Is Significant Breast Pain After Augmentation & Mastopexy Standard?

My wife is 8 days postop and is experiencing significant left breast pain. Pain comes and goes and is described as stabbing burning sensation. Drugs and muscle relaxers don't really help. The left breast has not dropped as much as the right and she's concerned that this extreme pain (8 out of 10 scale) won't dissipate. Surgeon says that it's a rare, but normal experience that the pain will go away over time that it's relative to a stretched nerve from the under muscle implant. What's your input? What will help expedite resolution?

Doctor Answers 11

Rare, but not unheard of.

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What your wife is experiencing at 8 days after surgery is rare, but not unheard of. Indeed it does sound like nerve pain from a nerve being stretched. In general, if we encounter a nerve that must be either cut or pushed on, it is better to not cut it. That means that the implant may be pushing directly on it and it may cause additional nerve pain until swelling comes down, which may be another couple of weeks.

There are not many measures that will improve nerve pain other than time. There is some mild evidence that vitamin B6 may help so Vitamin B complex may be of use. Some patients find Ibuprofen/Motrin as well as ice to be helpful. The Ibuprofen is an antiinflammatory. Check with your doctor to make sure there is no further risk of bleeding as anti-inflammatories may increase bleeding.

As far as the dropping, I would not be too worried at 8 days. Implant swelling goes down differentially and implants sometimes appear higher because that muscle is more contracted or in more spasm.

So wait for all the inflammation and swelling to resolve and I think your wife's pain should gradually improve and the implant should return to where it was placed at the time of surgery. Best of luck.

Sounds normal

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It sounds like your wife is still healing from her procedure, and it is not uncommon for one side to feel different or take longer to settle down than the other side. I would recommend patience, but it may certainly help to touch base with her surgeon, have him take a look at her, and make sure nothing else is going on.

Pain after breast augmentation and mastopexy

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Your wife is still within the acute post op period, and a spectrum of discomfort is to be expected. Assuming she has been seen by her surgeon post op and he/she is not concerned with her progress, then it should fade soon.

All of my patients are put on a short course of Celebrex and are usually quite comfortable.

Barry H. Dolich, MD (Retired)
Bronx Plastic Surgeon

Pain after Breast Lift with Implants

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I am sorry to hear of your wife's pain.

The stabbing, burning pain you describe is typical of a stretch or pinch of a sensory nerve. This can occur as a normal part of this surgery.

The good news is that it is temporary.

It is important to have this evaluated by your surgeon to be sure there is not a treatable cause or to evaluate that this is not a sign of a treatable complication.

There are medications that can be helpful to alleviate the pain until the nerve recovers.

Gentle massage to the area can be helpful.

I hope it does recover quickly.

Sounds a little severe

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Pain after sub-muscular augmentation is very common. After the first couple of days it is usually an ache with an occasional, transient shooting or stabbing pain. This severe 8 out of 10 pain that you describe after a week is unusual. I would try anti-inflammatory medication and gentle massage. If it is unrelenting then I would recommend an MRI. All the best.

I agree!!!

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I agree with your surgeon 100%!

The type of pain you are describing is nerve pain and is due either to trauma from the procedure, the implant stretching, or muscle spasm pulling on a nerve. This is a difficult thing to go through but additional muscle relaxants may help.

Under the muscle is one of the most painful operations I do. They start to drop usually between the 3rd and 4th week after surgery. Still, pain starts to ease at about the 7 day mark.


Recovery Following Augmentation & Mastopexy

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         Breast lift and augmentation are often accompanied by pain, swelling and hypersensitivity. These are essentially normal findings which usually resolve on their own. The burning, stabbing sensation that you describe is known as a dysesthesia. It’s very similar to what happens when your leg falls asleep. The phenomena occurs when the nerves are compressed or stretched.


         During and after breast augmentation surgery, this is exactly what happens to the nerves that supply the breasts. The breast implant underneath the nipple compresses and stretches the soft tissue and nerves that supply the nipple and areola. In many cases, this process is made worse by swelling.


         Patients typically describe a painful, tingling, burning sensation that can be very uncomfortable. In many cases, clothing rubbing against the area can elicit a pins and needles sensation.


         These symptoms usually resolve in six to eight weeks without intervention. In some cases, aggressive massage can desensitize the area and minimize the pain and discomfort associated with this condition.

Significant asymmetry of pain after a breast lift and augmentation is a sign of trouble.

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This problem should be immediately reported to your surgeon.  It might be nothing but there is the definite possibility of a hematoma that should be dealth with relatively quickly. 

Pain after breast augmentation and mastopexy

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Pain during the recovery period after breast augmentation and mastopexy varies with each patient, and may be quite different on one side or the other. It is important to rule out an acute problem, such as hematoma or infection, but it is possibly due to dissection around the pectoral muscle to allow implant placement. Other than pain medications and muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory medications, gentle massage and warm compresses may all provide some relief, but make sure to discuss any treatments with your plastic surgeon.

Olivia Hutchinson, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon

Pain after a breast lift with implants

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It is common for a patient to have some level of discomfort after a breast lift with implants. The pain does not come so much from the breast lift but from elevating the muscle off the chest and placing the implants underneath. The amount of pain that you will experience is also determined by the techniques your surgeon uses. In our practice, we avoid touching the sensitive portions of your chest such as your ribs and the tissue surrounding the ribs. We also provide meticulous control bleeding as we do not want extra blood to collect or to irritate the surrounding tissue. After the surgery, we recommend that patients place ice onto their breasts as this will help alleviate some of the swelling. If you prevent swelling you can greatly diminish the resulting pain.

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.