Breast Augmentation Recovery Complete Guide
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Breast Augmentation Recovery Complete Guide

Before your breast augmentation surgery, it’s important to learn about the recovery process so you know how long it will take to see the expected results, how to recover quickly and healthily and how long you may need to take off work. You will be out of action for a while so make sure to mark the time in your diary and remember not to buy new bras and bikinis until the date of your final results. 

Every woman and every breast is different. The pace of your breast augmentation recovery can differ depending on the technique of the surgeon, the aftercare you put in and the state of your overall health and lifestyle. We’ve created this guide to help you know what to expect and the precautions to take, but don’t panic if you experience something a little different. At the bottom of the article, we have noted the signs and symptoms to look out for and when to call your doctor or surgeon. 

The type of breast augmentation surgery you undergo will also have an impact on the recovery process. A fat transfer instead of implants, for example, is less invasive and therefore less recovery time is needed. The place of the incision can also impact the recovery. Under the breast may cause more discomfort and take longer to heal than at the armpit.

Breast Augmentation Recovery Time

How Long Does Breast Augmentation Recovery Take?

There are several stages to the breast augmentation recovery process and it can take up to 6 months for your breasts to reach their final results. The pain should subside within 2 weeks and you should be able to return to physical activity after about 6 weeks. 

How Long Does It Take For Breast Implants To Take Shape?

The final results you are hoping to see should be visible after about 3-4 months but can take up to 6. This is when the scars will be at their lowest visibility and your breasts and nipples should be in their final position. 

How Soon After Breast Surgery Can I Drive? 

It is advised to wait at least a week after breast surgery before taking the wheel. Steering and sudden movements are strenuous on the breast tissue, which can disrupt the recovery process. 

How Soon Can I Go Back To Work After Breast Augmentation? 

If your work is low impact you should be fine to take 3-4 days of work but if more is physically required of your body then it could take 1-2 weeks. You shouldn’t go back to regular physical activities for at least a month after surgery. 

If you can fulfil work tasks without a lot of movement, such as sitting at a desk, it is still advised to wait 7-10 days as you should be resting until then. For strenuous activity, you should wait at least 5-6 weeks, which includes activities like lifting. 

When Can I Take a Hot Shower After Breast Augmentation?

How soon you can have a shower after surgery will depend on the surgical techniques and dressings the surgeon has used. If a surgeon has used surgical glue to close the incisions, you are usually able to shower within 48 hours. If a surgeon has used dressings, the patient may be advised to wait until after the first wound check before showering. The water you use should be lukewarm. Make sure to pat the incisions dry afterwards. Do not submerge yourself in water until 5-6 weeks after your surgery. 

How Long Do Incisions Hurt After Breast Augmentation? 

Incisions can be itchy, tender and feel uncomfortable for a few weeks after surgery as the nerve endings slowly knit back. It should take about a week for the discomfort around your incisions to subside. Bleeding at the incision may occur during this week but check in with your surgeon if it continues or if there is a lot of blood. The incisions should close fully in 2-4 weeks. 

Can I Fly After Breast Augmentation? 

We advise you not to fly until at least a week after your surgery as the first week is when complications are most common. You don’t want to perform any activities that may increase blood pressure for the first month. Your blood pressure may increase if you are particularly stressed or need to run to catch your flight. You should also avoid carrying heavy baggage or becoming dehydrated, which can happen with the dry cabin air. 

Is It Normal For One Breast To Heal Faster Than The Other After Breast Augmentation?

Your breasts may heal at different times and you may have to wait until the final results at the 6-month mark until your breasts look even. Always remember that breast augmentation recovery is a journey that can't be rushed.

Timeline: Breast Augmentation Recovery

Day 1 of Your Breast Augmentation Surgery

It is likely you will be able to go home the same day as your breast augmentation surgery, however, some surgeons prefer to keep their patients overnight, especially if they have a late admission. Whether leaving the clinic via car or public transport, make sure someone is there to collect you as you will still be drowsy from the anaesthesia. You will need to spend the next 48 hours resting as much as possible so it would be handy to have some company around the house in case you need some assistance. Make sure you have plenty to keep you entertained, such as books and movies, in the interim between dozing and meal times. 

