How Long is Downtime for Breast Augmentation?

How long is the downtime for breast implant surgery? I have 3 children and don't have a lot of time to be in bed.

Doctor Answers 20

Downtime from Augmentation

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Dear Dixie,
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. The following is an outline based on some of these variables. Breast lift does not add significantly to recovery time. As far as the child is concerned, I would have some help in the first week or so after surgery.

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

Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Downtime after breast augmentation

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Thank you for your question.  Recovery after breast augmentation doesn't have to be difficult.  Selecting an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon, who uses proper technique, is the first step.  The surgeon's liberal use of a long-acting local anesthetic in the OR will help make the first few days after surgery relatively pain-free.  Wearing a supportive bra post-op and taking it easy on activities that involve heavy use of the arms, chest, or shoulders is also imperative.  While complete subsiding of post-op swelling and final settling of the tissues surrounding the implants can take several weeks, most of my patients are back at work within a few days after surgery.  Return to the gym for gentle cardio, in a supportive bra, is possible after around 2 weeks, and unlimited activities at 6 weeks.

Downtime for Breast Augmentation

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Breast augmentation is a major surgery, and healing and getting back to “feeling normal” does take time.  Most surgeons recommend a post-operative recovery time of 6-12 weeks, and it can take even longer for all the post-operative swelling to disappear and the implants to settle into their final position.  I would encourage you to be patient during the healing process, as difficult as that can be sometimes!

Suzanne M. Quardt, MD
Palm Springs Plastic Surgeon

Downtime for Breast Augmentation

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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
4.1 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Breast Augmentation Recovery

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Recovery from breast augmentation surgery varies from patient to patient. We generally recommend that patients take a week off from work after this procedure. Occasionally, patients return to work even sooner, especially if they have a desk job.

Patients aren't allowed to return to strenuous activities for at least four to six weeks. At that point, they're allowed to resume all of their normal activities.

Each patient is unique and should be considered individually. Since you're a mother with small children, you might require some assistance in the immediate post-operative period. When all of these factors are considered, most patients don't think the recovery was as difficult as they had anticipated.

How Long is Downtime for Breast Augmentation?

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Thank you for the question. Your plastic surgeon will always be your best resource when it comes to returning to specific occupation/activities. He/she knows exactly what was done, how you are progressing (every patient has a different experience after breast surgery), whether or not you have experienced any complications or setbacks, and exactly what type of activities you wish to return to.
On average, I ask patients to take off 5 days to 1 week after breast augmentation surgery (desk job). For some professions, I may suggest a going back to work with a lighter workload (or in your case, having someone else do the lifting etc.. that would involve the pectoralis muscle). Ideally, I ask patients not to lift anything heavy or do things ( like pulling/pushing) that contract the pectoralis musle for at least 3 weeks. Patients are able to return to running and heavier lifting 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.  I ask my patients to stay away from "pectorals major" activity such as push-ups and bench press for several months.

Ultimately, it will be important for you to “listen to your body”, apply common sense, and return to activities/exercises in a gradual fashion. Best wishes.

Downtime after breast augmentation

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Thank you for your question. You definitely want to follow your own surgeon's post-op activity instructions. This is a general guide I give to my patients as to the recovery
Week 1) Discomfort and tightness level progressively decreases with each day. Swelling decreases a great deal after one week. Most people return to work in some capacity.
Week 2) Unlikely to need any narcotic support except maybe at night. Swelling and tightness continues to improve compared to week 1
Weeks 3-6) May need tylenol or ibuprofen for intermittent discomfort. Swelling completely resolved. Tightness may continue as the implants over an additional few months into their final position.

As far as activity, here is a safe guide:
1) No heavy lifting or strenuous activity for 6 weeks (a gallon of milk as a guide).
2) Resume walking at a leisurely pace right after surgery (e.g. 2 mph)
3) At 2 weeks, you can walk 2 miles at 2mph
4) At 3 weeks, you can walk 3 miles at 3mph
5) At 4 weeks, you can walk 4 miles at 4mph
6) At 5 weeks, you can jog 5 miles at 5mph
7) At 6 weeks, you can resume all activities, but listen to your body and use discomfort or tightness as a guide so you don't over do it.

So as far as the little ones, I would recommend having help for basic needs like lifting into the car seat. You can cuddle with them while you are sitting down, but you should avoid the tendency to multitask with one child in your arms while you are busy doing other tasks.

Recovery After Breast Augmentation

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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.
Please consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon who has experience with breast procedures. They will be able to determine if you are a candidate for breast augmentation. Best of luck!

Brian Coan, MD, FACS
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 65 reviews


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Every patient heals differently so one person’s recovery is not going to be the same as another person’s.  However, the recovery for a breast augmentation can be relatively short compared to other cosmetic procedures.  In my practice it is not uncommon for a patient to have a breast augmentation on a Thursday and return to work by Monday provided their job is not physically demanding.  Most patients report soreness for the first day which decreases each day.  Some patients do not require narcotic pain medications and can use over the counter products for pain relief.  Now, there will be some physical restrictions after surgery.  I request my patient’s do not lift anything over 10 lbs for at least 3 to 4 weeks which can be difficult to do if you have younger children. Typically I recommend my breast augmentation patients plan on taking it easy for the first week after surgery.  Resting will be important to help your recovery but that doesn’t mean you will be lying in bed all day.  It will be important to listen to your body and not over exert yourself.  Your recovery will take as long as it takes and overexerting yourself could be counterproductive to the healing process.  I recommend that you continue your research on RealSelf for a board certified plastic surgeon.  Then schedule a consultation to find out if you are a good candidate for a breast augmentation.

Be well and good luck!


Recovery from Breast Augmentation

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This is a great question.  We all want a fast recovery from any operation as well as a good result with the fewest possible complications.

With the 24 hour breast augmentation protocol you should be back to doing most things at the next day or next evening.  You are not healed, but the patients who follow this protocol will be able to be out shopping the next day and back to work in 2 to 4 days unless they do a lot of heavy lifting at their job, in which case, I suggest taking a week or so off.

With 3 kids you will have to follow the protocol the next day, so you will have to have someone around to help but after that you should be able to handle things without any problem.

I hope that helps.

Brian Windle, MD
Kirkland Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 64 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.