Aug 09, 2012

Recovering from Breast Augmentation: Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the most common questions about breast augmentation involve the recovery process. Women want to know how long it will take to heal, what their breasts will look like and what they can do to make their scars less noticeable. Your plastic surgeon will give you detailed instructions on how to take care of your incision sites, check for signs of infection and prevent scarring after surgery.

How long does recovery typically take?

Unless your plastic surgeon wants you to stay overnight for observation, you will probably be discharged from the hospital or surgical center on the same day as your surgery. The average post-operative recovery time is 24 to 48 hours, and you'll probably want to take it easy for one to two weeks after that initial period. Your surgeon will recommend that you limit activities like exercise, lifting heavy objects or engaging in sexual activity for several weeks until your incisions have healed.

What will my breasts look like?

Don't be alarmed if your breasts look nothing like what you expected after surgery. Swelling and bruising can distort the appearance of your breasts, making them appear big, puffy and discolored. The swelling may make them look and feel hard and round. Your incision lines will be closed by sutures or Steri-strips, which will be removed at a follow-up appointment with your plastic surgeon. In some cases, a plastic surgeon may insert drains to release excess fluid from the area around your breasts. It may take as long as six weeks for the swelling to subside to completely, and up to six months or more until you see the final results of your breast enhancement.

Will I have a lot of pain?

Every woman has a different pain threshold, and the amount of discomfort you experience after surgery may not be the same as any other patient. Some plastic surgeons give their patients a pain pump to infuse medication directly into the muscle tissues for the first day or two. Other surgeons prescribe oral medication to relieve pain or muscle cramps.

What can I do to minimize scars?

In the weeks after surgery, your plastic surgeon will probably advise you to wear a compression bra or a sports bra to keep swelling under control and protect the healing tissues. Some surgeons recommend supplements or creams, like arnica, bromelain, vitamin K cream or an oral multivitamin to reduce swelling and speed up the healing process.

For the first month, avoid exposing the area to direct sunlight. Your plastic surgeon can recommend a protective sunscreen to use on the incision areas after the initial recovery period. Once healing is underway, your surgeon may recommend that you use silicone scar sheets or apply topical moisturizing creams to the incision lines.