Recovery Time After Breast Augmentation?

I work as a RN on a pretty busy floor. Wondering how much time I will need to take off from work for a breast augmentation. I'm pretty sure with the research I have done that I will be going under the muscle. Also not trying to get too large of an implant. Just want to be able to fit into clothes better more then anything. The recovery time is a huge part of my decision to do this. I can't afford a 6 week leave from work.

Doctor Answers 19

Recovery Time After Breast Augmentation? #breastaugmentation

We all vary with our rules but there are a few that I feel are pretty hard nosed. I do not allow patients to do any heavy lifting more than 10-15 pounds for 6 weeks. There are several reasons why this is important. There is an inherent risk of bleeding after creating the pocket for the first few weeks and too much vigorous work can lead to a hematoma. Incisions will not have their strength back until the classic 6 week mark and you do not want to risk an open incision with an implant beneath. I allow moderate cardiac activity after a month as long as there is no bouncing activity of the breasts. If you do not lift heavy at work then you can be back within several days. Realize every patient has a different pain threshold and some take longer than a few days to bounce back.

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Breast Augmentation Recovery

I would say that generally most patients that have breast augmentation surgery have a fairly quick recovery.  It is not uncommon for patients to return to work in less than a week.  Most patients are not ready, however, to go back to strenuous activity at this time, return to the gym, return to heavy lifting or pushing prior to at least 4-6 weeks.  But, returning to light activities such as going back to work where you are either at a computer or working under conditions that do not require a whole lot of physical exertion, then it is feasible to return after only one week of recovery time. 

Paul Fortes, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Breast Augmentation Recovery

This is a great question since many women want to know the same thing about breast augmentation recovery.  If you have a conventional post operative protocol it will likely be a week or two before you can return to work.  However, with a 24 hour rapid recovery breast augmentation, you should be able to return to work in just 3 to 4 days.  I have had a hairdresser who went back to wrok the next day and a couple of nurses who we did on Thursday and were back to work on Monday.  The 24 hour protocol allows you to get back to everything as soon as you feel you are ready and this is almost always in about 48 hours no matter if your implants are placed above or below the muscle.  With this breast augmentation recovery protocol there are no drains and no narcotics. In addition, if you have Sientra gummy bear implants placed you will not have any special bras, binders or massage.

I have added a video of what this recovery entails along with a website reference.

I hope that helps.

Best regards.

Brian Windle, MD
Kirkland Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Recovery Time After Breast Augmentation?

Each patient responds differently to pain and surgery.

Be ready to experience some pain, tightness and swelling during the first few days of recovery. This is common response for this procedure, so you should be pain-controlled and rest for at least 4 days.

Generally after any breast procedure with implant I recommend from 1 upto 2 weeks off work depending on the work done and type of patients' business. But recovery may be slower, especially when it is sub-muscular placement.
You should avoid lifting significant weight or manual work, ( you'll need somebody to care after your children, that need lifting), moving too fast and doing good work for 3 weeks while your wounds are healing.

Please always take in mind that each patient responds differently to pain and surgery. I tried to describe the usual or common response for Breast Augmentation procedure.

And I hope this helps

Ercan Karacaoglu, MD
Turkey Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Recovery time after breast augmentation?

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 26 reviews

About three weeks

Generally, I advise patients that they can start doing more intense physical activity at 3 weeks, and upper body strength exercises at 6 weeks after surgery. If you don't lift heavy things in your job or things like that, then you can probably return to work in three weeks  if your recovery is going well since you say your job is pretty busy. However, you should ask your surgeon as they may have different guidelines.  

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 176 reviews

Time off Work for Nurse

Each surgeon has his or her own guidelines for recovery. Typically, patients can return to light activity after 5 to 7 days. More strenuous activity may take 3 to 6 weeks. Consult with your board certified surgeon as he or she will understand the scope of the surgery and the specifics of you.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Augmentation Recovery Period

Dear Megan,
Thank you for your post. There are a lot of variables to account for after breast augmentation and what to expect in the recovery process. Done well, breast augmentation can have a very long lasting beautiful result. The following is an outline of what to expect after augmentation based on some of these variables. In general, treat 'dual plane' augmentation as very similiar to 'sub-muscular' in the recovery process.

1. Pain: In general, breast augmentation is tolerated very well. When the implant is placed sub-facial or sub-glandular, i.e. above the muscle, there is very little pain post-operative. The muscle is left in place and in general, when I perform this technique, women have surgery on Friday, and are back to work (as long as they are not lifting heavy objects) on Monday. When the implant is placed sub-muscular, then there more pain and soreness as the muscle has been elevated which is similiar to having a pulled or torn muscle. This creates more swelling and takes longer to heal. In these case, most women take at least a week off of work.

