How is Recovery After a Breast Lift and Implants?

I'm having a lift and aug in a few days and am a hairstylist, so I want to know what to expect as far as a discomfort level and return to work. My doc told me a week and come back light, just wanna know that's long enough.

Doctor Answers 19

Breast lift and augmentation post op pain


  I think your doctor is right on course with the recommendations especially considering he knows your situation and body type.

  The breast lift causes very little pain.  Even with larger breast reduction patients do not experience much pain post op for the most part.  I have done many thousands of these so I can tell you with a good deal of certainty that the patient with a breast lift or breast reduction that has a lot of pain post op is the exception.

  Now the augmentation part of your case is different.  If your doctor is placing the implants under the muscle (my preference), then the muscle takes time to adjust to the new stretch and tries to get back to the chest wall.  This does cause post op pain that should be treated with pain meds as needed.

  Your doctor has given you good advice but of course you have to consider that pain and discomfort is variable from patient to patient.

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Listen to your surgeon

You should plan to be off work for up to 5-7 days, although this can vary from person to person. If your work is more physically demanding, you'll probably need to wait about 3 weeks and wait 6 weeks before lifting.  

Time off Work post Breast Lift and Augmentation

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
4.5 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Augmentation and Back to Work?

Dear Tory,
Thank  you for your post. Yes, in general, going back to work in 1 week is fine for a motivated individual.  Expect to be sore but can certainly be done.  When you are at work, avoid lifting anything heavy or reaching too high above your head, stretching the incisions.
Best Wishes, 
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews


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!


Asif Pirani, MD, FRCS(C)
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Activities after a breast augmentation

The only activities I would restrict a patient to after a breast augmentation would be not to lift greater than 20 pounds and avoid activities where the breasts bounce up and down for 6 weeks. Atlanta Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Z

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Recovery after a breast lift and implants

Recovery after a breast lift and implant surgery is a little more recovery than after just implant surgery.  Breast implant surgery recovery or breast enhancement surgery recovery is essentially a 24 hour recovery, back to light activity, with a shower the same day of surgery.  In my practice, no restrictive bra or dressing is necessary after a breast augmentation.  The breast lift would mean that the patient would not shower for one to two days after surgery.  There is a little more discomfort with the combination of a breast lift with implants rather than an isolated breast implant surgery.

Craig W. Colville, MD, FACS
Toledo Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Return to work after breast augmentation and lift

Unfortunately, you do not describe the type of lift you are having.  These can vary from around the nipple to a lollipop or boat anchor incisions.  Also, you do not describe whether the implants will be placed in front of or behind the muscle.  Implants behind the muscle hurt longer and stretching of the muscles can aggravate the pain.  Usually 1 one week would be enough to get you back to light duty or 4 weeks to be completely back to normal.

Best of Luck,

Gary Horndeski, M.D.

Gary M. Horndeski, MD
Texas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 147 reviews

Recovery time

With sub muscular implant placement, I recommend about one week off from light duty work. However when it comes to upper body exercise , I recommend a full 6 weeks off, to allow the muscles to settle and heal.

William Loutfy, MD
Albuquerque Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Is a week of recovery enough following breast augmentation and breast lifting to return to work as a hairstylist?

Most of my patients return to work one week following breast augmentation and breast lifting. While different factors to affect the recovery including the size of the implant, the type of lifting, tightness of the skin envelope and the patient's own discomfort threshold, a week is usually sufficient time for recovery even for returning to work as a hairstylist.

George Lefkovits, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 21 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.