Surgical Planning to Control Pain After Breast Augmentation

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One of the most common concerns of women seeking breast augmentation surgery is the amount of postop pain. But it is difficult, if not impossible, to predict the level of discomfort since each individual has a different level of pain threshold, and several factors also come into play.

Surgical planning plays an important role in the reduction of postop pain. A good rule of thumb is to control bleeding and to avoid unnecessary trauma to the tissue, which is done through meticulous pocket dissection. For this reason, implants on the smaller side—or at least not larger than 400 cubic centimeters—tend to result in less postop discomfort.

Larger implants, meanwhile, cause more discomfort and pain due to more stretching and displacement of the tissue. In addition, they increase long-term risks such as sagging or bottoming out, accelerated aging of the breast, and skin thinning.

In general, pain after breast augmentation surgery is well tolerated. Nevertheless, it remains important to plan ahead the use of pain control medications to enjoy a more pleasant and possibly shorter recovery; this is particularly important for patients who have very a busy schedule.

Most patients are able to return work a week or two after breast augmentation, although this is only true for individuals with light task or desk job work. If yours is physically demanding—i.e., requiring heavy lifting, raising arms, or any activity that can raise your heart rate and blood pressure—the best course of action is to take at least three weeks off.

Take note that stress can also increase your heart rate and blood pressure, which could aggravate not just the pain but also lead to longer recovery. Simply put, you should never rush your recovery.

While rigorous activities and heavy lifting could aggravate pain and affect healing, light exercise such as walking is important because it has been found to accelerate recovery and minimize risk of persistent swelling and deep vein thrombosis, a complication that could happen with prolonged bed rest or immobility.

Oftentimes, postop pain is at its peak in the first three days. However, there are many options to choose from to control the discomfort during this most crucial time—e.g., pain pumps that directly deliver local anesthesia into the surgical site, muscle relaxants such as Valium, narcotic pain meds, nerve blocks, and anti-inflammatory agents.

The use of narcotic pain drugs is arguably the standard pain control treatment, which is often taken with a stool softener to counteract its side effect—i.e., constipation or hardened feces.
Article by
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon