Cosmetic Surgery Tips

How Bad Does Breast Augmentation Hurt

Women over the globe awaken each day with the realization that they desire larger breasts. Why shouldn’t they, too? We don’t really need an explanation for why we should look better. However, there are numerous approaches to achieving this objective, some of which carry greater risk than others.

One of the choices that, if performed incorrectly, could negatively affect your body is breast augmentation. It is crucial that you select a qualified surgeon who has performed this kind of surgery before and is knowledgeable about how to treat any difficulties that might arise.

In this post, we’ll consider how painful is breast augmentation recovery and breast augmentation healing phases.

How Bad Does Breast Augmentation Hurt

Women get breast implants for a variety of reasons, about 400,000 each year. Some do it to fix asymmetry (uneven size or shape). Others do it after losing volume from breastfeeding. Women like me do it because we have little to no boobs and think breast implants will help us feel more confident and feminine.

I’ve never really liked my body. Puberty gave me hips but almost no boobs, I barely filled a 34A cup. No other woman in my family was flat chested like I was. I always felt like I had the chest of a boy. In 2014, when I was 25, I finally mustered up the courage to schedule some consultations.

I did a lot of research before hand and spent a lot of time in a popular breast implant forum. I won’t say what the forum is since I believe it’s a toxic environment. The most popular advice from that forum was “go bigger” or else you’ll get “boobie regret.” The horror! There were quite a few women there who went on to get even bigger implants as soon as their surgeon allowed them too, but when you’re on a forum every day where everyone is telling you what you have STILL isn’t enough, it’s going to affect you.

Sadly I bought into their fear and did end up going a little bigger than I had initially wanted. At first I just wanted to be a B-C cup. I didn’t want the change to be that noticeable, I just wanted something there so I felt like a woman. I ended up going with 375cc silicone implants which took me from 34A to 34D.

Why I regret my breast implants

I regretted my size fairly quickly. No one tells you that a lot of clothing doesn’t fit as well with bigger boobs. My favorite bikini tops looked ridiculous. A year after my surgery I actually went back to my doctor to talk about getting smaller implants, as well as other concerns I had. My doctor told me that I was only the 2nd woman to want to go smaller. I’ll discuss why I think that is later.

I didn’t end up changing my implants. I didn’t want (and couldn’t afford) to spend another $3,000, and I came to realize how stupid it all was. I was still really unhappy with them but eventually I did get used to the size even though I’d still like them to be smaller. There were other things I couldn’t live with though.

What I expected from my operation

Like I said I did a lot of research. I saw 3 different surgeons and asked questions. One made a comment about how most women didn’t ask the questions I was asking, which is pretty alarming. When you’re making important decisions like this always do your research. I knew there were potential complications, like the ones I’ve listed below.

  • Capsular Contracture: The formation of scar tissue around the implant that causes breast distortion and pain. Basically your boobs will start to look like Quasimodo.
  • Rippling: Visible ripples you can see under the skin.
  • Rupture: Where the implant shell breaks and silicone leaks into the body.
  • Symmastia: Where the muscle and skin detach from the sternum and you basically have one boob. Yikes.

Thankfully I haven’t had any of those issues. I still judge myself pretty hard for knowing those risks and still getting implants, but the pressure for women to look a certain way is so strong and I fell victim to it.

What I did not expect

Research and the doctors told me recovery would be fairly easy due to the advancement of surgical techniques. At one office a women who worked there told me she was able to drive the day after her surgery. That was NOT my experience. My sister, who’s had 6 babies, said her recovery was worse than childbirth. She told me this after my surgery though. I’ve never had kids but I can say recovery was very painful, and I have a fairly high pain tolerance.

I had to sleep sitting on the sofa up for about a month, I had terrible nerve pain when I moved my arms (like being stabbed with a hot poker, Icy Hot saved my life), my ribs were so sore and my pain meds didn’t help, and I couldn’t drive for 2 weeks. I was emotional and miserable.

I also didn’t know that implants could cause debilitating autoimmune disease and that mold could grow around the implants.

Eventually I healed and they stopped hurting everyday, but I still had issues. My incision scars are still purple 5 years later (they’re honestly more embarrassing than being flat chested), one breast is about a centimeter lower than the other (due to surgeon error), and despite all the women who said otherwise they do NOT feel natural.

