Post-op Breast Augmentation Pain - What is It Like?

I would like to know what is the pain comparable too in a moderate to severe case? I am considering a breast augmentation but hesitate because of the unknown pain post op. I've gotten mixed reviews of pain after surgery, some compare to gorged breast, after child delivery, some say excruciating pain. What is to be expected after a breast augmentation?

Doctor Answers 7

Post Op Pain 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.
Every patient is unique and tolerates pain differently. I suggest consulting with a board-certified plastic surgeon who has experience with breast procedures to see if you are a candidate for breast augmentation and to discuss post operative pain control.

Pain after Breast Augmentation

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Pain is always experienced differently by different individuals. Pain after breast augmentation is mostly caused by stretching of the pectoral muscle. This will be affected by the tightness of your muscle, the way it joins the rib cage, and the size of your implants. Bigger implants obviously cause more stretch. Most pain occurs in the first few days, and then settles to feeling like engorgement with nursing or before one's period.

Your pain can be reduced by selecting and implant size that is appropriate for your body frame, having your surgeon inject Marcaine around the breast prior to incision, using a pain pump, adding muscle relaxers to your post-op pain med, avoiding a tight garment, keeping your activity level gentle, and gentle early massage.

Managing discomfort after breast augmentation

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Thank you for your question. Discomfort is normal after a breast augmentation.  I have had patient take minimal amount of medication post-op and others that require a multi-pronged approach. There are many things that can make your post-operative pain tolerable:
1) Injectable numbing done at the time of surgery (some can last for several days)
2) Muscle relaxants so your muscle is not as tense
3) Narcotics to help address pain. Usually more effective if you stay ahead of it
4) Non-narcotic medications (e.g. anti-inflammatories such as Advil)
You often find that discomfort does correlate with size of the implant and the degree of stretching of the soft tissue of the breast.
I would also revisit with your plastic surgeon if you are experiencing discomfort despite their post-operative measures.

Breast Augmentation Pain

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Everyone has a different level of pain tolerance but most patients will be back to work in a few days if they have a desk job. So the pain usually isn't too severe.

Is augmentation pain like a work-out, a punch or a truck?

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I have heard all three.  Some people barely slow down.  I have to argue with them to keep them out of the gym.  Others (with more pain) are easily convinced to take it easy.  This is the majority.  They say they feel as if they have been punched in the chest, twice.  Lastly, some suffer quite a bit, especially if gastrointestinal problems don't let them use the pain medication enough.

Ritu Chopra, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Pain after Breast Augmentation

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Pain after Breast augmentation is normal and is handled with prescribed narcotics and/or valium. Pain is very variable from patient to patient but I recommend taking at least one week off of work. Pain  also varies with the size , placement of the implant, and skin quality. Someone with very little and tight skin will have more pain with a 500 cc implant than someone with loose skin. Breast implants placed in the submuscular pocket are a little more painful than breast implants placed in the subglandular pocket. Breast implants placed through a transaxillary incision are in general a little more painful than implants placed through an inframammary incison or periareolar incision.

In summary , the pain is not too bad and is controlled with narcotics for up to a week.

Leo Lapuerta MD

Triple Board Recertified Plastic Surgeon

Post-Op Pain

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Post-operative pain varies from patient to patient. I find that my patients experience 1-2 days of pressure and soreness. The soreness being comparable to muscle soreness after a high intensity workout and the pressure feeling like a 10lb weight is sitting on your chest. It is tolerable pain and can be managed through prescribed pain medication which you will receive.

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.