What is Expected After Breast Augmentation?

What helps to reduce pain and swelling and complications? Do many patients complain of severe pain? Do I have obvious scars? Thank you for your time and advices.

Doctor Answers 16

Breast augmentation expectations

On average most of my patients require 2 to 4  days of rest and use of pain medications/muscle relaxants. Most patients are able to return to work (desk job)  at one week. I asked my patients  to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activity for 4 to 6 weeks.

Regardless of the patient or surgeon the scar will always be visible (some more than others). My favorite incision site is  below  the areolas  followed by the breast  fold areas.

In regards to your question regarding avoidance of complications I would suggest that surgeon selection should be of primary concern. Make sure you're working with a well trained/experienced  board-certified plastic surgeon and communicate your goals clearly.

It is important to communicate your size goals with your surgeon.  In my practice, the use of photographs of “goal” pictures (and breasts that are too big or too small) is very helpful. I have found that the use of words such as “natural” or “C cup” means different things to different people and therefore prove unhelpful.
Also, as you know, cup size varies depending on who makes the bra; therefore, discussing desired cup  size may also be inaccurate.
I use  intraoperative sizers and place the patient in the upright position to evaluate breast size. The patient's goal pictures are hanging on the wall, and allow for direct comparison.
I have found that this system is very helpful in improving the chances of achieving the patient's goals as consistently as possible.
I hope this helps.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,499 reviews

Breast Augmentation Usual Recovery Process

You have asked very important questions. First of all, make sure you thoroughly research your surgeon and ask him/her a lot of questions during your consultation. He should at the least be board certified and have performed a lot of breast augmentations. Having said that........there is a technique out there that gets most patients back to their daily life and work and routine in about 24 hours post augmentation! While many Plastic Surgeons are even sceptic, it is worth it for your to at least look into it. I have attached a link to a video that explains it.  By limiting bleeding and blunt trauma to making the pocket under the muscle, you get less pain signals and therefore a quicker recovery. Some have called this Flash, Rapid, or Quick Recovery Augmentation.  I prefere the term Flash Recovery Breast Augmentation (R).  In addition, this procedure requires that your breast tissue dimensions are closely followed and that you and your surgeon do NOT select an implant volume that is excessive.  As far as scarring, depends on your skin type and where you prefer to have it. Scarring is almost never an issue and if scarring is not optimal, many things can be done about it. 

Ashkan Ghavami, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 105 reviews

How will I feel after breast augmentation?

Recovery from any surgery varies significantly from patient to patient.  I try to ask my patients how they have responded to previous surgical procedures or illness.  I believe that previous experiences provide good information about the future.  I am sure that you have seen some people who are very sensitive to pain and discomfort, while others just seem to keep going-- no matter what.  Try to honestly assess what kind of person you are.

Most patients will have moderate pain for at least a few days.  It is unusual for a breast augmentation patient to need more than one prescription (30 tablets) of narcotic pain medication.  Most women return to work in 5-7 days, although I have seen several return within 1-3 days.  Some, of course, take up to 2-3 weeks, but this is unusual.  

Early complications after breast augmentation are, fortunately, rare.  I would recommend that you limit your exercise activity for at least 2 weeks, although gentle walking is encouraged in the early post-operative course.  Be sure to follow your surgeon's advice and communicate with him/her if you have any concerns or questions.  Scarring is highly variable depending on skin type, genetics, and scar location.  Surgical technique is rarely the source of poor scar formation.  I generally recommend scar massage starting a few weeks after surgery.

Eric T. Emerson, MD, FACS
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Expectations Post Breast Augmentation

I would say that generally most patients that have breast augmentation surgery have a fairly quick recovery.  It is not uncommon for patients to return to work in less than a week.  Most patients are not ready, however, to go back to strenuous activity at this time, return to the gym, return to heavy lifting or pushing prior to at least 4-6 weeks.  But, returning to light activities such as going back to work where you are either at a computer or working under conditions that do not require a whole lot of physical exertion, then it is feasible to return after only one week of recovery time. 

