How Long is Downtime for Breast Augmentation?

How long is the downtime for breast implant surgery? I have 3 children and don't have a lot of time to be in bed.

Doctor Answers (11)

Downtime from Augmentation

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Dear Dixie,
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. The following is an outline based on some of these variables. Breast lift does not add significantly to recovery time. As far as the child is concerned, I would have some help in the first week or so after surgery.

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 24 reviews

BBA

+1

It really depends on a few factors. Adequate pain control is likely the most important. Individual pain tolerance differs greatly. I find that women who have had children generally have less post-op pain, as they have a much higher pain tolerance. From a surgical point of view, there are several things the surgeon/anaesthesiologist can do to decrease your post-op pain.

I generally perform breast blocks prior to making any incisions with a mix of short- and long-acting local anaesthetics. I have found this greatly reduces post-op pain. I also encourage patients to take the prescribed pain killers regularly every 4 hours especially for the first 24-48 hours. If you don't stay on top of the pain in the immediate post-operative period, it is extremely difficult to "catch-up". Most of my patients experience very little post-op pain after breast augmentation.

Of course, the type of augmentation you have will also determine your post-operative discomfort. Larger implants, and subpectoral implant placement will also increase post-op discomfort. This doesn't mean you shouldn't get large implants, or place them under the muscle - you simply need to know what to expect. Many women also experience difficulty with sleeping in the first few weeks after augmentation due to the weight of the implants on their chest. This is more significant in back-sleepers.

To answer your question about time off work, my experience has been that there is a huge range. I have patients that go back to work the next day (against my advice), and I have had patients take as much as 2 weeks off of work. It really depends on what you do for work, and how you feel. As for taking care of your kids, if your implant is placed under the muscle, it will be a few weeks before you feel comfortable enough to pick them up.

As for scars, I tell patients it will take a year to see the absolute final result. Practically, however, by 3-6 months the scar will be very close to the final result. I suggest 3M paper taping, and have a specific scar massage protocol I use to help speed scar resolution.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Sincerely,

Asif Pirani, MD, FRCS(C)
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Postoperative recovery time.

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 individuals postoperative recovery time will vary. There are a number of factors including individual tolerance to pain, location of the implant whether sub muscular or sub glandular, and technique used. Most patients require approximately 7 days to be able to return to work in about 2  weeks for return to normal full activity.

Christopher Khorsandi, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

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Rapid Recovery from Breast Augmentation

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Downtime following breast augmentation is mostly dependent upon post operative pain due to muscle spasm.  Using rapid recovery techniques, which include early motion exercises, and minimal post-operative narcotics, most patients will have a quicker recovery with less downtime.  Typically, my patients shower the day following surgery and are up and about with light daily activity following surgery.  No aerobic activity for ten day and resuming full activity at three weeks.  You don't mention the ages of your children, but it would be possible to lift them a day or two following surgery.  I typically recommend that patients have another adult to help with childcare for a day or two following surgery.  After that, you should have no problem.  Good luck to you. 

Steven L. Ringler, MD, FACS
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Quick recovery breast augmentation

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We typically perform surgery in the middle of the week, and patients return to work on Monday.  We allow resumption of full activity after 2 weeks.  Our only suggestions is that after two weeks restart your exercise program slowly.  We always have to tell our runners not to do a big run on day 15, but start slowly.  

Pramit Malhotra, MD
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Downtime from breast augmentation

+1

In general, most patients take a few days to a week off from work after undergoing a breast augmentation. I allow patients to begin cardio workouts at 3-4 weeks and heavy lifitng in 6-8 weeks for most cases.

Steven Wallach, MD
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Rapid Return exercises following breast augmentation

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SEE VIDEO BELOW BY CLIKING "MORE":

Many physicians recommend immediate post operative arm exercises to have patients return as soon as possible to normal activity. These regimens tend to focus on treating the spasm of the pectoralis muscle (similar to stretching out a torn hamstring muscle).

Discuss this with your surgeon.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Light activity in a few days after breast augmentation, usually

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Hello,

You will be back to most light duty activities in a few days. You probably won't be doing much heavier activity for a month or more (if you lift weights.) The times are a bit longer with larger implants and vary a bit with technique.

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon
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Get right back on that horse

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Cowgirl,

You will be on your feet the day of surgery and back to activities of daily living in a few days. Of course, strenuous exercise will have to be curtailed for a few weeks, as well as, lifting heavy objects. If the kids need lifting up, then you will have to have someone help you for a week to ten days. Good luck!

Kenneth R. Francis, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

I recommend no heavy lifting for two weeks after breast augmentation

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I encourage my patients to be up and active immediately after breast augmentation, however I want them to avoid heavy lifting for 2-3 weeks. This is because I want the incisions through which the implants were placed to heal before upper body lifting and exercise begins.

Walking and lower body work outs can start after 4-5 days.

If your children are young and need to be lifted and carried, you should have someone help you with this for 3-4 days.

Of course you need to discuss this with the surgeon that you choose and follow his/her instructions carefully.

Brooke R. Seckel, MD, FACS
Boston Plastic Surgeon
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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.