Breast Augmentation Recovery 101
The numbers prove it. Women are clamoring for breast augmentation like never before. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that 290,467 procedures were performed in 2016, the most current statistics available. Fueled by celebrities looking for a bit more “oomph,” the trend shows no signs of letting up.
There are many reasons why women are opting to have breast augmentation. Some of these reasons are related to self-image. Our patients tell us that they feel better, more confident and that they look better in their clothes. Some women want to address asymmetrical breasts and others want their entire body to look more proportional. Women today are being offered highly customized solutions to fit their body type with many women deciding to go from a small “B” cup to a small “C” cup. Just enough to get noticed but not too much like Pamela Anderson in “Baywatch,” in the 1990’s.
Breast augmentation offers good value for the money. It is a relatively short surgery; recovery time is reasonable and the results are long lasting. Like any other procedure, though, breast enhancement surgery is still surgery and there are steps you can take to make sure your recovery goes smoothly.
Have a Plan
Having a plan helps our patients stay focused and calm. Having a positive attitude and understanding that you are going to have some redness, swelling and bruising following surgery before you look better is very important.
Start preparing for your surgery two weeks before the actual procedure. Your doctor will tell you which medications to avoid but typically they include blood thinners like aspirin, warfin and ibuprofen. Make sure you complete all your pre-op lab work, and have it forwarded to our offices. If you are a smoker, it is very important to quit before the surgery and after, as well. Smoking interferes with both the surgery and the healing process. You will need to arrange for someone to drive you to surgery and back, as well as someone to be available the first day following your surgery.
If you have children, it would be beneficial to have a partner or someone you trust stay with you as it will not be possible for you to pick up your children for a little post-surgery. Set up your recovery area before the surgery so you do not have to worry about it immediately after your procedure. Make sure everything is within reach, so you will not need to raise your arms. Stock up on pillows or a large reclining pillow works well too. Make sure you have extra blankets, comfortable sleepwear and plenty of magazines and books. Practical amenities include bottled water and lip balm. Have your laptop, tablet, charged cell phone and the television remote nearby.
Have a list ready for your caregiver that will include any important phone numbers (especially your surgeon’s).
Your doctor may recommend that you purchase steristrips for your incision, arnica montana to reduce swelling and Mederma to treat your scars. Make sure you ask your doctor before applying any treatment to your incision.
You should consider planning for easy to eat comfort food, such as Jello, puddings, mashed potatoes or protein shakes. Anything that’s easy to prepare and that’s easy to get down will make eating following your procedure easier.
One week prior to your surgery, confirm your hotel reservations if you decide to stay in hotel near the surgery center or hospital. Confirm times with your driver. Fill your prescriptions and shop for any remaining items you will need. On the day of the surgery or the evening before your surgery take a shower and try to relax.
Congratulations! You’ve got everything lined up for recovery, but what actually happens during recovery and how should you expect to feel? Bear in mind if your best friend says she was out shopping the day following surgery that everyone heals differently. When it comes to cosmetic surgery, it is essential to remember that “patience is a virtue.” Not only does everyone heal differently, people all feel differently, and everyone will experience recovery differently.
On the Road to Recovery
Stage 1: Immediately following surgery, when you awaken from surgery you may feel woozy. You may have a compression band across your breasts and you may feel tightness from your surgery. Once you are out of the surgery center and in the recovery area you have prepared, I suggest that you recline rather than lie flat. Remember those pillows and the bed recliner? Now is the time to make use of them and prop yourself up to relieve pressure. Most surgeons allow their patients their shower 24 hours following surgery.
Make sure to remove any bandages prior to showering. Baths should be avoided because healing tissues should not be soaked.
Stage 2: First week following surgery to the 3rd week following surgery. At this point you will have noticed bruising and swelling. Both the bruising and swelling will peak between 36 and 48 hours after surgery and then will begin to subside. You will experience soreness under the arms, however you can walk, just do not swing your arms. Again, do not swim as still water and chlorine can impact the healing of your incisions. It is best to try to lie down to rest or sleep on your side or back.
At week 2 you can begin to increase your cardio exercise slightly by walking on a treadmill. You should still avoid heavy lifting. Be sure take all medication that has been prescribed for you. The good news is you are on your way to recovery.
Stage 3: From week 3 to week 6. At this point you should be seeing improvement and beginning to enjoy the results of your surgery. You can engage in more activities and as your incisions close, you can start to apply topical creams and vitamin E to control scarring. At week 6 you are good to go as far as exercise but if you have had implants placed under the muscle it is a good idea to refrain from doing pushups. As always, clear any exercise you would like to pursue with your doctor.
Stage 4: Six weeks post-surgery, you are considered healed, but your results will continue to improve. Your breasts will continue to settle down and look more natural. Be sure to keep your follow up appointments with your doctor. Gentle self-massage may help with scarring.
Some patients wonder how they will feel following breast enlargement surgery. Most feel fantastic. Having realistic expectations for your surgery and results is key to a positive experience. Don’t compare yourself to others who have gone through the process and remember that everybody has a different experience and body. Having an open line of communication with your plastic surgeon is important, make sure to follow their instructions and your recovery should go smoothly!
Some women wonder who and how to tell about their upcoming augmentation surgery. It is a very personal decision.
Telling your children: Talking to your children about breast enhancement surgery depends on their maturity level. Children don’t need to know every detail of your surgery. If you decide to be vague about the type of cosmetic surgery you are about to undergo, simply reassure your children that this is an elective surgery and you will be up and about soon.
Tougher decisions are what do you tell your parents, friends and your boss. There may be a noticeable difference following surgery. If so, your boss is unlikely to ask details. You may decide to tell your office that you will be taking off for elective surgery and leave it at that. Your mother and sister on the other hand may come right out and ask you after. Who you tell and what you tell is a personal situation and will depend on the person.
Please rest assured that most breast augmentation surgeries are successful. To ensure your safety, rely on the skill of a board certified plastic surgeon who has committed to years of training and has the sophisticated knowledge of anatomy. The American Society of Plastic Surgeon’s ensures your safety by setting the gold standard in cosmetic and reconstructive patient care and treatment.
Dr. Ali Sajjadian is a triple board certified plastic surgeon with certifications from the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the American Board of Otolaryngology, as well as the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Dr. Sajjadian is highly regarded by his peers and has earned the trust of his patients. Set an appointment with Dr. Sajjadian and learn about the exciting options available for breast enhancement.