Breast augmentation, also called augmentation mammoplasty or casually referred to as “boob job” is a quick elective surgery to increase the size or the fullness of the breasts.
There are a lot of reasons why women opt for breast augmentation surgery. Whether you have an uneven volume of fat in your breast area, are dissatisfied with the size of your breasts, or need a lift after breastfeeding, it all comes down to bringing confidence back.
Despite being cosmetic in nature, breast augmentation surgery is still a major operation. Assisting your body and applying the best practices for recovery will help your breasts heal without complications. You must work hand in hand with your surgeon and equip yourself with as much knowledge as you can to take care of yourself pre and post surgery.
Here’s everything that you can expect during the recovery period.
After the operation, here are some things you need to consider:
- When you wake up after the procedure, you might feel loopy and funny because of the pain medicine and anesthesia. While you are able to make minimal movements, you can’t drive yourself home or participate in any activity that will require mental focus. Make sure that you will be assisted by at least 1 caretaker who will take you home and assist you post surgery.
- As far as pain goes, you will feel more discomfort than pain since you will be given numbing creams and painkillers that will last you a while. It’s exactly why you might feel funny for as long as the medicine is in your system.
- Your surgeon will recommend you wear a supportive bra while in recovery (ideally for around 6 months). A surgical bra may be provided, but high-impact sports bras or compression bras will work just fine. Make sure to choose bras that open from the front so as not to strain your arms. You will not be able to do much with them during the first few days after the operation.
- Avoid straining your chest area by refraining from lifting heavy objects and wearing inappropriate bras. Keep the surgical bra on for support and as much as possible, avoid bralettes and wire bras for up to 6 months.
It is normal to experience bruising and swelling around your breast area post-op. Feeling tightness is also a common feeling for the first 2 days. Cold therapy by using gel packs or clay packs will definitely help calm the soreness.
- You will not be able to shower on your own because you cannot stretch your arms from the surgery. Your stitches can also be infected when it gets wet so request for waterproof tape to cover your stitches until your next doctor’s visit. Alternatively, ask for assistance whenever you’re washing your body or your hair.
- Light walking is highly recommended to help with blood circulation, thus preventing any blood clots from forming.
- Drinking loads of water can help with flushing out the anesthesia post-op. As you take pain medication during your recovery period, remember that these meds can cause constipation so drinking a lot of water helps prevent that.
- While pain, discomfort, swelling, and bruising are completely normal, you must go to the doctor if you get fever as this could be a sign of an infection.
- You have to sleep on our back during the whole duration of your recovery period. Sleeping on your chest or sides can put pressure on your implants and stitches, and can cause an infection. You’ll have to sleep on your back for a while and wait for the green light from your doctor before you can sleep on your sides or chest (in some cases, it can take a full year).
- Use supporting pillows to make you comfortable, and when you catch yourself sleeping on your side, immediately correct your position. If you’re someone who’s used to sleeping on your stomach or side, this position will take a little getting used to.
- If you’re reading this before your surgery, practice sleeping on your back as early as you can. It will be one less thing to worry about once you’re home after surgery. This will also ensure that you will get the right amount of sleep to help you recover fast.
1 Week Post-Op
The day after your surgery isn’t all that bad since there’s still anesthesia in your system. The days following that, however, have been regarded as the worst part of the recovery process. But don’t fret - it will only last a week.
- Aside from the discomfort, there have been cases where women report experiencing postoperative depression. Some women need an adjustment period to get used to the look of their new breasts, and others report brief moments of doubt with their decision to get the surgery. If you ever experience symptoms like low mood, fatigue, change in appetite, a loss of interest, irritability, and other symptoms of depression, know that it is normal. Post-surgical depression can last for a couple of days up to a month.
- During these times, it is important to reach out for help and support. This is also the time to take care of yourself even more by eating healthy and being active (but not too active).