Steps To Take

Your surgeon or nurse will likely help you put on your compression bra after surgery. Sometimes, they will even put it on while you are under anaesthetic so you wake up wearing it. Wear this bra 24/7 for at least 6 weeks for a safe and speedy recovery. Wear light and comfortable clothing, stay on track with your prescribed medication, eat nutritiously and drink plenty of water. Don’t shower or get your breasts wet for the first couple of days. 

The Appearance of your Breasts Will Change

Try not to worry about the appearance of your breasts in the early days after surgery. Implants are probably going to sit higher and look more compressed, firmer and tighter than they will further along the recovery process. Your nipples may also sit lower than the final results in these early days. The crescent shape of your cleavage may resemble male pecs but will start to round further down the line as the skin starts to soften up.

What To Expect On Days 5-7 Of Breast Augmentation Recovery

It is normal to experience the most bruising, swelling and pain during the days at the end of your first week. Your nipples will still appear low, there might be slight rounding at the bottom but they will still appear as pecs. Itching or burning is normal.

Steps to Take

Remember to take your pain medication as prescribed. Although you should spend the majority of your time resting, moving around a little will help to get the blood flowing, which will help to reduce pain from swelling and lower the risk of blood clots.

What To Expect One-Month Post Breast Augmentation Surgery

At this stage, your breasts may be less compressed and the shape of your breasts may have softened as the skin starts to accommodate the implants. The process will vary depending on the individual and their skin elasticity. For patients with tight skin, nipples will start to elevate and breasts will start to drop at one month post surgery, but breasts will still likely sit high on the upper torso. By this stage, your scar tissue should have formed around your incisions.

Steps To Take

You can start going back to regular activities, such as biking and walking, but avoid strenuous exercise or anything that involves bouncing. If implants have been placed submuscular, patients may need to wait a while longer to go biking as the pressure leaning on a handlebar can be too much, particularly if the ground is not flat.

5-6 Weeks After Your Breast Augmentation Surgery 

Your breasts should start to look much more natural but asymmetry is still normal due to differences in recovery for each breast. Your breasts should be softer but could still be firm on the side. Although you may experience some shooting pains there should not be a lot of discomfort. 

Steps To Take

Move onto a stage 2 compression garment. By stage 2, your body has healed somewhat but still requires maintenance. Compression will ensure your breast tissue remains in a healthy condition while you are resuming your daily life.

For more about stage 2 compression garments read our guidance here.

You may start to sleep on your side if it feels comfortable. Consult your surgeon before introducing strenuous activity back into your life, especially heavy lifting and pushing as these are the most demanding exercises for the affected area. If you do start rigorous physical activity, ensure to wear a fitted athletic bra.

You can go back to submerging yourself in water a week after your incisions have closed, which should be around 6 weeks after your surgery. It is best to get your surgeon to check the incisions first and give you the green light before taking a bath or going for a swim. 

How You Will Feel 3-4 Months Into Breast Augmentation Recovery

At this stage of breast augmentation recovery, you should be almost completely healed. All swelling and pain should have subsided but complete softening, dropping and rounding could still take some time. If you are still experiencing painful side effects, read our precautions below in case it is something more serious. 

Steps To Take

You may stop wearing your compression garments so regularly but it is advised to still wear a sleeping bra to maintain good positioning of the chest and keep the breast tissue in a healthy environment.

After 6 Months: Final Results Of Your Breast Augmentation Surgery 

You should now be fully recovered from your surgery and enjoying the final results.

Do’s and Don’ts Post Breast Augmentation Recovery

What You Should Not Do After Breast Augmentation Surgery

Things to avoid after breast augmentation surgery:

  • Worrying about the appearance straight after the surgery. How your breasts look during the first few days is not how the final results will be.
  • Getting the breasts wet during the first two days after the surgery. 
  • Submerging yourself in water, e.g swimming or bathing until your surgeon says it is okay to do so. 
  • Anything that elevates the heart rate or increases blood pressure for the first month. 
  • Sleeping on your side before 5-6 weeks.
  • Heavy lifting and pushing for the first 5-6 weeks. For mothers, this includes pushing a pram or lifting children. 
  • Jumping.
  • Wearing underwire bras. These can be painful and disrupt the final shape. 
  • Smoking. Smoking slows down the body’s healing process.

