After Breast Augmentation

What can I expect from breast augmentation plastic surgery? How long will the procedure last?

Doctor Answers (21)

Breast augmentation works


Breast augmentation is one of the greatest plastic surgery operations out there. It enhances all of the features of your breasts by placing an implant under the pectoral muscle thus avoiding your breast tissues so you can still breast feed if interested.

It is all done through a small 4cm incision and the recovery lasts about a week at which point you can return to most of your activities. The results will last as long as the implant lasts. FDA recommends we exchange implants at around 12 to 15 years. There's no hard and fast rule but this is the recommendation.

Best wishes.

Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

What to expect after Breast Augmentation

Thank you for your post. There are a lot of variables to account for after breast augmentation and what to expect in the recovery process. Done well, breast augmentation can have a very long lasting beautiful result.  The following is an outline of what to expect after augmentation based on some of these variables:

1. Pain: In general, breast augmentation is tolerated very well. When the implant is placed sub-facial or sub-glandular, i.e. above the muscle, there is very little pain post-operative. The muscle is left in place and in general, when I perform this technique, women have surgery on Friday, and are back to work (as long as they are not lifting heavy objects) on Monday. When the implant is placed sub-muscular, then there more pain and soreness as the muscle has been elevated which is similiar to having a pulled or torn muscle. This creates more swelling and takes longer to heal. In these case, most women take at least a week off of work.

2. Swelling and Size: It is very common to be about a size bigger right after surgery than what your final result will be. Swelling starts to occur right after surgery and tends to peak in the first week. After about a month you will have lost most of the swelling, but still not completely at baseline. After about another 3 months or so, you will have lost 99% of your swelling, but still have a pretty good idea of your final size at 1 month. I wouldn't spend a lot of money on bras until 3 months though, as they might not fit perfectly after all the swelling goes away. Also, the more activity you have, the longer the swelling stays, the more that needs to be done as far as lift etc. with surgery, the longer your swelling stays. As stated above, going below the muscle tends to produce more swelling and lasts for longer.

3. Scars: The natural healing process undergoes multiple phases, but in general, the first phase is the inflamatory phase were any scar will be firmer and may turn red or darker initially. This tends to last for 3 months. After this phase is the resolution phase where the scar inflammation goes away and all scars will be at their baseline at 1 year. The scars are mostly at their baseline at 6 months. The scars should be minimal if placed well, and sutured properly. I also like to protect the scars from stretching or widening in the first few months with surgical skin tape. The incision will be weak at first and susceptible to stretch or widening.

4. Massage: Your doctor may recommend early or late massage, depending on what is trying to be accomplished. In general, early massage is to manipulate a high implant or stretch a constricted area, such as in tubular breast syndrome, and late massage is to help fight capsular contraction. Search 'Breast Massage' to find my recommendations on this.

5. Exercise: In general, I ask my patients to keep away from aerobic activities in the first 2 weeks following surgery. Increased activity can increase swelling and hyper-swelling can cause stretch marks. Following this, 'non-bouncing' aerobic activity is fine, such as speed walking or cycling, but would like to keep the implants from moving too much until the capsule that forms around the implant has a chance to heal and become stronger. At 6 weeks, I clear any type of activity.

6. Infection: Infection after augmentation is very rare. Most surgeon give post-operative antibiotics to help protect you from infection.

7. Hematoma/Seroma: These are also very rare after augmentation. If the pocket for the implant that is made during surgery is a hand in glove fit, then there is very little room for any fluid to collect. It is important that the surgical pocket be free of any bleeding prior to closure to keep a hematoma from happening. If a hematoma does occur, it is important to drain the hematoma to prevent capsular contraction.

8. Sleeping: I ask women to sleep on their backs with their post-operative bra on after surgery to keep the implants in their proper position until the capsule that forms around the implant has a chance to heal.

I hope this has answered most of your post-operative questions.

Best Wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Rapid recovery after breast augmentation - what to expect after surgery


Breast Augmentation is outpatient surgery. It generally procedure takes usually less than one hour.   After surgery, you may experience some mild soreness that should be easily managed with one-two pain pills every 6 hours as needed. Usually, my patients do not require pain medications beyond 2-3 days. After surgery you will have swelling in the upper pole of your breast. This swelling resolves over 2-3 weeks. I recommend no heavy lifting or strenuous activity for 3-4 weeks after surgery. Usually, 24-48 hrs after surgery, most patients feel comfortable doing regular daily activities (minus any heavy lifting or strenuous activity). After 3 to 4 weeks from the date of your surgery, I clear patients to resume activity as tolerated.

