How Painful Can Breast Lift with Implant Be?

I'm 37 years old. After having baby, I have ended up with loss of volume and loose skin on my breast and flat look. I'm disappointed with my looks and am considering Breast Implant with Breast Lift.

Thought of pain and complication scares me to hell. How painful can the procedure be? The look of ugly scars and capsular contracture and other complications makes me uncomfortable.

Please help me in deciding and let me know if there is a way or procedure with less pain or quick recovery for Breast Augmentation. How is pain or discomfort minimized to little or no pain at all by painkillers? Thanks.

Doctor Answers 17

Minimizing Pain After Breast Augmentation and Breast Lift

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Generally speaking, operations that involve the muscles, bones or joints tend to be more painful operations that involve only the soft tissues. The soft tissues are usually not involved with necessary movement and are not weight bearing. A breast lift traditionally does not involve bones, joints or muscles and thus tends to be relatively well tolerated. This is especially true if a good support bra is worn to prevent movement of the breasts after surgery.

A breast lift and a breast augmentation are really two different operations and have different levels of pain associated with them. Of the two procedures a breast lift is often the less painful especially when the breast augmentation is done by placing the implants under the chest wall muscle (pectoralis major). Nevertheless, it is sometimes better to place the implants underneath the muscle in order to achieve the best cosmetic result.

The best way to minimize pain and discomfort after either a breast augmentation and/or breast lift is to follow your surgeon’s advice. He or she has a lot of experience in managing postoperative pain. Take pain medications as needed and do not wait too long to take the medication. Sometimes instead of taking two pills every four hours better relief can be achieved by taking one pill every two hours. Support the breasts with an appropriate bra to minimize movement (often a good sports bra will suffice). And use ice packs as much as possible during at least the first four days. Ice packs will minimize swelling and this in turn will make it more comfortable. If the implants are placed underneath the muscle, discuss with your surgeon the option of taking a muscle relaxing medication. This can decrease muscle spasm that can occur during the first week from the muscle being stretched over the implant.

Finally realize that the pain is temporary – usually only a few days. These operations are in general much less painful than most surgeries. I’ve performed this procedure thousands of times and no woman has ever had intolerable pain and no one has ever regretted the procedure because of the recovery. It is a short-term recovery for a lifelong improvement in appearance.

Nashville Plastic Surgeon

Post-augmentation pain

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Pain is variable. In general, pain maximizes by 24-48 hours. By four days, it should be quite manageable. Almost all of our patients can do exercises to minimize capsular contracture by the fourth post-op day. Pain pumps and infusion of local anesthesia into the pocket is available as well to alleviate the initial few days of pain. I always tell my patient they will have pain even if they don't since preparing for it and expecting it is better than not. They are generally more happy when the pain is less than expected than if they had more than expected.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Scared to have breast augmentation

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The post-operative discomfort can be effectively managed and is a short term issue. The more significant aspect of your question is your concern about the possible complications. While complications rates are low, the possibilty exists. Before undertaking any surgery, you must understand the possible risks and accept them. As an informed patient, you will seek a board certified plastic surgeon. Your board certified plastic surgeon will take steps to insure you do not have a complication. However, we cannot eliminate the possibility altogether. If you are "scared to hell" and my patient, I would not perform the surgery. You must feel very positive about your decision.

Tracy Pfeifer, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

A breast lift with augmentation is great and not very painful at all

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If your breast are deflated and your nipple areolar complex has moved down below your inframamary crease, then a breast lift and a breast augmentation is the procedure for you. Originally I would put the implant under the muscle but over the past 8-10 years I have been putting a textured silicone gel implant under the breast at the same time as I do the breast lift. This has given my patients wonderful and long lasting results that are superior to previous approaches.

Depending on how far down your nipple areolar complex is you could have a periareolar lift or a lolly pop mastopexy which places an incision around the nipple areolar complex and down the front of the breast or if needed a anchor mastopexy which in addition requires an incision under the breast. The decision on which depends on how much drooping you have. I have found that the results are best in my hands if the implant is placed under the breast. In addition this results in a much less painful operation.

