Recovery Time After Breast Augmentation?

I work as a RN on a pretty busy floor. Wondering how much time I will need to take off from work for a breast augmentation. I'm pretty sure with the research I have done that I will be going under the muscle. Also not trying to get too large of an implant. Just want to be able to fit into clothes better more then anything. The recovery time is a huge part of my decision to do this. I can't afford a 6 week leave from work.

Doctor Answers (12)



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!


Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Recovery after Breast Augmentation


Recovery from a breast augmentation is very patient and procedure specific, but we typically find patients are off of pain medication and able to return to work after a long weekend.
We usually allow return to basic activities and desk type work after 3-5 days.   We do restrict activities that involve contraction of the pectoralis muscles or any underwater activities for 4 to 6 weeks.
Factors that I find influence recovery is the ratio of the implant size to existing breast tissue.    Typically a patient will recover quicker if they place a small implant and have a fair amount of existing breast tissue, compared to someone placing a larger implant with little to no existing breast tissue.
I would recommend consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon to perform a physical exam and review your medical history, and surgical goals, such that they can offer you a realistic recovery plan.
I wish you a safe recovery and great result.

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Recovery Time After Breast Augmentation


It usually takes 2 weeks to recover. One can resume most activities in 3 weeks and in 4 weeks for heavy lifting.

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

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Recovery Time After Breast Augmentation? #breastaugmentation


We all vary with our rules but there are a few that I feel are pretty hard nosed. I do not allow patients to do any heavy lifting more than 10-15 pounds for 6 weeks. There are several reasons why this is important. There is an inherent risk of bleeding after creating the pocket for the first few weeks and too much vigorous work can lead to a hematoma. Incisions will not have their strength back until the classic 6 week mark and you do not want to risk an open incision with an implant beneath. I allow moderate cardiac activity after a month as long as there is no bouncing activity of the breasts. If you do not lift heavy at work then you can be back within several days. Realize every patient has a different pain threshold and some take longer than a few days to bounce back.

Richard J. Brown, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Time needed for breast augmentation recovery


Recovery time following a submuscular breast augmentation is variable for all patients.  In general expect to need to take pain medication night and day for the first 2 - 3 days then night only for another 2 - 3 days.  You will need to avoid activities that make the breast bounce up and down for the first 6 weeks, this includes high impact aerobics and jogging.  Lifting is variable and depends upon your comfort level.  I have many patients who are nurses and they can reasonable expect to get back to work within a week but may not be moving full speed.  If you duties require heavy lifting then, of course, you will need more time off.  

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Breast augmentation recovery


I typically tell my patients to avoid lifting more than 10 lbs for at least 4 weeks, but driving is ok after a week. If you can return to nursing and not have to physically lift patients for that length of time you should be okay. You need to find out from the plastic surgeon who will be performing the surgery what he/she recommends.

Michele A. Shermak, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Recovery After Breast Augmentation


Most of my patients are comfortable to drive and return to a desk job type activity in a few days after breast augmentation.  However, I generally recommend no heavy lifting or strenuous activity (lifting above 15-20 lbs, working out, etc) for 3-4 weeks after augmentation.  As a busy RN, you are likely involved with moving patients and heavy lifting.  So I would recommend you take off 3-4 weeks if possible.  I would clear you to resume activity as tolerated gradually at week 4.  Hope this helps.

Dr. Basu

Houston, TX

C. Bob Basu, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 113 reviews

Recovery after Breast Augmentation



For patients who have a sub-muscular medium sized implant I usually tell them to get the surgery at the end of the week (Thursday or Friday) and then take that weekend and the next week off. That will give you 9-10 days.You should be able to return to work with just ibuprofen for the pain. You might want to go on a shift where there is not a lot of heavy lifting for several weeks, but otherwise you should be ok. I hope this helps.


Daniel A. Medalie, MD

Daniel A. Medalie, MD
Cleveland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Recovery time after augmentation


It depends on how you define recovery.  Pain free and not aware you even had an operation?  probably 6 weeks. Functional and able to do an office job?  within 7 days.  I think if you don't have to do heavy lifting at work you will be able to be back relatively soon.  Most nurses I know, though, have pretty strict physical requirements that must be signed off on by their surgeon before returning to work.

David A. Lickstein, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Recovery Time after Breast Augmentation?

Thank you for the question.
 If you are able to avoid heavy lifting you should be able to return to work within 7 days.  Otherwise you may have to wait 4 to 6 weeks. As you know, recovery time after any type of operation will vary from one patient to another. Your plastic surgeon will be able to guide you more specifically depending on how you do postoperatively.   Generally speaking, I do have to remind my RN  patients to be good patients and follow instructions…
 Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 680 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.