Breast Augmentation is a very common surgery in the United States. Currently, over 300,000 women undergo augmentation each year, and that number continues to grow. It is a procedure that can be done safely and leaves women feeling more confident and happy about their shape. Still, each one of these women worry about how they are going to cope with the pain and healing during their recovery time. Every patient’s experience is a little different, but most state the hardest part is the first few days. The muscles of the chest tighten in response to the surgery and can be comparable to a ‘charlie horse’ in the muscle. Pain medicine and muscle relaxers are prescribed to help with the discomfort. Most patients take these every 4 hours for the first day, and then start to taper off of them. Typically, by 3-4 days after surgery most patients are off the narcotics and replace them with Tylenol as this will be strong enough to keep them comfortable.
After surgery, it is very important to avoid lifting heavy objects and strenuous exercise. Maximum lifting for the first few weeks is about 5-10lbs. Patients are able to walk right away after surgery, but for the first week walking should be restricted to just around the house. After that patients can gradually advance with walking, but not actual exercising or try to get their heartrate up until roughly 3-4 weeks, depending on healing and swelling. Too much activity too soon can lead to bleeding, worsening swelling or even popping stitches and delay healing overall.
Most patients with a sedentary job can go back to work after 5-7 days, but if the job requires lifting or physical labor then patients may need to wait longer to return. Another option is returning to work with restrictions until they are healed enough to resume the usual duties. Normally, by 4-6 weeks all restrictions are lifted and patients can resume all rigorous activity.
The scars from augmentation also go through stages and take a long time to fully heal. There are many ways to close the wounds, but most external stitches are out by 4-6 weeks. At that point patients can use scar creams or oils to help the scars fade quicker. Each plastic surgeon has their own routine with scar care so patients should always ask their surgeon before starting anything new. Scars usually start to fade by 2-3 months, but they will not reach their final appearance until at least 12-18 months after surgery. Usually, scars are just a thin white line when they are fully healed.
Going ahead with an elective surgery like this can be very scary, but remember over 300,000 women a year go through the same experience, and the vast majority are happy and glad they did it, despite the recovery period! It would be appropriate to speak with a board-certified plastic surgeon for further information.