Breast Augmentation Checklist: Pre- and Post-Operation

Go through this checklist to make sure you're prepared for surgery; and post-operation, ensure your recovery is as quick and seamless as possible.

Be Prepared Before Your Operation:

  • Buy a few larger bras (preferably the cup-size you'd like to be after your surgery, but NOT padded bras), pad them, and wear them under your clothes. This will help you get used to your new size.
  • Drink a lot of water in the days prior to your surgery. This may help ward off nausea after your surgery.
  • You will want to practice sleeping on your back and/or propped up on pillows because you will be sleeping like this for a few days after your surgery.
  • Make sure you tell your surgeon about any and all medications (including, but not limited to, heart medication, blood pressure medication, insulin, antidepressants, etc.), vitamins, and herbal or homeopathic remedies you are taking.
  • Stop taking aspiring, aspirin-containing meds/products, ibuprofen, and all vitamins and herbs for at LEAST 2 weeks prior to your surgery. Some surgeons recommend not taking them for 30 days prior to surgery, so check with your surgeon regarding the types of medications you need to avoid. Many types of vitamins, herbs, and meds, will cause the blood to thin, which is why you do not need to take anything without your surgeon's approval.
  • If your period is due around the time of your scheduled surgery date, make sure you let your surgeon know. Some surgeons do not like operating if the patient is on her period. Others don't mind. Also, some surgeons prefer you to wear a pad, versus a tampon, so make sure you ask about these things.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes to surgery. A button or zip-up top is preferable, with pull-on pants, and slip-on shoes/sneakers.
  • If you smoke, you need to quit for 4-6 weeks prior to surgery. If you cannot quit, cut back as much as you possibly can. This is ESPECIALLY true is you are having a breast lift. Smoking reduces the oxygen levels in the blood, which will inhibit healing. In patients having breast lifts, this COULD lead to necrosis (tissue death). So do your best to stop smoking prior to your surgery.
  • Do abdominal exercises to help strengthen those muscles. You will be using them a lot after surgery, so the stronger they are, the better.
  • Have easy-to-wear clothes ready. You will be wearing button-up shirts for a week or so (possibly longer), so have these, and pull-on pants ready so that you don't have to search for them after the surgery.
  • Clean your house and do all the laundry a day or two before your surgery, so that you don't have to worry about it for several days after surgery.
  • Have clean sheets and pillow cases on your bed. You won't feel like doing this for at least a week.
  • Make up your sofa with sheets, blankets, and pillows.
  • Do all of your grocery shopping is done. Buy enough to last for 2 weeks or so.
  • If your surgeon will give you your prescriptions prior to surgery, go ahead and get them filled.
  • Ask your surgeon if he will prescribe anti-nausea medication. You may also want to ask if he prescribes Valium (or something equivalent) to take the night or morning of surgery, which will help you relax.
  • On the day of your surgery, reiterate to your surgeon what you want/have discussed, such as the type of implant, size, etc.
  • Take a pillow with you for the ride home, for added comfort.
  • Take a shower, wash your hair, and shave the morning prior to surgery. If you are getting the transax incision, please take your time shaving. You don't want to cut yourself, as this could introduce bacteria, which could ultimately lead to an infection.
  • Walk through your house with your elbows held close to your sides. This will give you an idea of how you'll feel for the first few days after surgery. Anything you cannot reach, you will need to get down so that you CAN reach it. Examples are snacks, dishes, etc.
  • Make sure you do not wear fingernail polish (on hands or feet) when you have surgery. Oxygen levels are sometimes monitored just by looking at the color of the nail bed. If it's blue in color, this means that you aren't getting enough oxygen. It's very important not to wear polish.

Taking Care of Yourself After Your Operation:

