With all the research and planning leading to your decision to get “new breasts,” you may not have thought about what comes after breast augmentation surgery – other than your fabulous new breasts (and possibly a new wardrobe).
But surgery, no matter how safe or simple, requires recovery. So what should you expect in the days and weeks following your breast augmentation surgery?
After Breast Augmentation: The First Day
Breast augmentation surgery is an outpatient surgery, most frequently performed under general anesthesia. The surgery typically lasts between one and two hours. After surgery, you will spend another one to two hours in recovery to insure you are comfortable, any nausea is under control, and you are adequately awake and alert before you are discharged. You won’t be allowed to drive so be sure you’ve arranged for someone to take you home.
Your incisions will be covered by a small amount of gauze, and a post-operative bra will have been put on you after surgery. Your surgeon will provide instructions on how to care for your incisions that day and in the coming weeks. Follow these instructions precisely for the best healing and minimal scarring. Most patients will be given a prescription for narcotic pain medications to get you through the first few days.
Your task this first day is simply to rest. It may seem like surgery was “done to you,” but the minute an incision was made for your breast augmentation, your body became an active participant. It immediately got to work to help you heal from the process. So rest and let it do its thing.
After Breast Augmentation: The First Week
Again, your body is hard at work healing your surgical incisions. You should use this week to rest and eat well so your body can recover. Plan on taking at least a few days off from work to relax at home. Avoid any strenuous activity or heavy lifting. If you educate yourself on what to expect after surgery and prepare a little ahead of time, you won’t be caught off guard or be tempted to overdo it.
During breast augmentation surgery, the surgeon makes incisions in skin and muscle. This will cause discomfort, especially in the first few days. You may find that certain movements, particularly pushing and pulling with your arms, make the pain worse. You will be given an adequate supply of pain medication for the first three to five days. Don’t be afraid to use this medication as your surgeon has prescribed it to stay ahead of your pain rather than letting it build up. During this first week let your body heal by using your pain medication and avoiding lifting, pushing, or pulling.
In addition, your breasts will look swollen and feel tight. This typically worsens over the first 2-3 days, stabilizes and then starts to go down between the 1st and 2nd week after surgery. Most of the swelling will be gone by 2 months. You may also feel a squishing sensation or hear a squeaking sound coming from your breasts during that first week. This is completely normal. It’s due to a small amount of fluid around the implant that is typically absorbed by the body during the first week.
Once you start feeling less discomfort, your doctor will likely have you switch to an over-the-counter pain medication like Motrin.
After Breast Augmentation: The First Month
Toward the end of that first week, you should start to feel more like yourself again. Your surgeon will probably clear you to drive and get back to work soon
However, if your job is physical or requires much lifting, you may need a longer period of time before returning to your full workload. You may be tempted to push this, but remember that it is better to be cautious so you can avoid complications and your body can heal beautifully.
During this time, don’t use any bra with underwire. Use the soft undergarments recommended by your surgeon. You don’t want to do anything that will interfere with healing. Tight, ill-fitting, and underwire bras can do just that.
Toward the end of the month, your surgeon will let you know when it is okay to begin low impact exercise. You should be able to build up to your normal routine slowly in the weeks that follow.
After Breast Augmentation: The First Year
By the end of the first month, the swelling becomes less noticeable and the incisions should be healed. However, a small amount of swelling will remain for several months. For this reason, it’s a good idea to hold off on spending a lot of money on new bras or swimsuits until 2 months after surgery. Bras can be expensive and you don’t want to invest in something that won’t fit the same way in a matter of months.
In addition, scars will continue to change throughout the next year and a half. In fact, you may find that your scars look worse before they look better. Know that it can take 12 to 18 months for scars to take on their final appearance. Be sure to follow your surgeon’s regimen for caring for your incisions and scars to minimize their appearance and get the best results.
It’s also important to note that it may take a good part of this first year before your new breasts feel like your breasts. At first they may feel unfamiliar and foreign, but over the coming months they will gradually become part of your body image.
The year following your surgery is a year of healing and change for your new breasts. Preparing yourself ahead of time for what to expect during this “transition” year is important. Equally important is a plastic surgeon you feel comfortable calling if things aren’t going as you expect.
If you are looking for the right plastic surgeon for your breast augmentation, Dr. Slack would enjoy sitting down with you to discuss your goals. Get in touch now to schedule your free consultation.