Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure that increases the size of the breasts. Recovery from the surgery can take several weeks.
Breast augmentation is generally considered to be major surgery. It requires special preparation and recovery times.
Recovery can vary between people, though a person should expect it to take approximately 6 weeks to get fully back to normal.
This article reviews what a person can expect when preparing for recovery and what recovery may be like, as well as tips for recovery, when to seek medical help, and more.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons notes that breast augmentation surgery takes several weeks for full recovery. During this time, most people should plan to have the most help in the first 24 hours and the following few days after the procedure.
For the first few days, a person should plan to have a family member or friend stay with them to help with everyday tasks. After about 1 week, a person may be able to return to most activities.
However, a person should talk with their surgical team about when it will be safe to return to activities and for advice on what to do to prepare for the first few days postsurgery.
A person may find that adjusting their home setup may help. This may include:
- placing items within easy reach, like food, soaps, and other necessary or desired items
- setting up a temporary bed near a bathroom to avoid excessive movements
- getting a postsurgical bra and other clothing that is easy to get on and off
What type of bra should a person wear during recovery?
A surgeon may recommend a person wear a recovery bra. Postsurgical bras provide support with soft fabrics and no underwires.
A person should be able to wear them all day and night with no issues to help the tissue of the breasts recover and repair.
Plastic surgeons typically recommend that a person plan for about 6 weeks of total recovery. However, they also note this time frame can vary greatly based on a person’s overall health, how well the body responds to surgery, and other factors.
Some people may feel better within 1 week, while others may need additional time to recover. A person should discuss their recovery with their surgical team to get their estimates on recovery as well as suggestions for during recovery.
Though everyone is different, the pain will be at its most intense in the first 24 hours postsurgery. A person may be able to treat the pain with over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen.
In some cases, a doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications or muscle relaxants to help with the pain.
After the surgery, a person may feel:
- tightness in the chest
- a loss of sensitivity or oversensitivity in the breasts
- severe pain and discomfort
A person should plan to have a family member or friend drive them home from the procedure and stay with them for at least an overnight.
The pain should start to lessen after a few days.
At this point, a person may experience mild pain or discomfort.
Within about 1 week, a person may be able to return to some of their normal activities. They should discuss their return to activities with their surgical team to determine what they may be ready to do.
During this time, a person will need to continue to follow any postsurgery directions. These may include:
- massaging the tissue
- avoiding strenuous activities
- avoiding lifting their arms above their head
After about 3–4 weeks, a person should no longer feel much pain or discomfort. The swelling and bruising should begin to go away.
Many people can return to normal activities, including potentially light exercise. They will likely need to avoid more strenuous activities during this time.
A person will likely need to continue wearing a postsurgical bra to help promote proper healing.
After about 4–6 weeks, a person may be fully recovered. They may be able to return to all normal activities with no restrictions.
Before returning to all activities, a person should schedule a visit with their surgeon. The surgeon can check the implants and clear the person for all normal activities.
Typically, a person will fully heal within 6 weeks to 2 months. However, a person should have their surgeon examine the implants and check to make sure they have healed correctly, and that no new areas of concern have appeared.
The breasts should have a more natural look and feel around the time a person is ready to resume their usual activities.
A person can take some steps to help ease their recovery when at home. Some potentially helpful steps include:
- wearing loose-fitting clothing and a postsurgical bra
- preparing the home ahead of time
- taking medications as prescribed
- following all instructions the surgeon provides and tending to the incisions to help prevent infections
- eating a nutritious diet
- avoiding strenuous activities
- arranging for a family or friend to stay with them during the first few days
A person should discuss returning to work with their surgeon.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons states that many people can return to work within 1 week, depending on how well their body heals.
If a person has a labor-intensive job, they should avoid going back to work for at least 3 weeks.
For best results, a person should follow all instructions from their surgical team following the procedure.
During recovery, a person should also watch for signs of infection after surgery. Breast implant infections
Early signs of infection include:
- inflammation or blotchy skin coloring
A person should schedule an appointment as soon as possible if they suspect they may have developed an infection after breast augmentation surgery.
A person should also watch for signs of hematoma, or blood collection. A person should notify their surgeon if they notice any significant swelling on one side after surgery. This can mean blood is collecting around the implant and needs to be removed.
Additionally, a person should contact their surgeon if they have any concerns about the results of the surgery. This could include things such as seeing the implant through the skin or mismatched breast size.
Recovering from breast augmentation surgery can take several weeks. In most cases, a person will notice slow improvements and a gradual return to most activities.
During recovery, a person should follow all instructions their surgeon provides. This will help recovery and prevent infections and other complications.