For women who decide to undergo breast augmentation surgery, there can indeed be a great deal of excitement surrounding the results that you will receive post-operation. However, at the same time, women may experience some confusion and nervousness regarding what recovery entails, how long it lasts, and what one needs to do to manage the process effectively. In this blog post, Dr. George Sanders, a leading breast augmentation surgeon serving the greater Los Angeles area, will offer counsel and advice on what to expect during breast augmentation surgery recovery.
Breast Augmentation: An Uncomplicated Process
Breast augmentation has been heralded in recent years as the most popular cosmetic procedure that many women pursue to enhance their physical looks and self-confidence. And because the procedure has become so commonplace, breast augmentation recovery has been recognized as something that is uncomplicated and relatively straightforward.
Even so, there are still some rules that a patient recovering from breast augmentation must follow in order to make certain that optimal results are realized. Follow this guide as you consider your own recovery from breast augmentation surgery and ensure a stress-free experience.
What Should Be Expected Immediately After Breast Augmentation Surgery?
When you initially wake up from your surgery and the effects of the anesthesia used during your procedure wear off, you will find that you have been moved into a recovery room. At this point, it is completely normal to feel a bit disoriented and sluggish. However, as these immediate symptoms subside, one might begin to feel some light to moderate pain. Your plastic surgeon will provide you with medication to manage this.
You will be encouraged to get up out of bed and walk a little around the room to promote blood flow and avoid clotting. When you receive the all-clear from your medical team, you will be discharged into the care of a loved one or friend, who will be responsible for driving you home and helping you get situated.
Tips for Recovering from Breast Augmentation Safely and Quickly
Much of the recovery process from breast augmentation surgery is centered around ensuring you engage in appropriate behavior and make positive lifestyle choices. The following points will cover what you should and should not be doing in a post-surgical state.
Proper Nutrition is Key
The foundation of good health is based on giving your body the nutrition it needs to function correctly. When you are recovering from breast augmentation surgery, this is especially true. After all, your body requires good food and a balanced diet, so it has the energy to fuel the healing process. Therefore, eat a diet that is comprised of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains. And, of course, make sure you stay well hydrated and drink plenty of water.
One item to be aware of is that some pain medications could make you feel a bit sick to your stomach. Speak with Dr. Sanders about the medications you are prescribed, and if nausea happens to be a potential side effect, then do not take your medication on an empty stomach.
Limit Physical Activity
While breast augmentation is a surgery that is considered commonplace and normal, it is important that you must also realize that you are still recovering from a major operation. Therefore, being aware of the physical activity you engage in is very important, as anything too strenuous can cause post-surgery complications.
Dr. Sanders will advise you to avoid exercise and physical activity, including jumping, running and lifting heavy items or weights for approximately two to four weeks after your breast augmentation surgery. Furthermore, in the time and days directly after your surgery, it would be wise to enlist the help of a spouse, partner, friend, or parent who can provide you with assistance, mind your children, and help you out with any household chores and cooking.
Additionally, seek to avoid activities that require you to put your hands over your head, such as when washing your hair or reaching for an item on a high shelf. The reason for this is because making this motion could possibly put stress on your sutures, and you do not want these to reopen.
Keep in mind that you will also not be able to drive home from the doctor’s office, so ask someone you can trust to give you a ride in order to enable a positive recovery right from the beginning.
It is likely that you will begin to feel back to your old self within about a week or two after your surgery. Just keep in mind that you normally require four weeks until you are able to resume normal pre-surgery activities. Plus, you will want to consult with your plastic surgeon as to when you can expect to resume your normal exercise routine.
Remain Aware of Your Sleep Position
After your breast augmentation surgery, place heightened awareness on your sleep position. It will be necessary for you to sleep on your back or on your side and avoid stomach sleeping in particular, as the latter sleep position carries with it the potential to displace your implants.
