How Long After Breast Augmentation Can I Go Back to Work?

I am a waitress so I am constantly walking & moving around. I work at a very fast pace restaurant where we do not get many breaks...My job also requires me to lift things such as trays, tubs full of dishes, ice buckets, & also I have to mop. I'm pretty sure I can get someone to help me out when I return to work so that I won't have to do all of that since I know it will be a while before I can lift. I was thinking maybe 5 days off...Would you recommend that or should I get more time off?

Doctor Answers (18)

Returning Back To Work After Breast Augmentation


Dear Momof 2beauties, The first rule to know about returning back to work is that there are no clear rules.  Every patient heals differently and every job has it own unique requirements.  Therefore, much of what has been written so far are generalizations.  In my practice, most servers can return back to performing light duty in 5 to 7 days with delaying the heavier lifting activities until 3-4 weeks after surgery.  Some patients move a bit quicker in the process and some move a bit slower. Of course, it is best if you discuss this with your plastic surgeon and your work supervisors before your surgery to minimize any surprises.  Hope this helps and best of luck.

Saint Louis Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Breast Augmentation Recovery


I will clear my patients to start exercise as tolerated or resume heavy lifting in 3-4 weeks after their surgery *gradually*   The key word here is gradually.  This means to slowly resume your exercise routines and advance in a step by step fashion.  Please talk to your PS about his/her specific recommendations.  Best wishes.

Dr. Basu

Houston, TX

C. Bob Basu, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 117 reviews

Returning to work after breast augmentation


Many of my breast augmentation patients could return to waiting tables in 1 week if they do not have to lift much.  From the way you describe your work I would recommend at least 2 weeks.

Gary Hall,MD

Gary Hall, MD
Kansas City Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

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Recovery following breast augmentation


Recovery following breast augmentation surgery will vary from patient to patient. Pain thresholds, the pocket used and the patient's job will all influence discussions regarding return to work. I always like to be safe and cautious on behalf of my patients and therefore I always recommend a 'worse case scenario' rather than the best case scenario. Generally speaking this will range between 1-2 weeks.

Paul Banwell, MBBS, FRCS
London Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Time off Work for Waitress

Each surgeon has his or her own guidelines for recovery. Typically, patients can return to light activity after 5 to 7 days. More strenuous activity may take 3 to 6 weeks. Consult with your board certified surgeon as he or she will understand the scope of the surgery and the specifics of you.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
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Back to Work after Augmentation

Dear Momof2,
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. 

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 27 reviews

How Long After Breast Augmentation Can I Go Back to Work?


Your plastic surgeon will be your best resource when it comes to returning to your specific line of work. He/she will know how you are progressing and whether or not you have experienced any complications. Generally, most patients are able to return to the “desk job” within 5 to 7 days. More strenuous work, for example involving lifting or extensive upper body movement, will require more time off.

Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 719 reviews

When can I return to work waiting tables?


Patients who have a desk job can typically go back to work in 4-5 days with restrictions.  Waiting tables is a much more physical job and I understand your finances depend on tips, so I think taking anywhere from 5-7 days off will suffice being that you are restricted in server responsibilities with light side work.   No reaching above your shoulders for glasses, etc for about 2 weeks, no lifting of anything 15lbs or heavier for 3-4 weeks and gradually working it back in.  Listen to your body, if it still hurts, don't do it for another week.  Take more trips to bring out food, etc.  You will feel fine after a few days so you have to remind yourself that you just had surgery and don't want to cause any complications and possible revisionary surgery by going back to strenuous work too soon. ac

Angela Champion, MD
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Time Off Wirk After a Breast Augmentation


A lot depends on where the implant is placed. If it is placed under the muscle, then more time off will be required before returning to lifting heavy objects and loading your upper body. The situation you described may require up to a week off, but you may need help with anything over 10-15 pounds for another 3-4 weeks. If placed over the muscle (under the breast), the recovery may be much shorter.

Gus Galante, MD
Schererville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Time off after breast augmentation


Time off after breast augmentation varies among surgeons and even among patients within an individual surgeon's practice - this is best discussed with your surgeon of choice.

W. Tracy Hankins, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 41 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.