C. Bob Basu, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 128 reviews

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Breast augmentation length of surgery


The length of time is takes to perform a breast augmentation varies based on a number of variables.  First, and foremost is the experience of the plastic surgeon.  Second, is whether or not additional procedures are being performed at the same time such as a lift.  Lastly, a patient's anatomy and the approach can play a role in the length of the procedure.  Typically, a breast augmentation performed alone, can take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours.  Frequently, the fastest surgeon, is not the best choice for obvious reasons.  It's surgery, not a race.

Kelly Gallego, MD, FACS
Yuba City Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Breast augmentation takes about 45 minutes and has a varying degree of post-op pain.


Breast augmentation is a simple and safe operation.  The pain depends on placement of the implant.  If it is placed above the muscle, the pain is minimal.  Placement below the muscle is more painful, most patients stating that the chest feels excessively "tight".  The procedure takes about 30 to 45 minutes. Full athletic activity is allowed in one month.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Rapid Recovery After Breast Augmentation Surgery


You should be able to have a rapid recovery after breast augmentation surgery.  Ask your plastic surgeon about the experience that his/her patients have and ask around. I know exactly what my patients go through because I ask them to report  on their experience anonymously every quarter for quality control.  My patients have a very rapid recovery and return to work in 1-4 days typically with many patients never taking any pain medication and most reporting that it is more uncomfortable than it is painful.

Not every patient is the same and I still have a rare patient that reports that it takes 7 days before they start feeling better.

The procedure should only last 30-45 minutes in the operating room and you should be able to return home that same day.

Richard H. Fryer, MD
Salt Lake City Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 100 reviews

Breast Augmentation


Breast augmentation is by far the most common procedure performed at my practice. On average the procedure takes about an hour and a half. Things like the type if implant used (saline v. silicone) and where the incision will be (under the muscle, above the muscle, through the belly button, through the underarm) affect the time minimally. When it comes to recovery, all women are different. People have different pain thresholds and heeling times. I know women who have a breast augmentation on Friday and go back to work on Monday. There are also women who need a little more time and that is completely normal. There are some limits when it comes to pain medication like driving, so be mindful of your post surgical commitments if you plan to remain prescription narcotics. You will meet with you surgeon several times over the first 6 months after your surgery. Give your body time to heal and your implants to settle before making any judgments about their appearance. It will take about 6 months to 1 year for this to take place.

Joseph G. Bauer, MD
Alpharetta Plastic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Breast Augmentation Duration


The surgical time is generally 1 1/2 to 2 hours depending on the placement of implants.

The duration of the implants varies considerably as each patient is different depending on their lifestyle and activity level. The breast implants tend to last 10 -15 years with gel implants lasting longer than saline. We have patients who are happy 20 years after surgery. Leakage may occcur with saline implants in 3 - 6 years after surgery.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

What can I expect & how long will it last with breast augmentation


Women choose to have breast augmentation for  a number of reasons, but the most common reasons are for increased volume (size) and a better overall shape. You can expect to increase your beast size with breast augmentation, and often times even out uneven sized and shaped breasts. But most women will "augment" or increase the size of the breasts and maintain the shape that they already have. 

You ask "how long will it last?" Many women have breast augmentation surgery that can last for 20 or more years, however may women will have issues that need revision surgery after only a few years, so there is no set amount of time.  It will also depend on whether you have children and breast feed after having the surgery, and how your own body ages, as well as how much your weight fluctuates.  I would recommend scheduling a consult with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon to be evaluated and to go over your options.  Good Luck!

Amy T. Bandy, DO, FACS
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 90 reviews

Longevity of breast implants depends upon the patient and implant


Longevity with saline implants is less than ten years since the saline filled implants have a tendency to leak after 3 - 6 years.  The implant companies suggest that you replace them at 10 years. 

Silicone implants should be replaced at 22 years since the body begins to form calcification in the surrounding scar tissue.  No harm to this but the breast can become a little firmer when this happens.

Gary H. Manchester, MD (retired)
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.