2. Swelling and Size: It is very common to be about a size bigger right after surgery than what your final result will be. Swelling starts to occur right after surgery and tends to peak in the first week. After about a month you will have lost most of the swelling, but still not completely at baseline. After about another 3 months or so, you will have lost 99% of your swelling, but still have a pretty good idea of your final size at 1 month. I wouldn't spend a lot of money on bras until 3 months though, as they might not fit perfectly after all the swelling goes away. Also, the more activity you have, the longer the swelling stays, the more that needs to be done as far as lift etc. with surgery, the longer your swelling stays. As stated above, going below the muscle tends to produce more swelling and lasts for longer.

3. Scars: The natural healing process undergoes multiple phases, but in general, the first phase is the inflamatory phase were any scar will be firmer and may turn red or darker initially. This tends to last for 3 months. After this phase is the resolution phase where the scar inflammation goes away and all scars will be at their baseline at 1 year. The scars are mostly at their baseline at 6 months. The scars should be minimal if placed well, and sutured properly. I also like to protect the scars from stretching or widening in the first few months with surgical skin tape. The incision will be weak at first and susceptible to stretch or widening.

4. Massage: Your doctor may recommend early or late massage, depending on what is trying to be accomplished. In general, early massage is to manipulate a high implant or stretch a constricted area, such as in tubular breast syndrome, and late massage is to help fight capsular contraction. Search 'Breast Massage' to find my recommendations on this.

5. Exercise: In general, I ask my patients to keep away from aerobic activities in the first 2 weeks following surgery. Increased activity can increase swelling and hyper-swelling can cause stretch marks. Following this, 'non-bouncing' aerobic activity is fine, such as speed walking or cycling, but would like to keep the implants from moving too much until the capsule that forms around the implant has a chance to heal and become stronger. At 6 weeks, I clear any type of activity.

6. Infection: Infection after augmentation is very rare. Most surgeon give post-operative antibiotics to help protect you from infection.

7. Hematoma/Seroma: These are also very rare after augmentation. If the pocket for the implant that is made during surgery is a hand in glove fit, then there is very little room for any fluid to collect. It is important that the surgical pocket be free of any bleeding prior to closure to keep a hematoma from happening. If a hematoma does occur, it is important to drain the hematoma to prevent capsular contraction.

8. Sleeping: I ask women to sleep on their backs with their post-operative bra on after surgery to keep the implants in their proper position until the capsule that forms around the implant has a chance to heal.

I hope this has answered most of your post-operative questions.

Best Wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 45 reviews


It really depends on a few factors. Adequate pain control is likely the most important. Individual pain tolerance differs greatly. I find that women who have had children generally have less post-op pain, as they have a much higher pain tolerance. From a surgical point of view, there are several things the surgeon/anaesthesiologist can do to decrease your post-op pain.

I generally perform breast blocks prior to making any incisions with a mix of short- and long-acting local anaesthetics. I have found this greatly reduces post-op pain. I also encourage patients to take the prescribed pain killers regularly every 4 hours especially for the first 24-48 hours. If you don't stay on top of the pain in the immediate post-operative period, it is extremely difficult to "catch-up". Most of my patients experience very little post-op pain after breast augmentation.

Of course, the type of augmentation you have will also determine your post-operative discomfort. Larger implants, and subpectoral implant placement will also increase post-op discomfort. This doesn't mean you shouldn't get large implants, or place them under the muscle - you simply need to know what to expect. Many women also experience difficulty with sleeping in the first few weeks after augmentation due to the weight of the implants on their chest. This is more significant in back-sleepers.

To answer your question about time off work, my experience has been that there is a huge range. I have patients that go back to work the next day (against my advice), and I have had patients take as much as 2 weeks off of work. It really depends on what you do for work, and how you feel. As for taking care of your kids, if your implant is placed under the muscle, it will be a few weeks before you feel comfortable enough to pick them up.

As for scars, I tell patients it will take a year to see the absolute final result. Practically, however, by 3-6 months the scar will be very close to the final result. I suggest 3M paper taping, and have a specific scar massage protocol I use to help speed scar resolution.

I hope this helps. Good luck!


Asif Pirani, MD, FRCS(C)
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Recovery after Breast Augmentation

Recovery from a breast augmentation is very patient and procedure specific, but we typically find patients are off of pain medication and able to return to work after a long weekend.
We usually allow return to basic activities and desk type work after 3-5 days.   We do restrict activities that involve contraction of the pectoralis muscles or any underwater activities for 4 to 6 weeks.
Factors that I find influence recovery is the ratio of the implant size to existing breast tissue.    Typically a patient will recover quicker if they place a small implant and have a fair amount of existing breast tissue, compared to someone placing a larger implant with little to no existing breast tissue.
I would recommend consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon to perform a physical exam and review your medical history, and surgical goals, such that they can offer you a realistic recovery plan.
I wish you a safe recovery and great result.

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 85 reviews

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.