implants once they have been surgically placed. Most patients will notice the dropping phase first before the “fluff” results in the slight expansion of the implants once they have settled.

Having a daily massage routine facilitates and promotes the natural settling of breast implants. Once your breast implants have settled, your breasts will look more natural. This is one reason why we ask patients at our Waukesha office to wait several weeks before they evaluate their cosmetic results. Implants can appear to be unnaturally elevated immediately after surgery.

How to Properly Massage Your Breasts

At the time you are released to return home and recover from your breast augmentation, you will be given instructions on how and when to massage your breasts. Although your breasts will be sore and bruised in the days following surgery, it is best to not wait too long to begin massaging them.

Dr. McCall will give you specific advice on how frequently you should massage your breasts. In general, patients are advised to massage their breasts three times a day for several minutes. 

Common Massaging Techniques

Massaging your breasts three times a day during the first month or two while you recover will ensure that your breasts settle properly and do not harden. The following massage techniques are effective and easy to remember.

  • Cup one hand over each breast and press downward then upward
  • Push each breast toward the middle of your chest, hold, then pull breasts outward
  • Place an open hand on each side of one breast and gently squeeze the breast before similarly squeezing the other breast
  • Grab one shoulder with the opposite hand and use the arm to compress one breast and then the other

How Often Should I Massage My Breast Implants?

Woman in Blue Bra Massaging Breasts Following Breast EnhancementFollowing breast enhancement, your body’s natural healing response will form a capsule around each breast implant. This capsule, made of primarily of collagen, can contain some scar tissue which, over time, may harden and squeeze the implant. This condition, known as capsular contracture, can produce discomfort and can alter the appearance of your breasts. To help avoid this issue, many plastic surgeons recommend breast massage begin as soon as possible following breast augmentation.

Proper Breast Massage Technique

To massage your breasts following implant placement:

  • Cup your breast at the bottom with the opposite hand (Left for right breasts, right for left)
  • Gently squeezing the breast, encourage the implant upward, towards the collarbone, hold for a few seconds and release
  • Using the same hand, place fingertips near the armpit and gently press the implant towards your sternum, hold for a few seconds and release
  • Using the same hand, gently cup the upper portion of the breast and encourage the implant downward, towards your belly. Hold for a few seconds and release

Massaging your breasts can improve suppleness, help ease discomfort, and reduce risks for painful complications like capsular contracture. It can be done as soon as you feel comfortable doing it and it only takes about one minute per breast.

How Many Times a Day?

Breast massage feels good. It helps encourage healing. It produces a softer and suppler breast mound. And it only needs to be done once or twice a day.

You can massage your breast implants in the shower, with oils or lotions after bathing, or whenever the fancy strikes you. If you choose a shower setting or plan on using oils, please be mindful of your incisions. During your follow-up visits, we can help you determine when it will be safe to expose incisions to moisture and provide you with individualized breast massage techniques to address your specific needs.

Do’s And Don’ts After Breast Surgery

If you’ve decided to get breast augmentation surgery, it’s important to know what you can or can’t do during your recovery. Knowing what activities you can do and can’t do is essential to a quick and speedy recovery. Dr. Howland encourages patients to be well-informed about their specific surgery plan, which always involves certain restrictions and lifestyle changes during the recovery process and often includes the following topics.

Can I Have Sex After Breast Surgery?

Do have sex, but be careful. Only use positions that are comfortable to you and that don’t put too much impact on your upper body until you have reached six weeks from your breast surgery. Don’t forget to keep your breasts supported at all times, including during sex. Make sure to keep a few inches of distance between your chest and your partner’s. Light touches are acceptable, but your breasts will be sensitive as long as three weeks after your surgery. It’s also recommended to wear a compression bra while you and your partner are intimate.

Can I Go on Vacation After My Surgery?

If you choose to go somewhere that’s hot and sunny after breast surgery, make sure to protect your skin and specifically your incision sites from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Dr. Howland will instruct you on exactly when you can return to work and normal activities, and advise you on when it’s safe to fly on an airplane if a vacation is in the near future after your operation.

Don’t go into a pool if you go on vacation. You should also refrain from strenuous exercise and continue to wear your compression bra as recommended by Dr. Howland. Adequate support and gentle movement are critical to ensuring safe and natural-looking results.

When Can I Use Tanning Beds Again?

Do wait at least six to eight weeks after your surgery before tanning. Also, use sunscreen that’s at least SPF 30 and make sure to protect the entirety of your breasts, especially the incision site.

Don’t expose your scars if you go into a tanning bed. This can be a big mistake that leaves you with hyperpigmentation. Avoid going topless in the tanning bed until you are completely healed.

Can I Drink Alcohol After My Surgery?

Do follow the advice of Dr. Howland for when you’re allowed to drink after your breast surgery. While it can be tempting to get back to your normal lifestyle with friends and family, it’s important to put your health first and make sure you give yourself adequate rest for the weeks following your procedure so you can properly heal.

Don’t drink any alcohol for at least 48 hours after your surgery. You should also limit how much you drink a few weeks prior to your surgery as you want any and all medications you’re advised or prescribed to work properly and not be rendered ineffective.

When Can I Wear Normal Bras Again?

Do discuss this topic with Dr. Howland and have your breasts measured to check your new bra size once your implants have settled. Once you know your new cup size, you can begin bra shopping. Generally, you should wait at least six weeks before you switch to regular bras again.

Don’t underestimate your compression bra. It’s not sexy, but it works to keep your breasts in place as you heal, helping speed the recovery process as well as ensure your results are the most natural-looking they can be.

Can I Go Braless After My Surgery?

Do show off your new breasts once they’ve fully settled and healed, but be careful. You should avoid going braless before the six-week mark after your surgery. Dr. Howland requires patients to wear their compression bra for several weeks at all times except when bathing to aid the healing process.

Can I Exercise After My Surgery?

Do rest as much as possible and avoid exercise after your surgery. Usually, after about a week, you can do light activities like household chores and office work. Once you get to week six, you can perform light upper body exercises but should avoid getting too strenuous.

Don’t ignore your body after your surgery. Rest as much as you can and you’ll eventually bounce back. Over-exerting yourself too early in the recovery process can impede your breasts’ healing.

When Can I Bathe After My Surgery?

Dr. Howland will give you instructions for how to shower or bathe depending on your unique surgical plan. Usually, breast surgery patients can shower the day after surgery as long as they keep their incision sites dry and protected.

Don’t slip into a tub full of water. Full immersion in water will likely be prohibited for several weeks following your operation.

Learn More About Breast Surgery in Draper, UT

Although the recovery process can be lengthy, Dr. Howland’s breast augmentation and breast lift patients are always satisfied by their results upon fully healing. If you’re interested in breast enhancement surgery but are wary of the recovery time, you’re not alone. However, the process can be easier than you may think. Learn more about your options for breast surgery and what your unique plan will look like by scheduling a consultation with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Nicholas Howland today! Call our Salt Lake City office or contact us online to get started.

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