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Breast Augmentation Recovery Timeline: What to Expect After Surgery

Breast augmentation is a surgery that helps women regain confidence and comfort in their bodies, and in their daily lives. 

Naturally, when going through this procedure, you want to get the best results. 

In this guide, I will go into depth about the breast augmentation recovery timeline. You will learn about:

  • How long recovery takes

  • What the process is like

  • What you can expect for results

  • Tips for a healthy recovery

  • What not to do after breast augmentation

  • Breast augmentation FAQ

Let's get started. 


I. How long does it take to recover from breast augmentation surgery?

The initial recovery time for breast augmentation surgery can take anywhere from 5 to 7 weeks before your body heals itself and you begin to feel normal again. A full recovery can take between 6 months and 1 year, but typically, most patients can completely get back to their normal lives in about 3 to 5 weeks.

Obviously, recovery time is different for everyone. The amount of time it takes to recover and properly heal from breast augmentation surgery is influenced by:

  • Overall health and level of fitness

  • Pain tolerance

  • Size of the implant that was used

  • Elasticity of your natural tissues

  • Additional procedures in tandem with the augmentation

  • How well you follow doctor’s orders

Depending on each of these factors, recovery time can differ. For instance, a woman who is healthier, younger, and who follows doctor’s instructions will likely recover faster than a woman who is older, less healthy, and who loosely follows doctor’s orders.


II. Recovering From Breast Augmentation: What to Expect

After your surgery is a critical time period that greatly impacts the results of your procedure. Knowing what to expect, and what to do in order to have the optimal results is essential to making sure you obtain the figure you are looking for.

The recovery process can be broken down into 4 main time periods:

  • Immediately after surgery

  • First 5-7 days

  • Next 3-5 weeks

  • Full recovery

Each of these stages requires specific care in order to get the best results, reduce pain, and ensure your satisfaction with the results of your breast augmentation. Let’s take a deeper look at the breast augmentation recovery timeline:

1. Immediately After Surgery

Breast augmentation surgery takes approximately two hours. Once you wake from the anesthesia, you will need to arrange to be driven home by a family member or friend who will keep you company.

Immediately after your surgery, it is common to feel a little drowsy from the anesthesia and to feel side effects like:

  • Tingling

  • Tightness

  • Soreness

  • Some women also report an upset stomach

As far as pain goes, many women state that the discomfort they feel is similar to a slight pressure on their chest as though they finished a hard workout.

You will be given prescription medications to help offset any of your discomfort. It is recommended that you wait 24 hours after surgery before eating large meals, and 48 hours before showering.

Women recovering from breast augmentation should also avoid any heavy lifting for the first 3-5 days after surgery, for risk of rupturing something, or opening wounds.

2. First 5-7 Days

After the first few days, you should be able to shower and return to light physical activities. After the first week, you can start going back to work, resuming regular outings, and using over-the-counter medications to support any pain or discomfort you might still be feeling.

During this time period, you should still maintain regular care of your scars, and also listen to doctor’s orders. It is also important during this time period to check in with your doctor if you feel anything irregular, such as:

  • Severe, persistent pain

  • Constipation, bloating, and fatigue lasting more than a few days

  • Constant pressure that gets worse

  • Hardening or softening of the implant

During the first few days after breast augmentation surgery, it is essential to keep in touch with your plastic surgeon in order to report anything strange, and help answer any questions or concerns you should have. Keeping in contact with your doctor can also help improve the recovery process and results, by offering expert advice.

3. Next 3-5 Weeks

Over the next few weeks, you will notice pronounced upper fullness in your breast. The top part of your breast will swell at first, but this swelling will start to go down after approximately four weeks. The soreness you still feel in your chest, similar to having pulled a muscle, will start to dissipate over the first few weeks.

If these pains and signs of recovery persist through the first 4 weeks and do not seem to be showing signs of healing, you should consider speaking with your surgeon.

4. Full Recovery

Full recovery can take anywhere from 6 months to 1 year. Some women might feel occasional swelling or burning sensations that can extend up to six months. 

In almost all cases, pain stops after the first few months, but can persist throughout the first year in some patients. This full recovery marks the full repair of cells, tissues, and nerve endings - which take the longest amount of time to make a full recovery. After one year, your nerve endings should regenerate, and your feeling in your breasts should completely come back.  

