Breast Augmentation Recovery
Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure designed to alter the appearance of the female breasts, usually by means of breast implants. When considering breast augmentation, it is important to be prepared not only for the procedure itself, but for the recovery period.
The better prepared you are to have a comfortable, restful recovery, the sooner you can expect results. While a breast augmentation is a surgical procedure, it is minimally invasive and usually done on an outpatient basis. As such, recovery is generally smooth, with minimal complications.
Breast Implant Recovery Time
Because every woman and every procedure are different, every recovery is different. Factors that can influence recovery include what type of anaesthesia was used, the type, size, and placement of implants, the type of incision made, the number of simultaneous procedures (e.g. breast lift), and the age and overall health of the patient. Generally speaking, the initial recovery period lasts about a week, during which time bed rest is recommended, with minimal movement. Most patients find they can return to non-strenuous work after this period. Full recovery can take up to a few months.
Right After Surgery
In most cases, general anaesthesia will be used, and patients are advised to make travel arrangements from the clinic as they will be unable to drive, and driving is not recommended for at least a week following surgery. Submuscular implant placement, while generally resulting in fewer long-term complications, makes for a longer and more difficult recovery because of the deep-tissue cuts made into the chest muscles. In addition, patients undergoing simultaneous breast augmentation and breast lift, or simply a more extensive breast augmentation, may experience slightly longer recovery times. Your implants may take a few weeks to “settle in,” and may initially sit higher on the chest.
First Week after the Surgery
Some tenderness, swelling, and bruising can be expected following your procedure. Most patients report mild to moderate pain, which can be managed with over-the-counter or prescription pain medication (excluding Aspirin). These side effects should subside after a few days. Mild chest tightness, hardness, and slightly impaired breathing are also normal for the first day or two, but any sudden or severe cardiovascular symptoms should be immediately reported to a doctor, as should any sudden, severe, or long-lasting pain, redness, bruising, bleeding, burning, swelling, deflation, lumps, foul discharge, and fever.
Showering can normally be resumed the day after surgery, although baths should be avoided for at least six weeks following your breast augmentation procedure. Patients are advised to keep the surgical area clean and dry, and to apply any topical antibiotics prescribed, in order to minimize the risk of infection. Patients are advised to immediately report to their surgeon any sudden fever or foul discharge, as these may be signs of infection. The surgical area should remain covered with a medical gauze, and your surgeon may recommend a compression bandage or support garment, such as a sports bra. Your surgeon will provide you with detailed, individualized post-operative care instructions.
Scars & Skin Care
Scarring should be minimal following surgery, and will be generally well-hidden depending on the incision type used. With proper care, scars should heal after approximately 6 weeks, and fade over time to a thin pale line. Tanning and direct sunlight should be avoided in the months following surgery, as they may damage the skin and make scarring more visible.
Tips on Speeding Up Your Breast Surgery Recovery
Your surgeon may also recommend breast massage and arm exercises intended to stimulate blood flow to the surgical area in order to promote healing, alleviate pain, and minimize the formation of scar tissue. You should avoid any activities that could raise your pulse or blood pressure for a few weeks, as this could worsen bruising, bleeding, and swelling, delaying recovery. Similarly, strenuous activity and heavy lifting, as well as any excessive bending or stretching should be avoided for a few weeks following surgery, in order to avoid the risk of tearing sutures. Smoking and drinking alcohol are also best avoided, as they can cause bruising, bleeding, and interfere with healing. Similarly, any medications and substances that are anticoagulants, such as Aspirin and some anti-inflammatories, should be avoided entirely for a few weeks following surgery in order to reduce bleeding risk. There is a long list of herbal and diet supplements, such as gingko biloba, echinacea, St. John’s Wort, valerian root, and Vitamin E, that may also interfere with recovery, and it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid all herbal supplements in the weeks before and after surgery, as well as to inform your surgeon of any medications, including herbal supplements, you might be taking.
Your surgeon will schedule follow-up appointments in order to ensure that everything is going smoothly and to address any of your recovery concerns. Ultimately, rest is the key to recovery. Maintaining a healthy immune system through a balanced diet and ample sleep should make your recovery as quick and comfortable as possible, and give you optimal results.