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Breast Augmentation: Recovery Timeline


Breast augmentation surgery was the most popular plastic surgery procedure that women chose to undergo in 2013. This probably comes as no surprise. It has been a top procedure with women for years with the reasons for such popularity being quite obvious (more so in some than others!). In fact, around 95% of women who have had a breast enlargement would make the same decision again, which is a remarkable high satisfaction rate. You likely know quite a lot about the results that can be obtained from a breast augmentation, but how about the recovery from the surgery itself?

What can you expect during the first few weeks after surgery regarding discomfort?

How about activities?

Returning to work or school?

Let’s look at a general timeline for recovering from your breast augmentation:

Immediately Following Your Surgery

You will have a snug but soft dressing over your breasts for two to three days. This is to remain on and not to be manipulated with. And, there is NO PEEKING! Ice or cool packs are NOT to be used at all.

Pain medication and a muscle relaxant are to be taken as directed to help minimize any discomfort, which is generally in the mild to moderate range. You are to take your antibiotics until they are gone.

You are encouraged to get up and walk around and can engage in gentle activities. There is no driving the day of surgery, and you should not do so while still taking your pain medication. Sleeping should be on your back – not on your side or chest.

Initial Follow-up Appointment

You will be seen back in the office in two to three days at which point your dressing will be removed, and you will be placed in a sports type bra. This bra should then be worn 24 hours a day for at least one week.

At this time, many women have substantially reduced discomfort or tightness and, therefore, are taking much less pain medication or only occasionally. Some are taking none at all except for possibly Tylenol. Expect your breasts to be moderately swollen.

If you are off the pain medication and feel comfortable, then driving can be considered.

Subsequent Office Visit

This visit usually occurs at around five to seven days after your surgery. By this time, a high percentage of women are only taking pain medication intermittently with many not taking any at all.

The swelling of your breasts may be noted to be decreasing with less tightness being experienced. It is at this time that you will be explicitly instructed on doing compression exercises for your implants – where you will move them gently a few times a day.

Returning to Work or School

Most women can return either to school or a non-physically demanding job by five to seven days after surgery. What would be right for you will be discussed with you during your office visits. A very physically demanding job will require more time off from work or, at least, a temporary job modification.

Week 3

At three weeks after your surgery, you can engage in almost all activities on an unlimited and as tolerated basis. You need to avoid doing chest muscle exercises for a total of eight weeks. If you have any questions about specific ones, ASK.

You will also be started on a scar cream to help your incision to heal as inconspicuously as possible. The area should also be protected with sunscreen for around nine months if you are out in the sun wearing a bikini top or similar attire.

Longer Term

Usually by one month your breasts will be notably softer and with more definition. It may take four to six months for virtually all the swelling to disappear and your skin and muscles to “soften” to their more long term state. By one year, you can expect the true “final” result.

At our Scottsdale practice, Dr. Steven Turkeltaub has helped countless women improve the appearance of their breasts through breast augmentation, and he looks forward to meeting you soon. To schedule a consultation with our board-certified plastic surgeon, feel free to call (480) 451-3000 or fill out our online contact form to get started today.