Should I be Moving Around Immediately After Breast Augmentation?

My doctor is saying to get up even at night every 1-2 hours for 4 days following surgery. Is this what is recommended? Also, some doctors recommend resuming normal things (light housework and exercises with your hands above your head) immediately. My doctor says not to put my hands above my head for the first week.

Why are there such conflicting instructions for the same surgery? I found the same confliction regarding icing breasts after surgery. Could I get some answers to these? Thanks.

Doctor Answers 21

Should i be moving around

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there are no set answers because medicine is a biologic science not a physical science. there are variations in everything patients, healing abilities  etc.  in a perfect world surgeons would have you do nothing after any surgery so thye healing would be better. however this can cause the blood clots we are all afraid of.  life gets in the way. most people have to go to work , raise kids etc... so we all have to compromise.  i tell people no more than 10-15 lbs of lifting for 10-days to 2 weeks .  my 2 most recent hematomas were after bowling at a week and amorous activity at 10 days.  common sense is really important!!

Newark Plastic Surgeon

Exercise after breast augmentation

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It is a good idea not to remain in bed for prolonged periods after any surgery including breast augmentation.  However, I think you may have misunderstood you doctor about getting up every 1-2 hours at night.  Movement of the leg muscles will help prevent blood clots or DVTs from forming in the legs.  Just make certain you aren't doing anything too strenuous (anything that would make your heart race or cause you to sweat) for the first tow or three weeks after the augmentaion as those types of activites can increase blood pressure and cause bruising or bleeding. 

Vincent D. Lepore, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Follow your surgeon's advice

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Every surgeon has different guidelines and advice. This is based on their expertise and the specific details of your surgery. For example, this is what I normally recommend:

For the first three days restrict your arm movements and leisurely walk around.

After three days, you can begin doing non-strenuous activities except lifting.

You can start exercising at 3 weeks but wait 6 weeks before doing upper body training and more strenuous activities.

No Universal Approach to Surgery or Post op Care

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Yes it is confusing and it is best to follow your doctor's advice as it works for her or him.   That being said, I encourage my patients to get up and out of bed.  I do not ask them to wake up every 2 hours and I think you may have misunderstood your surgeon.  You heed your rest to heal properly.   If it hurts dont do it is my approach.  I allow my patients to put their arms where ever they please.    Good Luck!  Dr Grant Stevens

Grant Stevens, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 152 reviews

Confusing postoperative requirements following a breast augmentation

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Plastic surgeons, like people in general, have their own preferences and ideas as to what works and what may be best. However, that doesn't mean that such things are always prudent, necessary or even effective. Waking up and moving around every 1 - 2 hrs after surgery is rather excessive and unnecessary in my opinion. Nevertheless, since your plastic surgeon is the one who operated on you and is responsible for your care, you need to discuss these issues with him/her.

My recommendation for my own patients is to be up and around after surgery, doing activities in moderation. Laying in bed or just being largely inactive can be detrimental for your progress and may increase your risk for the development of clots in your legs. There is no heavy lifting for at least 3 weeks. Supportive stockings can be worn for the first few days after surgery though this is not a critical point for most patients.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Augmentation ambulation post-op breast

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Ambulating or walking after surgery is benificial.  During surgery and in recovery, we place SCDs (calf massage device) on the patient to help prevent blood clots.  Patients ambulate about 30 minutes after the surgery.  We also send patients home wearing TED hose.  A breast augmentation surgery is so short at our facility (about 15 minutes), that it is highly unlikely to produce a clot.  I would think that waking every hour or so at night to ambulate would be overkill.  But, I would follow your surgeons reccomendations.  SJR

Activity after breast augmentation

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I am not sure why your doctor wants you to get up every 1-2 hours at night. Early ambulation is very important to prevent blood clots in the legs (DVT); however, it is not common to have patients awaken multiple times during the the night to prevent post op DVT. Birth control pills, smoking, and obesity increase the risk of DVT.

Most surgeons limit arm motion immediately after breast augmentation, a few allow early arm motion. The reason to limit arm motion is to prevent bleeding inside the new space that was created to hold the implant. If enough blood accumulates around the implant, a hematoma has formed. Hematomas require additional surgery to correct them. It is worth limiting arm motion to help prevent bleeding and the additional expense and time involved with draining a hematoma.

If you have a dressing with gauze and padding, the cold from the ice will not penetrate to the breast. You do not want to put ice directly on the skin of the breast. Whether you ice or not will not change the long term result of breast  augmentation.


Good luck with your surgery,

Richard L. Dolsky MD

Richard L. Dolsky, MD (retired)
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon

Activity Levels Following Breast Augmentation

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Unfortunately, not every issue in plastic surgery is clear cut. There are many gray areas and for this reason, plastic surgeons don't always share the same philosophies.

In the case of upper extremity movement, two schools of thought have developed. Some surgeons feel that early movement decreases the potential for post-operative bleeding, while others feel that early movement actually increases the potential for bleeding. Unfortunately, there aren't studies available to clarify this issue.

It's also not unusual for surgeons to recommend early ambulation to avoid the development of deep venous thrombosis in the port-operative period. These blood clots can potentially have fatal consequences. Although each surgeon's protocols may have slight differences, they all recognize the importance of early ambulation following surgery.

It's important to discuss these issues with your surgeon prior to surgery. Your surgeon has protocols in place that have worked in the context of his surgical approach to breast hypoplasia. It's not unusual for these protocols to vary from surgeon to surgeon.

Movement after breast augmentation

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Getting up in the middle of the night, while you should be sleeping, doesn’t sound logical to me. Yes, during the day you should walk around a bit to prevent blood clot formation is important but at night, you should be able to sleep through the night without waking up every couple hours. This can actually compromise your recovery because it’s while your sleeping at night when your body repairs your body most effectively.

However, your surgeon knows your situation the best so it’s probably better to listen to them. Of course you can ask questions to find out why they gave you this advice, though.

Ronald Levine, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Post Breast Augmentation Exercises

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It it normal to get up and move around immediately after any type of surgery whether it is a breast augmentation, abdominoplasty, or facelift. It is important to do that to prevent significant post-operative complications including pneumonia, deep vein thrombosis, and other major complications. However, the most important aspect is to not increase your heart rate above 100 after any type of surgery for at least 2 weeks. After breast augmentation, it is important to move your upper extremities early after surgery and you can shower usually after 24 hours. You can resume most physical activities in 2-3 weeks.

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon

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.