Breast implant surgery, often referred to as a breast augmentation, is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the United States. The procedure is sought out by over 300,000 American women a year. During a breast augmentation, synthetic implants are surgically inserted into the chest to enhance the volume and appearance of breasts. The procedure is typically done to increase breast size or to improve breast symmetry.
While the procedure is incredibly common and generally carries low risk, many women considering getting a breast augmentation ask the question: What is the aftercare of breast implant surgery? Is it difficult to handle? What kind of impact will breast augmentation recovery have on daily life?
Below we detail a step-by-step list of what to expect when recovering from a breast augmentation, and how to care for your newly enhanced breasts:
Immediately After: Rest!
Although you should try to sit, stand, and walk around by the evening of your surgery to help prevent blood clots, your breast augmentation post-op care should include no activity beyond this for the first few days. All patients generally need at least two days of rest after the procedure. This should be followed by several days of reduced activity. Expect to sleep on your back for optimal recovery and avoid moving your arms too much, as this could aggravate the chest muscles. Patients will need to refrain from vigorous exercise and lifting heavy objects for the first few days following surgery and should strictly follow surgeon guidelines for incision care and resuming everyday activities. If possible, ask a friend or partner to assist you following surgery, especially if you have children. You will not be able to pick up small children for a few weeks while recovering, so plan for assistance as much as you can in the weeks following your procedure.
Patients should expect to feel very tired and sore after having a breast augmentation, as surgery is very taxing on the body. Because of this, the first few days after surgery are typically the most uncomfortable. Listen to your body and take it easy, as the first few hours after surgery can impact the rest of your recovery time. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication for the first few days to help ease any discomfort.
After a Few Days to a Week: Slowly Get Back to Basics
After the first few days, most women can manage postoperative discomfort with over-the-counter painkillers. In addition, a majority of women are able to return to desk jobs about a week following surgery. The chest area may feel different and a bit tight during these days, but this is to be expected and should ease over time.
Patients can start returning back to normal activities and light exercise at this time but should avoid strenuous or jarring activities such as running, kickboxing or rigorous workouts. Heavy lifting is also discouraged until full recovery.
After One to Two Months: Full Recovery
Around one to two months after surgery, you should start feeling 100 percent again. All sensation and proper range of motion should return to your chest, along with reduced pain. While most women are completely recovered during this time, it is important to listen to your body and continue to modify your regular activity until you feel ready to tackle more intense physical exercise.
Final Tips for a Smooth Recovery
As you know, there will be a considerable amount of soreness and swelling during the weeks after your breast augmentation. To help reduce this pain and speed up healing, it is strongly recommended that you invest in one or two comfortable recovery bras. These garments are specially designed to maximize post-op comfort, but they also provide implant stability, increased circulation and mild compression to ensure proper lymph drainage. You will be required to wear a bra at all times following surgery, so it’s important to look for features such as breathable fabric, seamless design, adjustable straps and a pressure-free fit.
Another tip is to prepare your home and your clothing selection before you undergo your breast augmentation. The first week following surgery will be the most difficult, so it’s wise to have all of your housework, clothes shopping and meal prep done beforehand so that you can fully rest. Most doctors also recommend filling your pain prescriptions the day before your procedure so that you can have the medications on hand as soon as you need them.
Finally, be sure to get plenty of rest and keep your kitchen stocked with healthy foods and hydrating drinks to help speed up your healing. Remember that you will be sore and tired, so keeping light, easy foods on hand will help stimulate your appetite. Drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day during recovery is recommended by doctors to ensure optimal health after surgery. Additionally, you should be sure to eat plenty of whole foods, foods high in fiber, healthy fats, and foods low in sodium.