At the time of surgery I fill the breast pocket with long lasting local anesthetic, start the patient on non-steroidal anti-inflamatory medicines and give them narcotics as needed. Most patients don't need the narcotics because the pain is really minimal.I would recommend that you discuss all this with your plastic surgeon. Also I would encourage you to ask to see before and after pictures. Make sure you surgeon has done this procedure frequently with good results.

Carl W. "Rick" Lentz III, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Pain after breast augmentation with lift

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I place a large amount of long acting, local anesthetic in the wound after virtually all of my operations and thus 95% of my patients never take pain medicine. Instead, we recommend Valium, with or without Tylenol.

While you will be sore for 1 to 2 days, it's tolerable and most patients return to an office job in 3 to 5 days.

Darrick E. Antell, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Breast Lift with Implants pain

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All the previous expert posters have tried to address the issues of pain degrees and possible complications in quite good detail. My feeling is the Internet is NOT the forum to try and convince you that there are no risk, no pain, no complications in having ANY cosmetic surgery, especially breast implants + lifting. You NEED to see in person at least 3 board certified plastic surgeons so you can get a three dimensional experience of a real hands on evaluation and develope a relationship with these surgeons. Over the Internet, this one dimensional experience, does you an injustice and also us, the expert posters. Regards.

Amount of Pain with a Breast Augmentation or Lift

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The overwhelming majority of women undergoing Breast Augmentation / Lift feel the pain was well controlled with pain pills. Many actually are surprised by how little pain they are having.

The amount of pain depends on multiple factors; Surgeon dependent and Patient dependent. Surgeons who prevent contact with the ribs, who take their time and cut and do not bluntly rip ("blunt dissection") tissues and who control and stop all bleeding have a lot less pain after wards than surgeons that do not. Further pain decrease to near elimination is brought about by using pain pumps or placing local anesthetic in the breast pocket. As regards he patient, women who had babies experience a lot LESS pain than those who did not. Women who are educated as to what to expect also do a lot better and are often surprised by how much less pain they have.

Do not panic. Pick the right Plastic surgeon and you'll do great.

Dr. P. Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Pain of breast augmentation

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About 80% of my patients say that the pain of a breast augmentation was much less than they had anticipated. The surgeon needs to be very meticulous about the procedure as this minimizes swelling. The patient neds to be a positive thinker and not an anxious person for the fastest recovery. Negative, nervous patients take 3-4 weeks for the pain to completely minimize while the calm ones often just take Tylenol and look fine in 3-4 days. Pain pills and muscle relaxants are very helpful.

Patients rate breast lift with implants worth it

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Any decision for surgery is a serious matter, and your concerns are certainly valid. However, patients almost universally say that it was worth the post-op discomfort. There are options for managing the pain after surgery, including things such as the On-Q pump which blocks most of it with numbing medication infused directly into the surgical site. In any case, it usually resolves in a matter of days. A good surgeon will go over risks of complications with you in detail so that you can make an informed decision.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Pain Most Severe-- First 24-48 Hours. Pain Tolerance Varies...

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It’s not unusual for patients to experience pain following combination breast augmentation/breast lift surgery. This pain is usually related to elevation of the muscles during sub-muscular breast pocket formation. In addition, spasm of these muscles can contribute to postoperative discomfort, as well.
The pain associated with this combination procedure is severe in the first 24 hours following surgery, but rapidly diminishes with time. We typically use a synthetic Codeine derivative called Hydrocodone, which has a decreased incidence of nausea compared to Codeine.We replace narcotic pain relievers with Tylenol as soon as possible following surgery, to avoid the potential for drug problems.We also use muscle relaxants in the immediate postoperative period.
Pain tolerance varies from patient to patient following surgery.If you’re considering this procedure, it’s important to discuss pain management with your surgeon prior to surgery.

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.