What can be used to help soothe swollen and bruised breasts after breast augmentation? (Photo)

When I was breastfeeding, I suffered engorgement and the midwife recommended green cabbage leaves chilled in the fridge and then placed on the breasts. That was a godsend! Could this work to aid with post surgery discomfort?

Doctor Answers 7

Pain control after breast augmentation. Here's how!

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Precise surgical technique, delicate tissue handling, avoidance of rib injury, meticulous hemostasis (control of bleeding capillaries), and basically, careful surgery all contribute to the least post-op discomfort possible. And although individual patient pain thresholds cause fairly wide variations in perceived discomfort, sloppy surgery or blunt dissection will always yield more pain than the same patient's response to skilled surgery.

Which is why choice of surgeon is MUCH more important than choosing "overnight recovery," "flash recovery," or "24 hour breast augmentation" marketers! 

But there are other things that can be done (including chilled cabbage leaves, but more about that later). These include pre-operative anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant medications (continued post-op, but better started pre-op), better anesthesia (TIVA instead of inhalation anesthesia, since the latter causes more nausea, vomiting, and resultant swelling, bruising, and pain), and intra-operative use of Exparel (3-day extended release local anesthetic), in addition to pain medications if needed. Narcotics can cause nausea and vomiting (see above comment re anesthesia), not to mention slowing the gut and causing constipation, straining, and higher risk of elevated blood pressure-induced bruising, bleeding, or even re-operation. 

So pain control reduces post-operative complications (like capsular contracture) as well!

So how about chilled cabbage leaves?

Sure, cold can reduce both swelling and discomfort, but ice bags (or blue ice freezer paks) CAN actually cause frostbite and blisters (I have had this happen to one of my patients whose well-meaning husband put frozen blue ice paks next to her breast skin--held by her elastic bandeau--overnight; took months to heal) so protect the skin with a dry cloth when using ice or freezer paks! Chilled cabbage leaves are organic, and should not touch any open incision, but otherwise are harmless (and I don't suppose the cool lasts very long). So if they seem helpful (and assuming your incisions are covered), go for it and feel better soon. Best wishes! Dr. Tholen

What can be used to soothe swollen breasts.

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First of all thank you for the question.  I recommend my patients use ice packs to help with swelling and bruising.  Not to be applied by the incision.  I would suggest following your plastic surgeons after care advise.  Best of Luck.

Post Op Relief

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Many surgeons will allow cold compresses, though you will need to be sure your incisions are protected and clean. I recommend that you ask your Plastic Surgeon what to expect and what you can do for relief of swelling and pain post op.

All the best

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What to do to lessen swelling after a BAM

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HI giddygilly,

  I would recommend that you keep your arms elevated when you can, ice your breasts and wear a good supportive bra. The bra should not , however, be too tight or you could increase your swelling. Be sure not to engage in vigorous athletic activity and do not lift anything 15 lbs. or more for 5-6 weeks.

Hopefully, this will help a bit.


Dr. Christine Rodgers

Breast post-op treatment

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Cool compresses or ice packs guarded by a moist towel can help with initial swelling and bruising.  Best of luck.

Breast cooling

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Thanks for your question. Cooling breasts after surgery can certainly help with the discomfort and also reduce too much swelling. However I would not suggest cabbage leaves, or any other foods, to be placed so close to the surgical scars. Cleanable/wipeable cooler packs would be better.

What can be used to help smooth swollen and bruised breasts after BA?

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Thank you for sharing your question and photographs.  Though always best to ask your surgeon on their recommendations I would advocate for use of a comfortable, supportive bra, sleeping with your chest elevated, using arnica and bromelain supplementation, and cold compresses over your garment.  Because you will have fresh incisions after surgery I would not advocate for placement of cabbage leaves over them.  Hope this helps.

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.