Because breast augmentation is one of the more popular cosmetic operations in plastic surgery, women who are considering the procedure come to us with questions – and not just a few.
We understand this step for aesthetic correction or reconstruction is significant and requires the patient to be well-informed before making her decision. Many of the questions we hear are about recovery. Women want to know how long the surgery will affect their daily routine. If you are researching breast implants and breast augmentation surgery, here are 20 of the most common questions we hear.
AFTER BREAST AUGMENTATION…
HOW LONG BEFORE I CAN BATHE OR SHOWER?
We ask our patients to avoid getting their incision wet for at least 48 to 72 hours. You can sponge carefully in those first 72 hours, but keep those incisions dry. You should not submerge in a warm bath for at least two weeks.
HOW SOON CAN I GO BACK TO WORK?
Although returning to work after breast augmentation depends on each patient’s unique ability to heal, there is a benchmark you can refer to when making your decision. We suggest you plan to be away from work for at least one week. This timeframe will allow your incisions to heal to the point where you can move around with minimal discomfort. If possible always take a little extra time off. If your job involves strenuous lifting, you will need to avoid that for 6 weeks so you may need to talk to your work about doing light duties over that time period.
HOW SOON CAN I DRIVE?
Driving after breast augmentation will depend on whether you are still taking prescription pain medication. Most patients can resume driving after one week because they no longer require taking their pain medication. If you feel the need to use prescription drugs to reduce discomfort, don’t drive until you can stop these medications.
HOW SOON WILL MY IMPLANTS DROP INTO PLACE?
Your breasts may look slightly higher than you expected after surgery because the implants have yet to drop into position. After surgery, the lower half of the breasts are tight, causing the implants to remain high and look swollen. When you choose to have your implants placed under the muscle, it will take some time for them to drop into the correct position. Your implants should settle the first 1-2 months but we always say the final outcome is best judged at 3 months.
HOW SOON CAN I WEAR A NORMAL BRA?
After the surgery, you will go home with a surgical bra/compression garment to help support your implants and encourage your incisions to heal quickly. These help control swelling and also take the weight of the breast implant preventing them from dropping too low or towards the outside of the chest while the capsule (scar tissue) around the implant develops. Underwire bras may irritate the incision site if they are in the natural breast crease and therefore interfere with wound healing.
We recommend wearing a surgical bra or a comfortable sports bra (no underwires) for the first 6 to 8 weeks. After this time you may wear an underwire bra.
HOW SOON AFTER BREAST AUGMENTATION CAN I HAVE SEX?
The answer to this question may rely more on you and your comfort level. One thing is for certain: You must wait until your breasts have healed enough before resuming intimate activities. We recommend waiting at least two weeks before having sex. Make sure your partner is gentle, especially with your breasts. If you had a breast lift at the same time as your breast augmentation, your waiting period might be longer.
HOW SOON AFTER SURGERY CAN I RESUME EXERCISING?
Although we will ask you to move around as soon as the same day of your surgery, a workout regimen is different. It’s essential not to elevate your heart rate for at least one week after breast augmentation. Then, you may do low-impact exercises like using an elliptical machine or stationary bike, but no jogging or running.
For runners, start slowly from 4 weeks with short distances before gradually increasing each week. If you are resuming chest exercises like push-ups, wait six to eight weeks, starting slowly and working your way up. You can continue to consult with us during recovery about when you should start easing back into your workout regimen. If lifting weights is part of your exercise routine, you should not resume heavy lifting for at least 12 weeks.
HOW SOON CAN I SWIM AFTER BREAST AUGMENTATION?
There are two things to keep in mind when you go swimming after breast augmentation. The first is the water’s ability to penetrate the incisions and cause infection, and the next is excessive stretching in the treatment site.
Swimming is not bathing, so you should wait at least three weeks before returning to the water. This period will allow your incisions to heal enough, so there will be no penetration. When you do go back, don’t go overboard (no pun, really), but limit your swimming to hanging out in the water with possibly a light lap or two. If your swimming involves serious training, you should delay for at least three months.
HOW SOON CAN I GO POOLSIDE OR TO THE BEACH?
OK, we’ve already addressed swimming and getting your incisions wet, but going to the beach doesn’t necessarily mean getting into the water. One of the issues with returning to the beach is sun exposure. Healing tissue does not endure the sun’s UV rays very well. To make sure your scarring is minimal, you should protect your incisions from the sun until they fade to a pale color and are soft and flat. This recovery may take several months to a year, depending on how fast you heal. We therefore recommend taping scars in the first 6 to 12 months- taping alone helps flatten scars but it also protects them from the harsh UV rays which can turn the scars darker.
HOW SOON WILL I BE ABLE TO SLEEP ON MY BELLY?
