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 (15)

About three weeks

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Generally, I advise patients that they can start doing more intense physical activity at 3 weeks, and upper body strength exercises at 6 weeks after surgery. If you don't lift heavy things in your job or things like that, then you can probably return to work in three weeks  if your recovery is going well since you say your job is pretty busy. However, you should ask your surgeon as they may have different guidelines.  


Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 74 reviews

Time off Work for Nurse

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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 18 reviews

Augmentation Recovery Period

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Dear Megan,
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. Done well, breast augmentation can have a very long lasting beautiful result. The following is an outline of what to expect after augmentation based on some of these variables. In general, treat 'dual plane' augmentation as very similiar to 'sub-muscular' in the recovery process.

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 29 reviews

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BBA

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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

Recovery after Breast Augmentation

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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 42 reviews

Recovery Time After Breast Augmentation

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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 20 reviews

Recovery Time After Breast Augmentation? #breastaugmentation

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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 21 reviews

Time needed for breast augmentation recovery

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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 10 reviews

Breast augmentation recovery

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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 28 reviews

Recovery After Breast Augmentation

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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 128 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.