Aside from the procedure itself, one of the biggest factors in the results of breast augmentation surgery is whether patients take care of themselves during the healing process. Knowing what to do - or not to do - in the various stages of recovery is an important step toward achieving the best results possible and avoiding health complications. For our patients in the Decatur area, we offer the following timeline for recovery, and tips for making the most of your breast augmentation.
Immediately following the procedure, patients often experience fatigue and soreness. Rest is advised for 24 to 48 hours after surgery, limiting movement to occasional walks around the house. With limited activity and pain medication, patients should be able to resume light tasks and even return to most jobs within a few days.
Within the first week of recovery, side effects of surgery will be most noticeable. Common effects include:
- Swelling: The area around the incisions and breasts will swell for up to three weeks on average. Although swelling should gradually reside after the first week, it may take a month or longer for breasts to settle into their desired size and shape.
- Bruising: Although rarer and less visible than swelling, it is still common for patients to have some bruising along the area of surgery. This can be expected to disappear within one or two weeks.
- Pain: Some level of discomfort should be expected, depending on the size of the implant, its location, and the nature of the surgery. Larger implants and those positioned under the muscle tend to have increased discomfort. Pain medication, either prescription or over-the-counter, should be used until soreness resolves - usually within two weeks.
The Following Months
The majority of side effects should be gone by the first month, allowing patients to return to nearly all daily activities without issue. However, due to the stretching of skin and the nerves within it, patients may experience temporary sensitivity or numbness around the nipple. Heightened sensitivity should diminish within a month or two, while it may take up to a year for damaged (numb) muscles to fully repair. Consult your doctor if this pain dramatically increases at any point, as it may be indicative of infection.
Even if you feel perfectly well after a few weeks, take care to not overexert your body prematurely. Most forms of exercise and strenuous activities are usually acceptable after four to six weeks, assuming your doctor has given you permission to do so. After eight weeks, most patients can resume unrestricted upper-body exercise.
Tips for Recovery
With the right decisions and expectations, you can minimize harm while maximizing your eventual results. Take the following suggestions into consideration during healing:
- Wear a surgical compression bra: A compression garment is necessary during recovery for most forms of plastic surgery. A surgical bra will prevent infection and health complications, while promoting circulation and overall healing. Ask your doctor about the wealth of benefits a compression garment will bring after surgery, and how long you can be expected to wear one.
- Prevent infection: You can avoid infection by keeping your incisions clean, wearing your bandages and surgical bra for the instructed length of time, and taking any prescribed antibiotic medication. If you notice any signs of infection, such as a fever or increasingly worse swelling/redness, contact your doctor.
- Be patient: Your results will not begin to meet your expectations until swelling has considerably gone down and implants settle into the breasts. For many patients, this does not occur until a month after surgery, and may take as long as six months for breasts to properly reflect their new shape. This may seem like a while, but remember that your breasts will continue to improve over this time, and the ensuing years of satisfaction will far outlast these few months.
Learn More about Breast Augmentation
Whether you are only considering breast augmentation or have recently undergone a procedure, we look forward to helping you throughout the process. Contact our office to meet with Dr. Baker via consultation or to ask about any of our numerous plastic surgery options.