Sometimes when I lay down on my back I can feel them slide towards my armpits. It’s like nails sliding down a chalkboard. Doing upper body exercises is also very uncomfortable as you can feel your muscle moving the implants as they are activated during push ups and other chest exercises.

Oh and I can’t wear underwire bras anymore, they start to hurt after a few hours when they never did before. So now I just wear boring bralettes.

The worst thing though is how it affects my sleep.

Sleeping with breast implants is extremely uncomfortable

I’m a side and stomach sleeper. Both positions are uncomfortable with implants.

When you lay on your side gravity pulls the top implant down. This pulls on the muscle attached to your sternum (the bone between your breasts). It’s possible for that muscle to detach from the bone (called Symmastia) and it just feels bad. To deal with this I have to sleep with a pillow between my boobs.

Laying on my stomach is even worse. Putting that pressure on the implants pulls at muscles on the sides (under the armpits) as well as on the sternum. On several occasions I’ve gotten intense back and sternum pain from pressure on my ribs directly behind my implants either pulling a muscle or pinching a nerve. Last month it happened and I had back pain for several days.

I also occasionally wake up with soreness under my breasts and on the sides. Every night I have to sleep with at least 3 pillows supporting me otherwise I wake up in pain.

I like having boobs but I like sleep more!

Why don’t women talk about this?

I wish there had been more women out there warning me away from getting a breast augmentation, but I can understand why there aren’t.

I’m not saying every women regrets their plastic surgery decisions or that it’s inherently bad (in moderation), but I think a lot of women secretly do have regrets.

When you spend thousands of dollars to change your body and then you regret it, it’s really hard to admit that you spent all that money for nothing. And for people like me it’s hard to afford to reverse it.

More women are speaking out though. Even supermodel Gisele Bündchen admitted that she regrets getting implants after breastfeeding her kids. There is a facebook group with over 70,000 women who’ve had issues with their implants.

I do worry that teens and young women are getting sucked into the world of plastic surgery. When you have popular reality tv stars like the Kardashians and Jenners augmenting their entire bodies and faces and claiming it was diet tea and creams, or whatever they’re shilling these days on Instagram, girls internalize that and go looking for ways to alter their faces and bodies without understanding the consequences.

So my advice to anyone considering implants or other surgeries, be very sure that you are emotionally and financially prepared for the worst consequences, both the ones you know about and the ones you don’t. I hope you are never in the position where you also regret getting breast implants.

I hope that someday women won’t feel the need to change their bodies to fit society’s ideal of what we should look like.

How Painful Is Breast Augmentation Recovery

In breast enlargement surgery, the doctor makes the breasts larger by putting an implant under the breast tissue or under the chest muscle. An implant is a soft silicone shell filled with a saltwater solution or a gel. After the surgery you will probably feel weak. You may feel sore for 2 to 3 weeks, and you’ll likely have a lot of swelling. You may have a pulling or stretching feeling in your breast area. You can expect to feel better and stronger each day, although you may need pain medicine for a week or two. You may get tired easily or have less energy than usual. This may last for several weeks after surgery.

If your doctor closed your incisions with removable stitches, the stitches will be taken out in 7 to 14 days.

Your new breasts may feel firmer and look rounder. The skin on your breasts may be numb. It should get better with time. You may have some permanent loss of feeling in the nipple area.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

Life Changes After Breast Implants

In general, most women are satisfied with the results of breast augmentation. Success rates of breast augmentation are quite high (about 98%) with the recipients reporting that they:

  • Feel more confident at work and in their personal life.
  • Have greater sexual satisfaction.
  • Get more attention and compliments.
  • Have higher self-esteem.
  • Try more varied types of outfits than before.

Thus, for most women, going for a breast implant was a good decision, and it made them happier and more contented with their bodies than they previously were. Nevertheless, every procedure comes with its distinct limitations and risks.

You may need some time to adjust and accept the change the surgery brought to your body. It may take a while for you to choose the right clothes and accept the implants as a natural part of your body.

For some days or weeks post the surgery, you may experience some numbness, tingling, or prickling sensation over your breasts and nipples. These sensations go away on their own as the nerves heal following the surgery.

What are some reasons to get breast implants?

Breast augmentation or breast implant surgeries are one of the most common plastic surgeries performed worldwide. Breast implants are fluid- or gel-filled devices that are placed under the breast tissue or chest muscle to change the breast size and shape. They may be done for several reasons including restoring the shape of the breasts after breast cancer surgery.

