Difference Between 24 Hour Vs 3 Week+ Breast Augmentation Recovery?

Why is it that some doctors (and their patients!) advertise a 24 hour recovery and you hear that recovery was nearly painless, that they were raising their arms in the recovery room, showering the same day, no special bra etc. etc. And (most) other doctors say that recovery takes weeks and that you MUST NOT raise your arms for a week, no shower for 3 days, special bra for weeks on end and no strenuous exercise for 3-6 weeks afterwards?

Doctor Answers (6)

24 Hour Recovery is a myth

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It's impossible for you to undergo breast augmentation, a major surgical procedure, and fully recover within 24 hours. Your body's natural healing processes don't work that fast. If you accidentally cut your finger while cooking, does it heal by the next day? The cut may partially close over a bit but it will still be highly susceptible to opening up again, even if you put a bandage on it.

Now think about the breast augmentation procedure. The surgery involves making incisions on the body (in the armpit, belly button, breast or partially around the areola), then dissecting tissues inside the chest to make space for the implants. Regardless of how minimally traumatic the surgical techniques may be during surgery, it's still an invasive procedure that involves the administration of anaesthesia. It is far more traumatic to your body than an accidental cut on your finger, and if you don't expect to recover from that within a day, then why should you expect to recover from breast augmentation surgery in that same amount of time? You need time to heal and strengthen enough to return to the condition in which you were before surgery, and that takes far more than a day. In addition, you're unique with your own rate of recovery. No responsible surgeon can promise a 24 hour recovery after breast augmentation, or any other major surgery for that matter. Saying that you'll recover within 24 hours is a fallacy and promoting that expectation is not just dishonest, it's also dangerous. Resuming regular activities so soon dramatically increases the risk of complications (e.g. capsular contracture, shifting of the implant) and you may require a corrective subsequent surgery.

24 Hour Recovery Breast Augmentation promises patients that they'll be able to return to work and their regular daily activities in a day, but what does this mean? Does it mean that you can start dancing, swimming and working out? The answer is a resounding no. Even surgeons who actively promote 24 Hour Recovery Breast Augmentation will say that you must avoid these activities for a few weeks, until you've fully recovered from surgery. You may be able to walk, go shopping and go out for dinner (like you would be able to do anyway) but your activities must be limited. You won't be right back to normal. For this reason, 24 Hour Recovery Breast Augmentation over-promises and under-delivers.

Rather, any surgery that applies techniques to minimize recovery, such as bloodless surgery and not operating "blind", should be called "Rapid Recovery" instead. 


Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Dont Believe 24 Hour Recovery After Breast Augmentation

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Advertising 24 hour recovery after Breast Augmentation is misleading and a marketing ploy to convince people to believe Breast Augmentation is a minor procedure. Don't believe it.

Responsible plastic surgeons recommend at least a 10 day to two week recovery before engaging in physical activity after breast augmentation and longer after sub muscular breast augmentation.

Choose a plastic surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and hjas a good reputation in your community.

Brooke R. Seckel, MD, FACS
Boston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Wound Strength

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At 1 month, the wound strength after is only 15% of the original.  Excessive loading in the early post-operative period can lead to wound dehiscence, infection and complications.  Breast augmentation is particularly prone to infection and you certainly do not want your wound to separate.  I recommend no strenuous exercise and no arm raising above your head for about 1 month.  Post op patients can shower within 24 hours because the wound is sealed but does not have the mechanical strength required for stenuous exercises.

Best Wishes,

Gary Horndeski, M.D.

Gary M. Horndeski, MD
Texas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 126 reviews

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Breast augment recovery

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Some surgeons downplay postop complications, pain and healing time. Personally, I think this creates false expectations. Sure, some patients will describe recovery, especially when implants are over the muscle, as virtually pain free. And patients ask me whether I have more complications because I consent them in more detail. I think it is irresponsible to do anything else.

Robert L. Kraft, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Recovery after breast augmentation

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Different surgeons will have different recovery regimens for their patients to follow.  Ultimately, it is the results that count.  Personally, I think it is reckless to advertise a 24 hour recovery, because each patient is unique.  With that in mind, if the tissues are handled gently at surgery and the implants are not grossly oversized for the patient's body, the patient should be able to resume her normal, everyday activities within a day or so.  It is still wise to avoid heavy arm and chest muscle exertion untill the the pocket is healed.  This could take 3 or 4 weeks.

Bruce Genter, MD
Abington Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Not all surgeries are done the same way...

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There are many different ways of doing the same thing.  Just like you can take many different roads to get to the same place surgeons use different techniques to make breasts bigger.

Some surgeons use blunt dissection using tools and their fingers to manipulate and create a pocket.  Other surgeons use electrocautery (a device that cuts and coagulates tissue) to lift and manipulare muscle to create a pocket.

I believe that electrocautery dissection creates minimal tissue trauma, less bleeding, less bruising, less tearing, and a quick rapid recovery.  I get my patients moving their arms very quickly like you describe.  Many surgeons do it this way.  Other surgeons rip muscle and cauterize bleeders after they happen not preemptively.  Metal dissectors can bruise muscles, ribs, and create more trauma.  This type of surgery hurts more, I believe.

In the end, it is all about choices.  There are many different facelift techniques.  There are different liposuction techniques.  Breast augmentation can be done many different ways with very successful results.  I just don't like pain myself.....

I hope that this helps...

Evan Sorokin, MD
Cherry Hill Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 39 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.