  • Make sure you have someone to take you home after surgery, and stay with you for at least 24 hours, preferably the first 48 hours. This is VERY important.
  • Have reasonable expectations regarding the outcome of your surgery.
  • Eat something when you take your pain meds. Sometimes, a few crackers don't do the trick. Eat a piece of plain bread or a peanut butter sandwich. Pain meds can upset the stomach. Eating usually helps ward off potential nausea.
  • Ask your surgeon if you can take Bromelain, and Arnica Montana, for bruising and swelling. You should not take these for more than 10 days. Ask your surgeon about this PRIOR to surgery, and only take it with his or her approval.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages for at least 24 hours.
  • Make sure you have your surgeon’s phone number, as well as emergency/after-hours number by your phone(s).
  • Buy 4 bags of frozen fruit (not vegetables, cause they don't smell very good when they start thawing) to use for swelling. You may opt to put these bags in large freezer (ziplock) bags, to keep the moisture off of you. Two of these bags can be kept in the freezer, while you are using the other two. Another variable to this would be to put crushed ice in a ziplock back. This is easy if you have an icemaker in your refrigerator. You may also purchase reusable icepacks from the drug store.
  • Buy simple, light foods at the grocery store, such as crackers, puddings, jello, soups, applesauce, etc., in case you don't have much of an appetite. Ensure or Boost (nutritional drinks) will give you the vitamins and nutrients your body needs if you don't feel like eating anything.
  • Have a heating pad handy for your back, as it may get sore due to your sleeping positions early post-op. Do NOT put a heating pad on your breasts. They will most likely be numb, and you could inadvertently burn yourself.
  • If you don't get your prescriptions until after the surgery, get them filled at the hospital pharmacy. If you have an insurance/pharmacy card, don't forget to take it with your on the day of your surgery.
  • Have a good supply of magazines, books, and videos, since you won't feel like doing much of anything for the first few days/week following surgery. Comedies are not recommended, especially if you have implants placed under the muscle, because they make you laugh, which causes your pectoral muscles to tighten/contract.
  • Put your toilet paper on the floor, in case you don't feel like reaching for it.
  • You may want to refrain from wearing underwear, as that's one less thing you'll have to pull up after using the bathroom and/or taking a shower.
  • Purchase Shea's Butter cream lotion, or the lotion of your choice, to use on your breasts. (My personal favorite is Nivea lotion for extra dry skin.) Your skin may get dry due to stretching. If you get the nipple or crease incision, take good care not to get any lotion on your incision until it is completely closed.
  • Keep a journal. Write down how you're doing from day to day, what aches and pains you're experiencing, swelling amounts, etc. This is really good to help track your progress, and is also good when you see your doctor. You won't forget to mention the "little" things that you might otherwise forget.
  • Take after photos, including front, side, and oblique shots. This will help you to track your progress. You will most likely be looking at your new breasts often, which makes it hard to notice the small changes that take place daily. Take photos of yourself in the same clothes you took your before pics in. You can then compare the before and after clothed pics, as well as the before and after topless pics. Taking photos on a weekly basis is sufficient.
  • If you have problems with itching, you may want to put lotion on your breasts (being careful to avoid the incisions). Putting ice packs on may help as well. Seems a temperature change helps sometimes. Itching is usually due to the skin stretching.
  • Your surgeon will most likely mark you prior to surgery. These blue markings can be removed with rubbing alcohol, or fingernail polish remover. Make SURE you do not get this on your incisions.
  • Constipation is common after surgery. Pain meds often cause it. Have a mild laxative on hand, such as Correctol, FiberCon, or Metamucil, just in case. Continue drinking lots of water, as this will help move things along as well. It's also great for your skin!
  • You will most likely have swelling after your surgery. Do NOT take a diuretic, unless your surgeon has approved it. Drinking lots of water and moving around a bit will help the swelling dissipate.
  • If you have nausea, you can take the anti-nausea meds your surgeon prescribes. If you don't get any nausea meds, or if you run out, you can try ginger, or peppermint, both of which are supposed to help with nausea. Taking a quick sniff of rubbing alcohol has also been known to help nausea.
  • Shaving your underarms may be difficult at first. Use a hair remover like Nair until you are able to shave again. Alternatively, you may opt to have them waxed.
  • Don't slouch. Walk with your shoulders held back. This will save you some back pain. Slouching only aggravates the situation.
  • Make certain that you know the signs of infection, which include (but are not limited to) fever (especially over 101), pus, redness, inflammation, breasts that are hot-to-the-touch, excessive swelling, and flu-like symptoms. Call your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms. Infections can be very serious, so know the signs.
  • Have natural (not synthetic) vitamin E on hand to start taking after surgery. Vitamin E may help prevent capsule contracture. There is no evidence of this, but it doesn't hurt to use it. HOWEVER, you must wait until you are at least 2 weeks post-op before starting it, because it thins the blood.
  • Do not take aspirin, garlic supplements, or ibuprofen for at least 2 weeks after your surgery, as they thin the blood also. Talk with your doctor before taking ANY over-the-counter drug, or vitamin/herbal remedy/supplement.
  • Get a lot of rest. Even if you feel you are having an easy recovery, it is important to remember that your body has been through a lot, and it will take a while for you to heal on the inside. The body needs energy to promote good healing, so rest as much as you can. Don't push yourself to do too much too soon.
  • Make sure you get your device cards from your surgeon.
  • You may experience mood swings after your surgery. This is normal. General anesthesia, along with pain meds and lack of sleep, can cause this to happen. This will pass, and again, is normal.
  • Your nipples may be very sensitive after your surgery. You can try numbing creams, nursing pads, and silky camisoles, if your nipples are overly sensitive after surgery.
  • You will be the most uncomfortable during the first 3 days. After that, things will start looking up. It's common to experience more soreness in the morning. However, once you get up, and start moving around, those muscles loosen up a bit, and you'll feel much better.
  • Do NOT submerge your incision in a tub bath until it is completely closed. Doing so can introduce bacteria/infection. You may take tub baths, as long as you don't do this. Taking showers and allowing the water to beat down on your chest will help the muscles relax. Make sure the water isn't too hot.

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