The ideal sleep position during the recovery process is back sleeping, as this will relieve pressure on the breasts while promoting proper blood circulation. Back sleeping will also encourage the breast implants to settle into place within your body.
Furthermore, make certain you are getting enough sleep each night as this will aid in a speedy recovery.
Caring for Your Incisions
For the first five to seven days after your breast augmentation surgery, it will be imperative that you make certain your incisions remain clean and cared for in order to avoid infection. Accomplish this by showering per your plastic surgeon’s guidance. In your recovery, be advised that baths are not recommended.
When you are done showering, cover your incisions with dry, clean gauze. Typically, a breast augmentation patient will only have to adhere to this process for the two weeks directly after surgery; however, consult with your plastic surgeon to guarantee you are following his or her instructions.
Note that if you experience any warning signs that could indicate incision infection, including swelling, redness, discharge, a fever, or drainage, contact your doctor immediately.
The Best Clothing for a Full Recovery
Your breasts will be tender and sensitive following your breast augmentation surgery. Therefore, another important component to consider as part of your recovery from breast augmentation surgery is the clothing you wear. It is recommended that you wear loose-fitting, breathable clothes during your recovery as these garments will help you feel more comfortable and unrestricted. Additionally, wear a recovery or compression bra that provides ample support and offers some added protection to the incision area. These bras are generally softer than regular bras and keep your breasts from moving around too much.
Plus, avoid bras that have an underwire as these types of bras can be rough on your incisions and could cause irritation. Look for an underwire-free bra that helps your breasts to heal naturally.
Another helpful component to look for in a recovery bra is one that features a front closure. These bras can offer much-needed compression and support while also allowing you to easily put on the bra without straining and struggling to clasp a closure in the middle of your back.
Returning to Work After Breast Augmentation Surgery
As you prepare for your breast augmentation surgery, it is necessary to speak with your plastic surgeon about formulating a reasonable timeline for when you can expect to return to work. Of course, this is dependent on the progress you make in your immediate recovery as well as your overall health and wellness. For most women, you can expect to be able to return to work within the first two weeks of your recovery, provided there are no adverse complications or issues experienced.
The amount of time that a person needs to take off of work varies from one woman to the next—and it is also important to consider what you do for a living and if physical labor or heavy lifting is part of your job.
In order to determine how much time you may need to take off in order to promote a proper recovery from breast augmentation surgery, consult directly with your medical team.
What to Avoid During Breast Augmentation Recovery
Of course, while there are plenty of behaviors and lifestyle choices to emulate during your breast augmentation surgery recovery, there are also some behaviors to avoid in order to ensure your good health and wellness in the long term—as well as realize the full effects of the surgery you just went through.
It is recommended that you avoid:
- Smoking: You are likely well aware that smoking is bad for your health—with or without having just undergone breast augmentation surgery. However, know that smoking during the recovery process can create a negative impact on the results of your surgery. Smoking inhibits and constricts blood flow, which will slow the healing process. Yes, abstinence can be challenging, but in order to realize positive outcomes with your surgery (as well as your long-term good health), plastic surgeons will often recommend avoiding smoking as well as anything that contains nicotine for a month after the operation.
- Sunbathing: It is true that many people appreciate a good tan; however, in your recovery from breast augmentation surgery, it is recommended you avoid the sun’s rays. This is due to the sun’s ability to cause hyperpigmentation. This means that the skin that is directly underneath the small scars from your surgery could end up looking darker than the surrounding skin. You should avoid the sun until your surgery scars begin to fade.
- Underwire bras: As we noted, recovery or compression bras are recommended—and they must not have an underwire in order to protect your incisions from becoming irritated. Yes, you may be tempted to try on some of the lingerie you have been accumulating as you eagerly wait to see your surgery’s final results, but we encourage you to avoid this until you are confident the healing process is complete.
- Stomach Sleeping: Again, the preferred sleeping position for breast augmentation surgery recovery is on the back. Stomach sleeping can create major complications, including causing your implants to shift into incorrect positions.