All of the side effects felt including changes to the posture, discomfort, or dull pain will dissipate gradually as your breasts start to settle and assume their more permanent position. Your symptoms should be gone within the first year, and your breasts should take on their final shape, position, and appearance.

III. How long do the results of breast augmentation last?

Your breast augmentation results will last based upon your actions, your surgeon, and the type of procedure you had. Modern breast implants are engineered to last longer, with life spans between 10 and 20 years before they need to be replaced.

If you follow the orders of your surgeon, there is a much higher chance of increasing longevity. If you hire an experienced plastic surgeon with years of breast augmentation experience, this will also increase your chance of breast augmentation longevity.


IV. Tips for a Quick and Healthy Recovery

There are a few post breast augmentation tips that you can use in order to make for a healthy and quick recovery:

1. Invest in a Recovery Bra

A recovery bra is important, as it is used to stabilize your breast implants, prevent unnecessary swelling, and increase blood circulation. Your doctor will recommend how long you are required to wear the recovery bra, based on the type of surgery you had and how intense it was.

You may need to wear your recovery bra for just four weeks after minor surgery, or this time period can be as long as 2 or 3 months for more intense procedures.

Regardless of how long you need the recovery bra, this is one of the most essential breast augmentation after care processes that you should absolutely wear on a daily basis in order to get the best results.

2. Get Plenty of Rest

During breast augmentation surgery, your surrounding tissues and muscles suffer from heavy trauma. As a result, you need rest in order to make a proper recovery. Sleep is a critical part of your recovery process for all strenuous activity, injuries, and trauma including breast augmentation.

When you sleep a sufficient amount, between 7 and 8 hours, you give your body the chance to properly mend the affected area. It is important to ask your doctor about how to sleep after breast augmentation surgery, in order to reduce pain and recover quickly. 

3. Avoid Sexual Activity/Exercise

It is best to wait a minimum of two weeks after a breast augmentation surgery before having sex. If you don't wait long enough, you can manipulate your breasts and move their location. this can also result in opening wounds, or slowing the healing time. You need to wait until your incisions have properly healed to reduce serious risks.

Exercises should be avoided for at least two or three months, especially heavy exercises. You don't want to damage newly healed regions of your breast enhancement by trying to lift heavy weights, only to result in a tear or rupture. Additionally, avoiding exercise immediately after surgery decreases your risk of infection.

4. Diet: Give Your Body Fuel for Recovery

Post breast augmentation, your body needs fuel when it recovers. Add these items to your diet during your recovery:

  1. Citrus fruits high in vitamin C are critical because of their ability to repair collagen and soft tissue. This can also minimize the degree of sensitivity your nerves feel during the first week. You can get vitamin C in citrus fruits as well as bell peppers and tomatoes.

  2. Mushrooms promote bone and skin healing because they have high amounts of vitamin D.

  3. Seafood is great because of the high amount of zinc.

  4. Oatmeal and other whole grains are high in fiber, which is important immediately after surgery because it minimizes the risk of constipation. Constipation is quite common after surgery because of the pain medications and the anesthesia.

  5. Fresh dark vegetables are also high in fiber and can help with this, things like spinach and carrots are high in vitamin A.

  6. Beans are high in iron, which is imperative for creating new blood cells, and new blood cells will help with the healing process immediately after the surgery.

  7. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, which is supportive of cell growth and your immune system. With vitamin A from sweet potatoes or dark green vegetables like spinach, you can better fight infections and speed up the healing process.

  8. Lean meat and eggs are high in protein which helps to repair the muscle damage after surgery.

  9. Getting enough water is also critical in the breast augmentation recovery process. You need to drink enough water to flush out the anesthesia and allow your body to better absorb your medications.

By consuming the right amount of water and the right nutrients after the surgery, you can reduce your chances of nausea, fatigue, and fight off any feelings of lightheadedness. This will also help to speed up the recovery time.

5. Follow Your Doctor’s Orders

Make sure you follow your doctor's orders. Most botched breast augmentation surgeries were not caused by the surgeon, but rather by patients who ignored the advice their doctor provided. Everything given to you by your doctor is designed for you specifically, so be sure to follow orders for the best recovery.  


V. Other Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Augmentation

At 77 Plastic Surgery, we have helped hundreds of satisfied patients to get the breasts that they have always wanted. During this time, we have been asked a lot of questions about breast augmentation procedures, recovery time, what to do, and what results to expect. Some of the most common ones include:

a) How painful is breast augmentation recovery?