Paul Fortes, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Recovery After Breast Augmentation

Thank you for your question. I have included some typical expectations of breast surgery recovery and signs to watch for following breast augmentation:

  • Stiffness, swelling and bruising in the chest region: These are normal experiences as the skin, muscles and tissue heal. Pain medication and muscle relaxants will help you cope with any discomfort. Consistent sharp pain should be reported to your board-certified surgeon.
  • Hypersensitivity of nipples or lack of sensitivity: This is normal and will gradually resolve over time.
  • A mild to severe itchy feeling of the breasts is possible as healing progresses. An antihistamine like Benadryl can help to alleviate severe, constant itchiness. If the skin becomes red and hot to the touch, contact your board-certified surgeon immediately.
  • Asymmetry, the breasts look different, or heal differently: Breasts may look or feel quite different from one another in the days following surgery. This is normal. No two breasts in nature or following surgery are perfectly symmetrical.
  • Discuss returning to work with your board-certified surgeon, in our office it is typically 3-5 days post-surgery but you may not overexert yourself or do any heavy lifting.
  • You may resume exercise and your normal routine at six weeks unless your surgeon advises otherwise.
I suggest consulting with a board-certified plastic surgeon to see if you are a candidate for breast augmenation. Best of luck.

Brian Coan, MD, FACS
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Recovery after Breast Augmentation

The recovery process is very different from patient to patient.  Typically you will find that the pain is moderate and will feel like a sore muscle as well as some tightness.  Depending on where the incision point is the scars should be small and less than 1 inch.  I usually recommend about a week off of work with no exercising or lifting over 10 pounds for 1 month. 

Robert N. Young, MD, FACS
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 70 reviews

Breast Augmentation Recovery

The best way to reduce pain, swelling or complications after breast augmentation is to choose a highly qualified surgeon and follow his/her advice about what you should or shouldn't do after surgery.  The pain and discomfort varies from patient to patient but in general most of the pain will be gone in 2-3 days.  I encourage my patients to be up and about doing normal activities on the day of surgery while still getting plenty of rest.  Most patients go back to work within one week.  I don't allow any strenuous exercising (running, lifting weights, etc.) for 6 weeks.

The scars usually heal very nicely and become less noticeable over time.  Good luck!

Jeff T. Healy, MD
Honolulu Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 106 reviews

Breast Augmentation Recovery

Hello and thank you for the question ~

Recovery from breast augmentation will vary from person to person, but in general, it is a very well tolerated procedure, requiring orally prescribed pain medication for a few days at max.  Severe pain is a rare finding following breast augmentation and may indicate an underlying process which requires evaluation by the surgeon.

Swelling will be most pronounced in the first 2 weeks, with a majority of the swelling having subsided by the 6 week mark.  Icing the breast may be helpful in the first 24 to 36 hours following the surgery. The breasts will continue to settle and improve in shape up until the 1 year mark.  

Breast augmentation scars are generally very acceptable. In our hands, the best scar lines are found with peri-areolar approaches, although the other commonly used approaches also produce excellent results.

Best of luck ~

Glenn Vallecillos, M.D., F.A.C.S. 


Glenn Vallecillos, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Maximizing your breast augmentation result

The best advice is to seek out an experienced surgeon who can show you many pictures of before and afters that are similar to your situation.  The operation is not without risks but should take an hour, more or less , and a smooth recovery.  Some surgeons prefer ice packs.  I do not.  I prefer a small incision ( 2 to 3 inches) under  the breast with two layers of internal suture closure.  There are no external sutures, just glue and tape.  We feel massage is important to maintain softness and a natural look.

All the best,

Talmage J. Raine MD FACS

Talmage J. Raine, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Pain and swelling after breast augmentation

The most important factor responsible for pain after augmentations is the position of the implant - over the muscle results in mild to moderate discomfort for a couple of days, under the muscle results in more pain secondary to muscle spasm for two to three days. The larger the implant, the greater the pain after surgery.  Early mobilization usually decreases the duration of swelling and pain after surgery.   The good news is that after three to four days, most patients are comfortable but still have some tightness. Your Plastic Surgeon will review his/her experience.  Good luck!

Joseph N. Togba, MD
Oakland Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 17 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.