What is "Rapid Recovery" Breast Augmentation Surgery? Is It Just a Gimmick?

I read about it on a breast implant forum but it sounds too good to be true. Is it just a gimmick? If not, what are the pros and cons?

Doctor Answers 28

Rapid Recovery Breast Augmentation- Gimmick or Reality?

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Understandably, many surgeons are reluctant to admit that quick recovery or rapid recovery is possible. While the name is developed for effective marketing  (there has to be a way to present this breakthrough technique and philosophy to the public effectively, right?),  the procedure and its merits are REAL and have been shown in peer-reviewed scientific literature published as early as 2002 by Dr. John Tebbetts.  I stand by it, regardless of criticisms for the name, flash recovery breast augmentation (TM) which sounds "flashy". 

I absolutely disagree with marketing for just for marketing's sake but when a procedure or philosophy is this important to bring to the public, it is important to distinguish it from the breast augmentation techniques which require drains, compression wraps and longer recovery periods.  This whole thing came about for one reason, to  improve patient experience for what should be a simple, elective cosmetic surgery. Everything we do as surgeons always has room for improvement. Just as we use implants that are completely different from ones used decades ago, so should the surgical techniques be today.  The goals of this technique is not to be quick in the operating room but to rather perform as bloodless a dissection as possible with the theory being that less bleeding equals less pain and also may reduce capsular contracture risk (hard breasts from internal scar tissue that is excessive and thick). 

While the surgical time can be less than 30 minutes, that is NOT the MAIN  GOAL. I am not racing , but rather not wasting time trying to control bleeding  or holding pressure on the breast because a vein popped, or being imprecise with the pocket dissection. There is no blind dissection and everything is seen clearly by the surgeon. The surgeon sees everything and performs a precise, quick dissection without blunt instruments that rip and shred like the surgeon's finger. 

I have many many patients who have undergone this type of breast augmentation and would be happy to talk with prospective patients or skeptics.  It is important to realize also, that not everyone is an ideal candidate. Patients with tuberous or constricted breasts, significant asymmetry, or who need a lift are not candidates.  Also, patients that want to be unrealistically large are also not candidates.

Please visit the links below for more information.  Good luck in your search. While some surgeons may call this procedure something else, there are some across the country that do strive to make the patient experience better with recovery and placing appropriate sized implants.  The importance is not if it is called flash, rapid, or quick recovery but that the surgeon can deliver the results.  I took a slight risk in performing this during a live studio audience taping on television but I am that confident in its merits and in the technique. It worked out as planned and as what is the typical case.  The camera does not lie. She had surgery in the morning and was shown just hours after wards. She did not take any strong narcotic pills and I do not prescribe that for a standard breast augmentation. There was also no numbing medicine placed in the breast pocket!

Hope this was helpful and always remember to choose a plastic surgeon that is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 105 reviews

What is "rapid recovery" breast augmentation surgery? Is it just a gimmick?

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Thank you for your question! The "rapid recovery" breast augmentation is a newer philosophy with many surgeons to expedite activity and expedite recovery following the breast augmentation procedure.  In my practice, utilizing the fast track technique after breast augmentations, women are readily able and doing most things virtually immediately after this procedure. It is the similar techniques as described and is really gaining popularity. She is even recommended to go out for dinner that evening. Pain is minimal and you will likely be on a scheduled antiinflammatory regimen/pain control along with early exercises/range of motion techniques immediately.  However, follow your surgeon's instructions for postoperative care and restrictions, but it is common for most women to resume many of the preoperative activities and duties within a week. I typically restrict heavy lifting and vigorous exercise for approximately 4-6 weeks Swelling and settling of the implant typically occurs over a 6-12 week period along with placement in a compression-type bra for the same time period, while your incisions commonly resolve to its final appearance in up to a year. Hope that this helps! Best wishes for a great result!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Rapid Recovery Breast Augmentation

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Regarding :  "What is "Rapid Recovery" Breast Augmentation Surgery? Is It Just a Gimmick?
I read about it on a breast implant forum but it sounds too good to be true. Is it just a gimmick? If not, what are the pros and cons

The term Rapid Recovery Breast Augmentation was originally coined by Dr. John Tebbetts of Dallas who I know and who I greatly admire. John is extremely liked or disliked by many Plastic surgeons because of his honesty, brashness and his way of repeatedly challenging generations of Plastic surgeons to "do better". Dr. Tebbets has shown in several live surgery demonstrations that creating the breast implant pocket by sharp cautery dissection (not by blunt finger or instrument tearing of a pocket), by carefully preventing and stopping all bleeding and avoiding contact with the rib cartilage combined with placement of reasonable implants chosen to fit the patients breast WITHOUT will result in a VERY short recovery allowing women to return to their normal activities rapidly.

The problem is that many surgeons advertising rapid recovery Breast Augmentation are NOT following Dr. Tebbetts' principles are substituting rapid surgery (involving trauma to the breast and chest wall) for the sound principles required to achieve a quick recovery. So, you are correct is wondering if this is hype. You need to interview several surgeons and see just how they approach the process before you entrust them with your body.

Dr. Peter Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Rapid Recovery Breast Augmentation

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I started using the Rapid Recovery Program 3 years ago.  Since then I have nothing but very happy patients.  Why does it work?  It's simple, early motion leads to less stiffness, swelling and pain.

During the surgery cautery is used to make sure there won't be any bleeding after the augmentation.  Then through the use of exercises, that put the pectoralis muscles on passive stretch, and ibuprofen, a powerful anti-inflammatory, patients are able to return to their normal routine in just 2-3 days.  I've even had patients run 5 miles two days after surgery.

The old school post operative course of no movement for 6 weeks is no longer appropriate in today's breast augmentation surgery.  Rapid Recovery works and you'll be happy you did it.

