How Long is Breast Implants Recovery Time?

I am a phys ed teacher and would like to get breast implants. I want a very natural look and do not want anyone to know. I am afraid that if I take additional vacation time either before or after winter or spring break, everyone will notice. Is it possible to be back to work after only a week of recovery?

Doctor Answers 136

Recovery after surgery

If you were my patient, given your active strenous job, I would have you wait till your summer break.  Elective surgery should minimize complications.  If you overdo it early, you may be unhappy with result.  I think one week is plenty for people who are at a desk. 

Breast Implant Recovery Time

I tell patients no heavy lifting for about 6 weeks.  The amount of pain depends on where the implant is placed above vs below the muscle.  Below tends to hurt more.  Also peoples pain thresholds are very different.  Overall patient recovery with breast augmentation is relatively quick.

Stephen M. Miller, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Breast Implants, Breast Augmentation Recovery Time

Breast augmentation recovery with return to normal activity including driving takes about four days or less for 95% of my patients and three days or less for 85%.  I recommend that patients keep their heart rate under 100 for two weeks.  This keeps their blood pressure down and lessens the chance that they could have bleeding into the pocket after surgery. This seems to work since the incidence of bleeding or hematoma has been about 1/10th of one percent in the last 23 years. Sixty-five percent of patients have no bruising at all and another thirty percent have minimal or slight bruising.

Normal activity is defined as the ability to lift normal weight objects, raise your hands above your head sufficiently to wash your hair, and to drive. If you are a physical education teacher requiring aerobic activity you could certainly return to work, but I would advise against running around so much that your heart rate exceeds the rate of 100. You could have a period of brisk walking or similar activity, but followed by a rest so you stay at or under the 100 limit. This does not mean you would have a problem if you exceeded the limit, but as an arbitrary guideline, it seems to work.  Patients with office-type jobs usually go back to work in three or four days, as soon as they feel comfortable. For example, with surgery on Friday, patients would go back to work on Monday or Tuesday. Patients who have to use their arms a lot, like restaurant servers, usually take five to eight days off, sometimes longer.

After surgery, my patients are advised to lift their arms overhead five times an hour. We start them in the recovery room. This helps hasten recovery by stretching out the pectoralis muscle. They don't wear any special bras or have drains. Specific details of recovery can be found on my website. You should consult your own plastic surgeon for specific guidelines on when to return to work and return to any specific activity.

Robert M. Lowen, MD
Mountain View Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Recovery Time

Typically my patients who have surgery on Fridays go back to work on Monday.  However, my 'typical' patients are not phys-ed teachers.  The concept of recovery depends on what you mean by recovery.  Some of it depends on the type of procedure you have as well.  In over 4000 surgeries I have operated on many fitness models, personal trainers, and body builders.  In these patients the pectoralis muscle is typically very developed and the choices are either to place a small implant under the muscle, or to place a larger implant over the muscle.  An under muscle implant will have a longer recovery and will require a bit more muscle 'rest' which may be hard given your profession.  In my experience, stretching and overuse of the muscle after only 3-4 days does increase swelling...but likely does not affect the long term result.  If your plan is a small under muscle implant, you should still be back to work in 2-3 days- but I would tell you to restrict chest exercise or overhead stretching for at least 7-10 days.  With an over the muscle implant you'll have an easier recovery although there are other issues with over muscle implants.  If you can submit a photo or send one directly to me, then I can give you some more specific information as it pertains to your particular case.  Good Luck!  Scott Newman, MD FACS

Scott E. Newman, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Breast Implant Recovery

The recovery from subpectoral breast augmentation used to be a rather unpleasant experience, but it no longer has to be. A space for the implant must be developed behind the pectoralis major, and a portion of the muscle's inferior origin must be released. Surgery on a muscle in most cases produces significant postoperative pain, and that is certainly true for breast augmentation. However, by using a local anesthetic infusion device (the On-Q 'Pain Buster') for the first two to three days after surgery, the pain associated with this procedure can be reduced quite dramatically.
While breast augmentation patients in this practice receive a prescription for a mild narcotic pain medication for use after surgery (just in case), most of them never take it. Most patients report little to no pain in the evening following surgery, and perhaps some mild discomfort on Postop day one and two. Patients can resume all normal, non-strenuous activities of daily living immediately after surgery, and can begin pec major range of motion exercises on the evening of their procedure.
Patients are seen in the office the day after surgery, and again on Friday for removal of the Go-Pump catheters (which is painless). Working patients usually return to work the Monday following the surgery; stay-at-home moms may need some help with toddlers for the first two to three days after surgery. Exercise is limited to walking only for the first two weeks; in weeks three and four some light exercise is permissible. Patients can gradually increase their exercise/workout level in the second month (weeks five through eight), however it is a full eight weeks before patients are allowed to return to activities that require forceful, repetitive, sustained pec major contraction - such as pushups and heavy weight lifting. It is important to ensure that the breasts are well supported in snug fitting sports bra (or two) when returning to impact exercise such as running or aerobics.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

Augmentation Recovery

I inform my patients that most women will need at least 2 weeks from any strenuous activity. At 2 weeks they may begin light exercise and build their way back to normal exercise over the next 2 weeks. Most women with non-physical jobs can return to work after 3-5 days. They may be stiff/sore but most can perform their duties. In your case, if you can return to work without having to demonstrate or participate in the physical activity, then you could return sooner and not raise suspicion.

Douglas L. Gervais, MD
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 137 reviews

Women often worry (unnecessarily) that everyone will notice after they have breast implants.

It seems students notice a lot about their teachers.  I have women in male-dominated professions who worry that the results of breast implants will be obvious and everyone will notice.  Usually this is not the case.  Women are often wearing padded bras before they have surgery.  One week off work is almost always sufficient for non-physical jobs.  Of course this applies to breast cup sizes up to about a C/D, which you probably don't want to exceed anyway as a phys. ed. teacher. I have attached a link in case you wish to read more.  It will take about a month before you can

Eric Swanson, MD
Kansas City Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 43 reviews


In my experience, most patients are able to return to work within a week’s time.  In fact in my practice it is not uncommon for a patient to have surgery on a Thursday and return to non strenuous work on Monday.  However, there are physical restrictions for a few weeks after surgery.  I request my patients avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting until at least three weeks out or more depending on the patient’s recovery.  Being a physical education teacher taking it easy for a few weeks may not be optimal but if arrangements could be made to limit the physical demands of your job, returning to work with limitations after one week would be possible.  I recommend you continue to research on RealSelf for board certified plastic surgeons.  Then schedule a consultation for a thorough exam to confirm that you are a good candidate for breast augmentation.

Be well and good luck!


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.