Breast Implant Recovery

I was wondering how many days I would need to be out of work after getting breast implants done. Does it matter on how the doctor inserts the implant? My doctor mentioned going through my arm pit or under my breast. What should I expect? Thanks!

Doctor Answers (10)

Breast Augmentation Recovery

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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


Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Breast implant recovery?

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Thank you for your question! This answer will vary amongst each surgeon, and it is wisest to discuss this with your plastic surgeon. In my practice, utilizing the fast track technique after breast augmentations, women are readily able and doing most things virtually immediately after this procedure. She is even recommended to go out for dinner that evening. However, follow your surgeon's instructions for postoperative care and restrictions, but it is common for most women to resume many of the preoperative activities and duties within a week. I typically restrict heavy lifting and vigorous exercise for approximately 4-6 weeks Swelling and settling of the implant typically occurs over a 6-12 week period, while your incisions commonly resolve to its final appearance in up to a year. Hope that this helps! Best wishes for a great result!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Returning to work after breast augmentation

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The incision choice is usually not the issue – it’s more about your level of activity at work.  Depending on your job description, I usually advise my patients that they may return to work after one week for light administrative duties and four weeks for strenuous physical labor.  

George John Alexander, MD, FACS
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

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Returning to work after Breast Augmentation Surgery

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Average recovery time for breast augmentation surgery patients is 1 week - but it may be more depending on what kind of work you do.  I don't think the incision make a difference but it does make a difference with the amount of discomfort when the implant is placed sub-muscularly (under the muscle) vs. Sub-glandularly (over the muscle).  I normally recommend sub-muscular placement for most natural, longer lasting results.  I prefer the incision at the areola to try to get the best placement of the implant on the chest wall for the patient.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 710 reviews

Recovering from breast augmentation......

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We generally recommend that you take a week off work and avoid strenuous physical activity for three weeks. You will also be under restrictions for lifting objects. 

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Recovery after breast augmentation

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Recovery time is most affected by where the breast implant is placed. If the implant is placed under the pectoralis muscle, the additional dissection and release of pectoralis muscle fibers typically leads to more post-operative pain than an implant placed subglandular. A subglandular implant is placed under the breast gland, but above the pectoralis muscle. Typically, patients are able to return to a desk job within one week either way.

Good Luck

Richard Ellenbogen, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Recovery from breast augmentation

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Recovery from breast augmentation is not an all or none phenomenon.  That is, it is a progressive process over a period of time.  The main determining element is where the implant is: above or below the muscle.  Even though the recovery is worse under the muscle the ultimate result is better.  Recovery  for work is dependent  on the exact kind of work.  Many patients go back to work after a week.

All the best,

Talmage J. Raine MD FACS

Talmage J. Raine, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Recovery after Breast Implants

+1

The amount of time you will need off after breast augmentation surgery will depend on a few factors:

1. the type of work you do

2. The implant position (above or below the pectoralis muscle).

3. Your pain tolerance

4. Your surgeon's recommendations

However, as a general rule, if you do desk job type of work, then a week off should be adequate.  If your implants are under the muscle, then you will be more sore than if they are above the muscle.  

I think that it is important that you ask your PS how many days you should wait before returning to work. 

Laurence Weider, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

Recovery time after breast implants

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Time off work after breast implants varies depending on the patient. Most patients will return to an office type job in no more than one week, some will need as little as four days. If the job is more physical and requires heavier lifting, that time will be longer. In general all activities, even weight lifting, can be resumed by three weeks. Implants placed under the muscle generally need a bit more recovery time than those placed over the muscle

David A. Bottger, MD
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Breast implant recovery

+1

Usually breast augmentation is a bit uncomfortable especially when the implant is placed under the muscle and the muscle is divided. I tell patients that they can probably go back to desk type work within a week, but should avoid exertional activities for several weeks.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

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.