- Swimming: Taking a dip in the ocean or even a pool has the potential of exposing your incisions to infection. Even in a chlorinated pool, there is a considerable risk. It is recommended that you take a break from swimming for exercise or simply to cool off during your recovery time.
- Alcohol: Some plastic surgeons recommend that a patient avoid consuming alcohol prior to their surgery. On the same note, abstaining from alcoholic beverages for a week or two after surgery can improve your immune response and enable your recovery time to be that much quicker.
- Sexual activity: Now, anticipating the results of your surgery may have you eager to get into the bedroom with your partner, but you are encouraged to wait just a little while or take precautions if you are considering having sex. Make sure you wear a bra and engage in positions where pressure is not put on your breasts if you choose to have sex during recovery.
Managing Pain During Recovery
Experiencing pain after breast augmentation surgery is a completely normal response—especially in the first couple of days after the procedure is complete. Depending on your personal pain tolerance, as well as the breast augmentation surgical technique that was used, you may experience more or less pain when compared to other patients. Medication will be prescribed to you, and it is important that you follow dosing guidelines on your particular prescription.
If you are feeling as if you are not getting adequate pain relief from the medication you have been prescribed, you should call your surgeon to learn about other methods of relief or to pursue a different form of pain management.
Breast Augmentation Complications
As with any medical surgery, there is a chance of experiencing a complication. However, this is minimized if you work with your plastic surgeon and follow the plan that has been developed specifically for you.
Make certain you understand what potential complications could surface prior to undergoing breast augmentation surgery:
- Capsular contracture: This is one of the most prevalent breast augmentation complications and occurs when a capsule, which is a pocket comprised of scar tissue, forms around the breast implant. The scar tissue, then, constricts the capsule, hardens, and might become distorted in shape. When this occurs, severe discomfort and breast pain can be experienced. The condition is addressed by removing the implant and pursuing a capsulectomy—with or without replacement of the implant.
- Implant Rippling: This condition is present when noticeable rippling appears on the breast implant’s surface and happens when overlying tissue ends up sticking to the implant. Typically presenting on the cleavage area of the breasts, rippling is common with textured implants, saline implants, as well as in women who have little breast tissue or very thin breast tissue. The condition can be addressed by switching to silicone, implementing fat grafting, as well as other strategies.
- Bottoming Out: This complication occurs when a woman’s implant begins descending toward the breast’s lower pole, thereby stretching out the distance between the inframammary crease and the nipple. This causes the nipple to appear as if it is sitting too high on the breast while making the upper pole look very flat. It is most commonly experienced in patients who have sub-par skin elasticity stemming from pregnancy, dramatic weight loss, bariatric surgery, medications, breastfeeding, and other conditions. While it can be treated via surgery, it is uncommon in most situations.
- Implant Rupture: This condition refers to when the outer shell of the implant breaks. It can happen with both silicone and saline implants. When it happens in a saline implant, the breast will go flat. However, in a silicone implant, it is not always immediately obvious because the silicone is not absorbed by the body. Regardless of the implant’s makeup, this condition is not dangerous but will require the implant to be removed, the pocket cleaned out, and the implant replaced.
These are some of the primary complications women must be aware of when contemplating breast augmentation surgery. For more detailed information, speak with a board-certified plastic surgeon about your health, wellness, risk factors, as well as any other concerns that you may have. Additionally, ensure you follow the plastic surgeon’s advice to improve your potential of realizing a positive outcome from your breast augmentation surgery and subsequent recovery.
Learn More About Breast Augmentation Surgery
If you are interested in learning more about breast augmentation surgery and how the procedure can help you get the beautiful and natural-looking breasts that allow you to meet your aesthetic goals, consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon and understand the options that are available to you.
And for women living in the greater Los Angeles, California area, Dr. Sanders invites you to reach out directly to discuss your options and a plan for care that will enable you to achieve the individual results you have been envisioning.