Many women may opt for the surgery because they think their breasts are too small or not developed (macromastia). Some women go for breast implants because their breasts are naturally asymmetric (unequal in size or shape).

Breast implants may be chosen due to changes in the firmness or size of the breasts due to aging or after childbirth.

What are different types of breast implants?

There are two popular types of breast implants: saline (salt water) and silicone (gel). Both types come in a variety of sizes. 

Most women choose silicone-filled implants because they feel more natural. However, saline implants are a bit safer because they are easier to detect if ruptured, and the saline is easily absorbed by the body.

Breast implants can be placed above or below the chest muscle. Placement above the muscle reduces recovery time. Placement below the muscle is more common after breast cancer surgery and has lower rates of infection and long-term complications. Disadvantages include abnormal upward movement of the breast tissue when the chest muscle contracts.

What are the risks of breast implants?

Some of the complications of breast implants include:

  • Implant rupture
  • Capsular contracture (scar tissue formation around the implant that hardens the breast and distorts its shape)
  • Breast pain or discomfort
  • Changes in skin sensation over the breast and nipples
  • Infection
  • Bleeding or hematoma formation
  • Implant displacement or sagging
  • Implant rippling or wrinkling
  • Need for additional views during mammograms
  • Anesthesia-related complications
  • Breast scarring
  • Uneven nipple positions
  • Need for a repeat or corrective surgery
  • Breast implant-associated lymphoma (a type of cancer of the immune system)

What is the recovery process for breast implant surgery?

Breast implant surgery is quite safe when done by expert surgeons. The first few days after the breast implant surgery are often the most painful:

  • Breasts may be swollen and bruised.
  • Chest muscles may feel sore.
  • Incisions may bleed slightly.

After 1 week, pain and discomfort should subside. Pain medications or over-the-counter acetaminophen may be prescribed for pain relief. After 1-2 weeks, light activities may be resumed, although lifting heavy objects and moving the arms overhead should be avoided.

Even after several weeks, it is normal to experience mild soreness or some bruising. At this point, it is possible to participate in light exercises. However, avoid lifting heavy objects or any other strenuous activities.

The body will be able to fully recover between six and eight weeks after breast implant procedure.

Do breast implants give permanent results?

Breast implants, although long-lasting, do not give any permanent results. Your breast implants may sag or change in position as you age or gain significant weight. There may be changes in the appearance of your breasts if you lose weight. Thus, you may need corrective surgery to get the desired look of your breasts after the initial surgery.

When properly taken care of, breast implants generally last anywhere between 10 and 20 years. The risk of breast implant rupture increases by 1% each year after the initial surgery.

If you are not satisfied with the look of your breasts after the implants are placed, you may go for another surgery with implants of a bigger or smaller size or a different material or type.

Proper care can help improve the lifespan of breast implants. This process begins during breast implant recovery and includes:

  • Wearing a support garment or surgical bra during recovery
  • Getting annual check-ups with your surgeon, as well as performing regular self-checks
  • Getting MRI scans 3 years after the initial surgery and then every 2 years after that (for silicone implants)

What is breast implant–associated lymphoma and what are the symptoms?

Breast implant-associated lymphoma, also called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), is a rare but serious complication of breast augmentation. It is not a type of breast cancer but a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (a type of cancer of the immune system). It is generally localized to the scar tissue and fluid around the breast implant but may spread to other parts of the body as well.

BIA-ALCL may present as a lump or mass in the breast and breast pain and swelling after the breasts have healed following the surgery. Early detection helps in successfully treating cancer by removing the implant and some tissue around it. Advanced cases may additionally need chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Although there is a lack of enough scientific evidence to recognize it as an illness, some people may report a constellation of generalized symptoms called breast implant illness (BII). BII may occur with any type of breast implant and is also called autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants.

Symptoms of BII may occur any time after the surgery and may present as:

  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory impairment
  • Weight changes 
  • Rash
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Hair loss
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Pain in muscles and joints
  • Gut issues
  • Headaches

Breast Augmentation Healing Phases

There are four stages to the recovery process after breast enlargement surgery:

Post-operation – the day of your surgery and the few days after you go home
Stage two – the days immediately after leaving hospital
Stage three – normally weeks two – six
Stage four – for most patients, six weeks to six months

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