Breast augmentation has become increasingly popular; over 300,000 breast augmentation surgeries were performed in the United States in 2019 alone. While the procedure can provide aesthetic benefits, it also comes with challenges during recovery. Proper post-surgery care is crucial for minimizing complications and achieving optimal results.
Breast augmentation recovery can take several weeks to months. Patients must adhere to some safety practices during this time and allow the body time to heal. Rushing through recovery or not following post-op guidelines can impede healing and lead to poor outcomes. Committing to a proper plan gives you the best chance for smooth, complication-free healing. Here are some helpful tips:
1. Follow your surgeon’s instructions
Following your plastic surgeon’s post-op instructions during your breast augmentation recovery is essential. Their guidelines for cleaning incisions, wearing compression garments, taking medications, and other directions are tailored to your procedure and needs. Don’t try to speed up recovery by overexerting yourself – patience is key.
Your surgeon will also tell you of restrictions you must be mindful of, like limitations on raising your arms overhead and guidelines for gentle arm movements. Adhere to these instructions when showering, cleaning incisions, changing dressings, and properly wearing your compression garment.
For those who have just undergone a breast augmentation, relying on general advice or online forums is tempting. However, every surgeon has a slightly different recovery protocol based on the specifics of the procedure and their experience. Sticking to their customized plan gives you the best chance for smooth, uncomplicated healing.
2. Get plenty of rest
After a major procedure, your body needs to conserve energy to start the complex healing process. During the initial recovery period, it’s important to limit any strenuous activity and avoid lifting your arms over your head. Any exertion can put pressure on the incisions and shift the breast implants, hindering proper healing.
Focus on getting lots of sleep and rest. Take short, gentle walks around your home to help circulation, but avoid anything that increases your heart rate. Listen to your body closely during the first week – when you start feeling tired or sore, take it as a sign to rest. Give your body the chance to direct its energy toward recovery. Proper rest will help you bounce back faster.
3. Manage swelling and bruising
During the first few weeks after surgery, it’s common to experience moderate swelling, bruising, and numbness in your breasts and around the incision sites. This is a normal part of the healing process. Cold compresses can help minimize swelling and discomfort during the initial recovery phase. Don’t be alarmed by the bruising and swelling – it will begin gradually subsiding within 2-3 weeks as the healing progresses.
Also, be patient during this stage, as it takes time for the swelling to go down and allow the final results to emerge. Notify your surgeon promptly if you have any severe or worsening swelling, which could indicate a complication like a hematoma. Otherwise, the swelling should reduce on schedule if you stick to the recovery plan.
4. Wear your compression garment
Your surgeon will provide you with a special surgical bra or compression garment to wear for the first few weeks after your breast augmentation. This garment minimizes swelling and supports your breasts as they heal from surgery. It’s crucial to follow the exact directions from your surgeon for when to wear the compression garment and how often to remove it for cleaning and skin checks.
Improperly wearing the garment can impede circulation and healing. Make sure it’s fitted correctly – not too tight or uncomfortable. Your surgeon will also advise you on how many weeks to wear it and the right balance between compression and comfort.
However, don’t ignore discomfort or skin irritation from the garment. If this happens, alert your surgeon so they can adjust the compression approach. Following the garment protocol will keep swelling in check.
5. Watch for signs of infection
While very uncommon, an infection can occur after breast augmentation. Be vigilant about checking your breasts and incisions yourself a few times per day in the first few weeks. Some signs to watch for include increasing breast pain, severe swelling, redness, warmth, pus-like drainage, opening of the incision, and fever.
If you notice any potential infection symptoms, call your surgeon immediately. Trying to treat an infection on your own can make the situation much worse.
6. Avoid sleeping on your stomach
It’s important to avoid sleeping on your stomach for at least the first few weeks after breast augmentation surgery. Sleeping face-down puts pressure on your breasts, which can shift the implant’s position and cause discomfort. Instead, sleep on your back using a few pillows to elevate your head and chest slightly. This position minimizes swelling and discomfort.
You’ll likely feel most comfortable sleeping on your back during the initial recovery period. Once your surgeon confirms it’s safe, you can sleep on your side. Listen to your body and find positions that don’t put pressure on the implant area. Give your breasts time to recover before resuming your normal sleeping positions.
7. Wear comfortable, loose clothing
Tight clothing can rub against your incisions, so look for button-up tops that don’t need to be pulled over your head. This avoids lifting your arms overhead before you get medical clearance. A front-closure sports bra or soft bralette can provide gentle support. However, get it approved by your surgeon.
Avoid underwire bras, restrictive bands, and any clothing that puts pressure on your breasts during early recovery. Let your breasts settle into their new shape and size before wearing your regular bras. Focus on soft, gentle fabrics that don’t irritate the sensitive surgical areas.
Recovering from breast augmentation surgery takes diligence and patience. Following your cosmetic surgeon’s instructions and these tips will help your breasts heal beautifully. Rest, allow your body time to heal, and avoid activities that can impede progress. Optimal recovery means you’ll return to normal activities and enjoy your new look sooner. Stay focused on proper aftercare and be gentle with yourself throughout your recovery journey. With the right plan, you’ll feel like yourself again before you know it.