- Given that the implants have not completely settled or are still swollen, women might feel like they chose the wrong size or regret the procedure altogether. The look of your breasts will improve as it “drops and fluffs,” (a process that takes 6 months) finally settling into its intended position once the muscles in your breast relax.
- You will not be completely helpless but you might need a designated caretaker to assist you with menial tasks from time to time.
- You can go back to work 2-4 days after your surgery, but you can not do any heavy lifting or anything too strenuous.
- As for the pain and swelling, you might still feel stinging or discomfort since your skin and nerves are being stretched because of your implant. Your nipples might experience pain or numbness. You might also notice stretch marks forming, so you can apply moisturizer or oil to help reduce its appearance.
1 Month Post-Op
By this time, you’re most likely used to your new boobs and might not feel as much pain and discomfort, except for the occasional random pains and pulls. However, there are some things you still have to remember.
- Your stitches have been around long enough for them to accumulate moisture and dirt, so make sure to clean them thoroughly to avoid infection.
- After the one month mark, you can already start with light exercise if you’ve been exercising before your surgery. 6 weeks is the prescribed time until you can fully return to your normal function, but you will still be restricted from using weights that weigh more than 10 pounds.
- You might experience what’s called a “morning boob,” which manifests as a tightness and hardness in your breasts for the first 30 minutes when you wake up. This is nothing to worry about and is completely normal.
- Morning boob is due to muscle spasm. During your sleep, you don’t move your arms around very much and so your pecs (pectoralis muscles located in your chest) are not engaged. Since your pecs have not been fully accustomed to the implants, it tries to return to its unstretched state. Thus, your breasts might feel tight when you wake up. After a few light movements, the discomfort disappears altogether.
At this stage, you need to be aware of capsular contracture. Capsular contracture is a breast augmentation complication which happens when the scar tissue or ‘capsule’ that naturally develops around your implant squeezes or chokes the implants. This is an immune system response and it can happen as early as a month after your surgery or even years after.
Capsular contracture develops gradually. It starts out normal and the first sign is usually a high-riding breast/s. After that, pain and firmness may be felt around your implants.
As you already know, your implants are supposed to drop to its intended position but if you notice that they are doing the exact opposite, you should consult a doctor immediately.
The degree of capsular contracture is graded using the four-grade Baker scale:
- Grade 1: The breasts are normal, soft, and appears natural
- Grade 2: The breasts are a little firm, but appears natural and normal
- Grade 3: The breasts are firm and appears high-riding or unnatural
- Grade 4: The breasts are hard, appears high-riding or unnatural, and is painful to the touch
Your risk of getting capsular contracture increases when you get an infection, hematoma (collection of blood outside a blood vessel), or seroma (fluid build-up under the surface of the skin).
It is important to call your doctor immediately when you feel like something is wrong with your implants. The most effective treatment of capsular contracture is by removing the scar tissue/capsule surrounding your implants, or by removing or replacing your implants.
6 Months Post Op
After 6 months, your breasts are considered fully healed. You can now go back to your normal activities and enjoy your new breasts. Still, keep these few things in mind:
- You need to still sleep on your back until you get a green light from your surgeon to avoid putting pressure on your implant or your stitches.
- 6 months after the surgery is also when the “drop and fluff” process is completed. When the drop and fluff process ends, your pectoral muscles relax, the implants drop to their final place, and fluff out into the space where they should be.
- Numbness especially around your nipples is completely normal. Unfortunately, the numbing can last up to two years for some people.
Recovery after breast augmentation needs to be slow and steady. For your stitches to fully heal and for your implants to beautifully settle, you need to support your body’s natural healing process. Use supportive bras for as long as necessary, avoid infection by taking care of your stitches and protecting your implants, and tend to your pain.
You can always ask your doctor for medication, but as much as you can, go natural and relieve bruising, swelling, and pain by cold therapy. IceWraps carries a wide range of gel packs and clay packs for soothing pain relief.
If you’re a business or a clinic, we produce custom gel packs of different sizes for your patients. You can see our full list of custom packs here.