What Helps Healing After Breast Surgery?

Recovery Kit

During the first few days following your surgery, we recommend light movement to get the blood flowing. We also recommend preparing a recovery kit before your surgery, so you have everything you need available on your return from the clinic. This includes: 

  • Medication prescribed by your doctor or surgeon
  • Plenty of water 
  • Nutritious food full of protein 
  • Magazines 
  • Movies 
  • Comfy clothes 
  • Pillows
  • Baby wipes
  • Your compression garment

Compression Garments

Compression garments are necessary for a speedy and healthy recovery post surgery and help your body achieve your desired results. These should be worn 24/7 for at least 6 weeks for optimal recovery. You may then choose to move onto a stage 2 compression garment to enhance comfort and reduce recovery time.

Compression garments help to prevent complications due to blood clots, help keep implants in place, protect the incisions from becoming infected, limit bruising and improve recovery time by reducing swelling. Compression bras come in a variety of shapes and sizes. We recommend changing into a fresh and clean garment every day.

Read our guidance for what to look for when buying your compression bra

What Is The Best Bra To Wear After Breast Augmentation?

Surgeons recommend macom compression garments because they have been created by medical experts. They offer specific medical grade compression to reduce risks and support for a comfortable recovery. The garments are also expandable to accommodate breast size

changes during the recovery period. 

Three of macom’s Highly Recommended Compression Bras: 

The i-Bra – A popular compression bra for post breast augmentation.

The Ultimate Bra – A great all-rounder post-surgery bra, for all kinds of procedures.

Second Stage Bra - Perfect for continued support during the second stage of your recovery (after the first 6 weeks).

Explore more breast augmentation bras and support bands.

Breast Augmentation Recovery FAQs 

How Painful Is Breast Augmentation Recovery?

Some pain is to be expected following any surgery. Breast augmentation recovery usually necessitates the use of pain medication for a week or two, and then most patients find it is no longer required. The post-op pain should be most severe in the first few days, but it should never be unbearable. If you are in serious pain, speak to your nurse or surgeon.

Is It Normal To Be Constipated After Breast Augmentation? 

Constipation and bloating can occur post-breast augmentation surgery for a variety of reasons, such as stress, antibiotic and pain medication, the anaesthetic used and/or dehydration. We recommend eating a gut friendly diet as a precaution against bloating and some patients find it beneficial to take a topical supplement of probiotics if things get severe to feed the gut with good bacteria. Moving around a little will help to get the blood flowing and improve lymphatic drainage, which will optimise your body's natural waste disposal and help you recover faster, more comfortably, reduce swelling and lower many risks associated with surgery. Contact a doctor if your constipation or bleeding is severe or lasts more than a week.

Is It Normal To Feel Depressed After Breast Surgery? 

Patients feeling depressed or anxious after surgery is usually caused by the immediate aftermath or 'hangover' from having an anaesthetic, which essentially is a strong medical cocktail that a patient's system has to flush out. How that detox process affects each patient will be different but some may feel a bit 'blue' or depressed during this time.

When To Call a Doctor Or Your Surgeon

  • If constipation or bloating is particularly severe or occurs for more than a week.
  • Limb heaviness, tightness, achiness or discomfort.
  • If you experience signs of infection: 
    • Fever 
    • Breasts feel warm or feel overly full (hard, tight and painful) 
    • Pain and swelling persist or increase after the second week

Patient Journeys

Read our Patient Journeys to get an idea of what to expect from those who have been through a similar experience.

Tanya Found her compression bra so comfortable she wore it for 6 weeks and believes it helped to bring her breasts closer together.

Amy shares her experiences on days one and two post-surgery.

Katie shares her emotions pre and post-implant removal.

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