Rapid recovery

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From experience there are no cons of Rapid recovery, only pros. I am a firm believer in this method and have used it for many years following. Patients recover quicker, have less pain and require fewer narcotics. I believe the early stretching exercises in the recovery room and first few days post op decrease spasm of the chest wall muscles thus reducing pain. Although not everyone does as well some patients are out for dinner the next nigh. I had one patient attend the INDY 500 the day after her surgery.

Richard Linderman, MD
Indianapolis Plastic Surgeon

Rapid recovery breast augmentation

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The overall goal of Rapid Recovery is to minimize the trauma of surgery and the use of strong pain medications and medical devices (like drainage tubes or pain pumps). These allow you to  get on with your life faster. You should also follow your surgeon's post-operative healing regimen. While the term "Rapid Recovery" is just marketing language, the actual techniques applied are have been proven to shorten the recovery and downtime associated with breast augmentation.

The truth about 'rapid recovery' breast augmentation

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The concept of a 'rapid recovery' after breast augmentation was presented by Dr. Tebbets, a gifted plastic surgeon, however also a gifted showman. The idea is that with a very careful creation of the pocket and placement of the breast implants patients could go about their business normally the day or two after breast augmentation, and even go out dancing. Well, some can though others cannot. Breast augmentation in a pocket under the muscle requires separation and stretch of the lower attachments of the chest muscle which is a muscle pull and tear. No matter who you are, or how carefully done rest and healing is required. Some patients do have a quicker recovery, and a few a slower one. Its a law of averages. Gentle and careful surgery is just sound practice and common sense, as is rest and recovery after any surgery.  Breast augmentation is a real operation with predictable and wonderful results, and a reasonable recovery for the majority of patients. A rapid recovery is possible if you choose your surgeon wisely, and a promise of a rapid recovery  for everyone is too good to be true.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Rapid recovery breast augmentation

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Many surgeons are promoting 'rapid recovery' breast augmentation, which is something I have always attempted to provide to patients.  Over the years I have incorporated surgical techniques and instrumentation that are extremely helpful in this regard, the ultimate goal being that of creating the least possible tissue trauma that is necessary to get the implants into an aesthetically ideal position.  We also incorporate the use of anti-inflammatory medication and early motion of the arm and shoulder to get patients back to their routine activities of daily living as quickly as possible.  Most patients have little to no pain the night of surgery, and a bit more soreness the next day - but they can still lift and carry normal-size & -weight objects, brush their teeth, brush their hair, etc.  We give patients a prescription for a narcotic pain medication 'just in case' but most never take any of it.  So most of our breast augmentation patients do truly have a '24-hour' recovery, although there is inevitably some soreness for several days.  Exercise is limited to walking only for two weeks and then patients can gradually resume their usual fitness routine over the next 4-6 weeks.

Some claim that there is no need for postoperative 'pain pumps' - the layman's term for the local anesthetic infusion devices that can be placed during surgery and deliver local anesthetic into the implant pockets for 2-3 days.  I still use them, as they add no cost for the patient (we cover the cost) and add no significant risk of complications, and because there are some patients that - no matter what you do to prevent it - will have some significant pain postop without the local anesthetic infusion.  We take the tiny catheters out usually on postop day 2, and because of this device we have many patients who describe having an essentially pain-free breast augmentation experience.  You can't absolutely guarantee that outcome, but we certainly try to provide it for every patient.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 123 reviews

Rapid Recovery Breast Augmentation

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Hi there-

While I do agree that skilled and knowledgeable plastic surgeons familiar with the principles stressed by Dr. John Tebbetts are able to have their patients achieve comfort much faster than those who do not follow the basic principles of gentle surgical technique, I would be a bit wary of someone who feels they need to use this as a means of attracting patients....

If the surgeon was simply answering a question about their technique- great, these principles are sound. But if they were ADVERTISING that they are somehow a better surgeon for you because they use these principles, I might not be as enthusiastic.

There is so much behavior of a marginally ethical nature going on in the interest of attracting more patients, that it must be quite difficult for the average patient to separate the truth from the hype... Realizing there is so much hyperbole is a good start...

There are many, many characteristics that go into being a good surgeon- someone you would send your mother to. Putting your patients safety, comfort, and happiness above all other concerns is important. As are a sound education, years of ACGME accredited training in the discipline in which you practice, Board Certification in the specialty in which you practice, and a solid experience doing the procedures you offer people.

But it is also extremely important (although more difficult to measure or identify after a brief encounter- making sites like this more valuable) to have a surgeon with integrity.

Any surgical procedure is a series of decisions (sometimes small, sometimes big)... 

I worry that if a doctor has demonstrated their willingness to compromise their basic integrity by advertising in a disingenuous manner (giving cute names to operations all of us do in order to make you think they have captured magic in a bottle, or showing photos of patients not treated in their practice), that they would also be willing to compromise that integrity somehow in during the course of your surgery or postoperative care...

And if this occurs, your outcome, and possibly your safety, will be at risk.

The best surgeons earn their reputations over time- not by advertising cutely named procedures.

Rapid recovery breast augmentation

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Thank you for your question.  Recovery after breast augmentation is limited by the body's ability to heal.  As such, recovery can only be so "rapid", and what is being sold is most likely a bit of a gimmick.  That said, recovery time can indeed be minimized.  An experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon who uses meticulous operative technique, and who liberally uses long-acting local anesthetic (such as Exparel) in the OR, will give you a nearly painless post-op experience.  Most of my breast augmentation patients take very few (if any) narcotic pain pills, return to gentle work in a few days after surgery, and can ease back into the gym at around 2 weeks.  Unlimited activity is allowed at 6 weeks.

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.