Modern breast augmentation surgery is not nearly as painful as many women think. The amount of pain you feel is based upon your:

  • Type of surgery
  • Health
  • Pain threshold

But, many women receive local anesthesia immediately after the surgery, which decreases the nerve pain. Women recovering from breast augmentation also receive medications to thwart the pain immediately after surgery.

b) How do you feel after breast augmentation?

After breast augmentation most women feel slightly light-headed, possibly with an upset stomach. It's common to be dizzy and feel a tightness in the chest. This all goes away within a day or two for most patients, and is mostly caused by anesthesia. Most patients also experience slight pain in the breasts, which can include:

  • Tingling

  • Sharp pain

  • Pounding, or pressure

  • Shocks

  • Swelling

For the most part, a majority of sharp and high levels of pain should be gone after the first few weeks, with nearly all consistent pain gone by the 3-5 week mark. If not, you should consider contacting your doctor to make sure that everything is okay. 

c) How long does it take for nerves to heal after breast augmentation?

The rate of healing to your nerves is based upon how healthy you are and how well you follow your doctor's advice. Typically, this process can take from 6 months to a year, as it is the last part of the breasts to heal after surgery. This can cause a slight difference in feeling in your breasts until they are finally healed completely. It is also the reason a very small percentage of women experience pain for extended time periods after surgery. 

d) How should I sleep after breast augmentation?

After breast augmentation, you should sleep on your back, not your side, with pillows under your back. This will help to reduce any injuries that may occur from laying on your breasts, or rubbing the on things in your sleep. You may not be able to move a lot, but you can still swing your legs back and forth and flex your ankles to decrease stiffness after sleeping.

e) How long do breasts stay swollen after augmentation?

Your breasts will stay swollen for the first few weeks after augmentation. Each woman is different, but after approximately 4 to 12 weeks, all of the swelling should dissipate, although in very rare cases, patients have seen the upper breast swelling continue for 6 months.

f) How long do muscle spasms last after breast augmentation?

Muscle spasms should decrease within the first few weeks, but each patient is different. Typically, they will reduce in duration and frequency within the first 5 to 7 days, and then should be entirely gone within the first 4 weeks. If you do not notice them begin to dissipate, contact your doctor.

g) When can you shower after breast augmentation?

It is recommended that you wait at least 48 hours after breast augmentation before fully showering. Otherwise, the water can affect your scars, as well as affect the settling of your implants due to quick changes in temperature. After the first two days, you can safely shower.

h) How long does pain last after breast augmentation?

The pain should start to dissipate within the first few days, and the overall stiffness or burning sensation in the chest should go away within the first few months. Occasional pain related to strain is to be expected, as you begin to get used to your new breasts. Overall though, pain should begin to dissipate a lot after the first 5 to 7 days, and almost be gone entirely after the first 3 to 5 weeks.


VI. Considering Breast Augmentation Surgery?

If you are considering getting breast augmentation surgery in order to gain more confidence in your figure, you should start by taking this breast augmentation self evaluation in order to make sure that surgery is right for you.

Or, if you are looking to learn more about breast augmentation and the healing process, check out these helpful resources to get more information:

VII. Work With One of America's Top Breast Augmentation Surgeons

When it comes down to it, you don't want to work with anything short of the best when it comes to your body. At 77 Plastic Surgery, our goal is not just to give women more comfort with the feel of their breasts, but actually give them a natural, and wholesome look as well. 

My name is Dr. Larry Fan, and I have been awarded as one of America’s Top Plastic Surgeons for 10 years running. I am committed to helping men and women sculpt their bodies into the ideal shape in order to restore confidence and happiness in their daily lives. Contact us today in order to schedule an appointment with me, and learn more about your breast augmentation options.

Or, if you are looking to make sure that breast augmentation is right for you, fill out this self evaluation.

Wondering if you're a candidate?


About the Author

Dr. Larry Fan is a Harvard educated, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in San Francisco, CA. He is a Master Artist who is known for creating beautiful, stunning, and natural results. Dr. Fan has been named One of America's Top Plastic Surgeons for the past 10 years running and has received several national awards for his work in Plastic Surgery. He has successfully performed more than 10,000 cosmetic procedures of the face, breasts, and body over a 20 year period. Dr Fan has been an invited speaker at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons, and has been featured in national media outlets such as CNN, NBC, and ABC.

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