We recommend you sleep on your back during recovery after breast surgery, but this is temporary for our patients who usually prefer to sleep on their side or tummy. You can resume sleeping on your side after about 2 weeks but you need to wear your bra during sleep. Sleeping on your chest though needs to be postponed to the 6 week mark.
HOW SOON WILL I SEE THE RESULTS?
Although you will notice a change in your breast contours immediately after surgery, your complete results will take some time. You can expect some level of swelling after surgery, which may take several weeks to subside entirely. Your implants will also take some time to drop into their optimal position and settle. Rarely do both implants do this at the same time, so be aware one implant may drop before the other.
If you take care of your incisions and follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions to the letter, you should enjoy complete results after about three months.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET IMAGING AFTER BREAST AUGMENTATION?
If you have silicone implants, its recommended that you continue your regular breast cancer surveillance which is recommended every 2 years for women aged over 50, and earlier if there is strong family history.
For monitoring the breast implants themselves we recommend getting a yearly ultrasound once the implants reach 10 years of age. If the ultrasound is reported as clear of any problems you can be rest assured everything is okay. However if the ultrasound suggests a rupture this may not be accurate and in that case a MRI scan is recommended. Usually if this is the case our patients would return to see us to get this organised and we encourage them to seek our opinion.
HOW SOON CAN I TRAVEL AFTER BREAST AUGMENTATION?
Given the time you will need to recover, traveling after surgery will be unique to each patient’s pain tolerance and the details of your trip. In most cases, you should be able to travel wherever you want after two weeks. If the trip is a minor day trip in a car, perhaps sooner. If you plan to fly, you should wait at least two weeks. If you already have a trip planned after surgery, you can talk it over with your surgeon during your consultation as perhaps the most important thing is that you are not far away for your aftercare and follow-up with the surgeon.
CAN I MASSAGE MY BREASTS AFTER SURGERY?
We ask our patients to wait until your postoperative visit before you start any massage. In fact massage after breast augmentation is not recommended like it used to be with old silicone implants. By pressing the breasts too soon, you may increase the risk of implants moving out of position.
However we encourage scar massage to improve the final scar outcome and this is usually commenced at the two to three week mark.
WHEN WILL I BE ABLE TO GET OFF PAIN MEDICATION?
All patients tolerate pain differently, but we feel you should try to limit your dependence on pain meds soon after breast augmentation. Although we recommend you stay ahead of your discomfort on the day of surgery and the day after, you should look to limit your intake within three days and stop taking them altogether after five days to a week. The sooner you get off your pain meds, the quicker you will be able to drive and start to focus fully on your healing. We will usually provide written instructions regarding how you should taper your pain relief medications in line with your recovery.
HOW SOON CAN I GET PREGNANT AFTER BREAST AUGMENTATION?
This question is subjective to both patient and surgeon. If you are planning to get pregnant soon after surgery, you should perhaps wait, as pregnancy may have some impact on your final results. However, it is not unsafe to conceive after breast augmentation, so the answer is anytime. This conversation is good to bring up during your consultation, so you can plan accordingly.
HOW LONG SHOULD I WAIT AFTER HAVING CHILDREN TO HAVE BREAST AUGMENTATION?
Again, the answer to this question will depend on your breast augmentation recovery as well as your weight. Because some mothers require more time to get back down to healthy body weight, it will take longer to be ready for surgery. Also, if you are breastfeeding, you should wait for at least three to six months after you stop lactating.
If you are not breastfeeding, you should wait at least three months after delivering your child before having breast augmentation.
WHEN WILL I RECOVER NORMAL SENSATIONS IN MY BREASTS AFTER SURGERY?
The pressure as a result of swelling as well as the surgery itself may cause some numbness of the nipple or breast skin. Your normal breast sensation should return but this can take six months to a year. There is however a small chance that the sensation does not return to normal and you should discuss this with your surgeon during the preoperative consultation.
HOW SOON CAN I HAVE A REVISION IF I AM NOT HAPPY WITH MY RESULTS?
First, if you are not happy with your results, it may be because you have yet to realize them. If you find your breasts not the size you expected after surgery, it’s probably because the implants have yet to drop and the swelling yet to settle. However, if it has been several months since your surgery and you are still not happy with the results, you can seek a revision after one year. Obviously discuss your concerns with your surgeon to make sure what you are after is in fact achievable and where the shortfall in expectations occurred.
WHEN SHOULD I SCHEDULE A BREAST SURGERY CONSULTATION TO DISCUSS NEXT STEPS?
If you are considering breast augmentation, but have many questions you would like to have answered in person by a board-certified plastic surgeon, don’t wait any longer. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Aggarwal today and schedule a consultation.