Cosmetic Surgery Tips

When Are Stitches Removed After Breast Augmentation

You had cosmetic breast surgery to change the size or shape of your breasts. You may have had a breast lift, breast reduction, or breast augmentation.

Any stitches will be removed within 2 weeks after surgery. If your incisions are covered with surgical glue, it doesn’t need to be removed and will wear off. Keep the dressings or adhesive strips on your incisions for as long as your surgeon told you to. Make sure you have extra bandages in case you need them.

In this article, we will discuss these factors and provide some guidelines for when your doctor may recommend removing your stitches. You’ll also learn about how breast augmentation stitches healing and how long do incisions hurt after breast augmentation.

When Are Stitches Removed After Breast Augmentation

The choice of dissolvable or non-dissolvable sutures is totally up to the doctor; thus, the removal of breast augmentation sutures normally depends on the kind of sutures that the surgeon used for the treatment.

Dissolvable sutures won’t need to be removed because they will dissolve once the healing process is through, but non-dissolvable sutures need to be taken out between 6-7 days after surgery.

Follow your doctor’s instructions on self-care at home. Please use the information below as a reminder.

Keep the dressings or adhesive strips on your incisions for as long as your doctor told you to. Make sure you have extra bandages in case you need them. You will need to change them daily.

Keep the incision areas clean, dry, and covered. Check daily for signs of infection (redness, pain, or drainage).

After Your Surgery

  • You will have a gauze bandage covering your incision (surgical cut). Your bra or clear tape will hold this bandage in place.
  • You may have a Jackson-Pratt® drain (JP drain) in place when you leave the hospital. This is a plastic drain that’s inserted in your chest to drain the fluid from your surgery. The drain is usually removed 1 to 2 weeks after your surgery. Your nurse will teach you how to care for it before you go home.
    • Your nurse will give you the resource Caring for Your Jackson-Pratt Drain or you can search for it on mskcc.org/pe.
  • You will get a prescription for pain medication and antibiotics.
  • If you will be traveling by car, place a small pillow or towel between the seat belt and your reconstructed breast. The skin over your reconstructed breast is often thin and can be scraped easily. This can lead to infection.

At Home

Caring for your chest

  • Until your follow-up appointment, take off any bandages that your bra is holding in place and replace them with fresh ones at least once per day. At your follow-up appointment, your doctor or nurse will tell if you can stop.
  • You can take off any bandages that a clear plastic bandage is holding in place 48 hours (2 days) after your surgery.
  • To create a natural fold under your breast, your doctor placed sutures (stitches) under your skin that you won’t see. They will dissolve on their own and don’t need to be removed. These sutures may cause you to feel a pinching or pulling sensation and can be painful. If you have any pain, take your pain medication.

For the first 48 hours after your surgery:

  • You may have a slight fever. Your temperature could reach 101° F (38.3° C).
  • The skin around your reconstructed breast may become pink or red.

These aren’t signs of an infection. They’re signs that your body is adjusting to the implant. Call your doctor if the redness or fever doesn’t get better 48 hours after your surgery or if your temperature gets higher than 101° F (38.3° C).

Showering

  • Don’t shower or wet your bandage for the first 48 hours after surgery.
  • Talk to your doctor about showering with your JP drain in place.
  • Avoid baths, hot tubs, and swimming pools for at least 6 weeks after your surgery.
  • Talk with your doctor or nurse before you use deodorant, lotion, or cream anywhere near your incision.

Clothing

  • Wear a soft supportive bra for 6 weeks after your surgery, even while sleeping. You may remove your bra when you bathe or shower.
  • Don’t wear a bra that has underwire.

Medications

  • Your doctor will give you medication to treat your pain as needed.
  • Your doctor will give you an antibiotic. Take the antibiotic as it’s prescribed.

Restrictions on physical activity

You can resume most activities right after your surgery, but below are some things you should avoid:

  • Don’t do any exercise that will tighten your chest muscles. If you have any questions about this, talk with your doctor or nurse.
  • Don’t lift any objects heavier than 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms) for 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Check with your doctor or nurse before starting heavy exercises, such as running, jogging, or lifting weights.

When you exercise, wear a soft and supportive bra.

Call Your Doctor or Nurse If You Have:

  • A fever of 101° F (38.3° C) or higher
  • Redness, warmth, or increased pain or swelling in your breast area
  • Shaking chills
  • Trouble breathing
  • Drainage or oozing from your incision

Breast Augmentation Stitches Healing

As critical as the recovery process is, there are some steps you can take to minimize scars from your breast augmentation incisions, even before your procedure.

An experienced surgeon with meticulous technique will ensure your incisions are well-placed, as small as possible, and heal cleanly.

Make sure you understand where your breast augmentation incisions will be. This way, you won’t be surprised by having stitches or drains in a place you did not expect. Dr. Alderman will help you prepare for your surgery by explaining what to do in the days and weeks leading up to your procedure, as well as afterward. You can reduce your healing time and the appearance of your scars by carefully following all instructions before and after surgery.

In the weeks leading up to surgery, you should also:

  • Avoid ibuprofen and aspirin, which thin the blood and increase your risk of bleeding.
  • Stop taking any herbal supplements, herbal medications or vitamin C as these can increase your risk of bleeding.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking delays healing.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Caring for Your Incisions after Augmentation Surgery

Your recovery period is a crucial time during which your body heals, and your new breast implants settle into their proper position and shape. During your recovery, you will need to maintain the cleanliness of your incisions.

Infections are very rare. However, avoiding an infection will be your primary goal. Be aware of signs of infection, which include а fever, redness around the incision or drainage. If any of these symptoms appear, call our office immediately.

Your incision should be kept dry for 3–4 days.  After that, Dr. Alderman will let you take a shower.  However, you are not allowed to submerge in water for a total of 4 weeks from surgery.  You may ice the sides of your breasts, but it is not recommended to ice your incisions.

Drainage tubes are used for primary breast augmentation but may be needed for a revisional surgery.  If you have drainage tubes, be careful not to pull or dislodge them. Wear loose clothing to ensure nothing is rubbing or pushing against them as you move around. Dr. Alderman will usually remove the tubes at your first follow-up visit, which is usually a week after the surgery.

Avoid activities that cause you to raise your arms above your head. These include washing your hair and reaching for items on high shelves. Тhе physical act of raising your arms will put undue stress on the sutures. If stitches are dislodged, you may experience reopening of the treatment site.  If you notice any loose stitches, don’t try to remove them yourself.

  • Do not remove any compression or support garments until Dr. Alderman clears you to do so.
  • Don’t wear an underwire or push-up bra for at least six weeks after surgery, as these types of bras can irritate your incisions and prevent your implants from settling properly.
  • For six to eight weeks after surgery, avoid sleeping on your stomach or sides. Don’t run, jump, or perform any other vigorous physical activity that could compromise healing, affect incisions, or displace your implants.
  • Do not try to examine your incisions by pulling up on your breasts or lifting your arms.
  • Do not get direct sun on your implant incisions for at least 12 months following your surgery.
  • Use a full-spectrum sunblock of 30 SPF or higher if you must go out in the sun.

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.

1 week

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.

2 months

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.

Possible Complications

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.

How Long Do Incisions Hurt After Breast Augmentation

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.

Takeaway

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.

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