Breast Augmentation Pre- and Post-Op Care

There’s a lot of information out there about breast augmentation surgery, and it all can be overwhelming, especially if you've never had this type of operation before. There are so many what ifs, and perhaps even anxiety or anxiousness leading up to it. But if you prepare yourself for the weeks and days leading up to your surgery, as well as those that come after, your nerves will be eased and you will have a much more positive experience.

We’ve gathered some handy tips and suggestions for taking the best care of yourself pre- and post-operation so that you can have the best outcome. We organized it all into a timeline, letting you know exactly what to do and when. Get those ice packs ready!

A Month Before Breast Augmentation Surgery

___ If your menstrual cycle is due around the time of your scheduled surgery date, tell your surgeon. Some surgeons do not like operating if the patient is on their period, while others don't mind. Also, some surgeons prefer you wear a pad versus a tampon during surgery if you need it, so ask what their preference is.

___ If you smoke, quit for 4-6 weeks prior to surgery. If you cannot quit, cut back as much as you possibly can. This is especially true if 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).

___ Do abdominal exercises to help strengthen those muscles. You will be using them a lot after surgery, so the stronger they are, the better. Also, stretching the upper body as well as strength training with low weights, will help with your posture and strength level following surgery.

___ 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; you won’t know the extent of your physical limitations until after the surgery, and you need someone who will make sure you will be comfortable and safe.

___ A well-balanced, nutritious diet should be maintained regardless of whether you have a breast augmentation or not, but it is especially important in the weeks leading up to your surgery as well as after, to promote proper healing and reduce recovery time.

___ If you are ill and suffering from something such as a cold or virus, you will want to address it immediately, for an illness could cause your surgery to be rescheduled. Patients should be in good health prior to a breast augmentation to prevent complications.

__ Get your pre-operative tests out of the way, including a mammogram, which is required for women over the age of 30. Test results should be to your surgeon's office no later than three days before your pre-operative visit.

___ Be sure you've made necessary arrangements. This means scheduling time off of work to recovery from your breast augmentation (on average, 5-7 days) and pinpointing someone to help with housework, children and any duties that would normally require you to be physical or mobile (driving). You will want this support person to also provide companionship and emotional support, so choose this person wisely.

Two to Three Weeks Before Breast Augmentation Surgery

___ Shop for your post-surgical bra. While a post-operative bra will be provided to you, and to which you will wear right after surgery, many women like to purchase a more comfortable bra or camisole and tank top (with built-in bras, of course) that they can wear for the first 4-6 weeks. Get recommendations from your surgeon as to which he believes will offer the most support without sacrificing comfort.

___ Avoid exercises that could lead to shoulder, back, neck, arm, pectoral or abdominal injury.

___ Guard yourself against illness by frequently washing your hands and staying away from large crowds or those who are ill.

___ Tell your surgeon about any and all medications, herbs or supplements you are taking, including birth control. They will likely advise you to stop these for at least two weeks prior to your surgery, as they can increase your risk of bleeding and other complications. 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.

___ Ask your surgeon if you can take Arnica Montana for bruising and swelling after the surgery. Ask your surgeon about this prior to surgery, and only take it with their approval.

The Week of Breast Augmentation Surgery

___ If your surgeon will give you prescriptions prior to surgery, get them filled.

___ Practice sleeping on your back, sides and/or propped up on pillows because you will be sleeping like this for approximately six weeks after your surgery.

___ You won’t feel like doing much of anything for the first few days or even a week following surgery, so have a good supply of magazines, books, and DVDs on hand. (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.)

___ Ask your surgeon if they will prescribe anti-nausea medication and/or Valium (or something equivalent) to take the night or morning of surgery, which will help you relax.

___ Since you will be asked to avoid lifting your arms above your shoulders—this could lead to your surgical incision opening—and will be in no condition to bend low or hunch over, you will want to shave your underarms and any other regions at this time. Those who are having an armpit incision (transaxillary) or navel incision (trans-umbilical)will need to shave two or more days before. Shaving results in mini abrasions to the skin, which can boost bacterial levels and your risk for infection.

___ A breast augmentation cannot be performed on a woman who is pregnant, so a pregnancy test will be performed before surgery. Exceptions are for women who are beyond their childbearing years or who have had a tubal ligation or hysterectomy.

A Few Days Before Breast Augmentation Surgery

___ Drink a lot of water in the days prior to your surgery. This may help ward off nausea after your surgery.

___ Have easy-to-wear clothes ready, including button-up shirts, leggings, and your comfiest pajamas. Consider stacking everything up on your dresser to minimize strain on your arms opening and closing drawers.

___ Clean your house and do all your laundry a day or two before your surgery so that you don't have to worry about it for a while after your breast augmentation.

___ 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, such as snacks and dishes, you will need to move to a more accessible location.

___ Go grocery shopping, enough to last a couple weeks. In case you don’t have much of an appetite post-op, stock up on simple and light foods such as crackers, pudding, soup, applesauce, fruit, etc. Nutritional drinks like Ensure or Boost will give you the vitamins and nutrients your body needs if you really don't feel like eating anything.

___ Buy four bags of frozen fruit (vegetables smell bad when they start thawing) to use for swelling. Two of these bags can be kept in the freezer while you are using the other two. (Another option is to put crushed ice in a Ziploc bag or to purchase reusable ice packs from the drugstore.)

___ Purchase a rich body cream or lotion to use on your breasts. Your skin may get dry due to stretching. (If you have a nipple or crease incision, take good care not to get any lotion on your incision until it is completely closed).

___ If you are staying at a hotel for the first 24 to 48 hours after your procedure, you will want to call and make sure they are prepared for your arrival.

___ Contact your support person and ensure he or she is on the same page with you. This person should understand all of your post-operative needs/instructions.

24 Hours Before Breast Augmentation Surgery

___ Place a heating pad near your couch or bed for your back, as it may get sore due to your sleeping positions post-op. (Do not put a heating pad on your breasts. They will most likely be numb, and you could inadvertently burn yourself.)

___ Make sure you have your surgeon’s phone number, as well as emergency and/or after-hours numbers, entered into your cell phone and posted next to any landlines.

___ Remove any nail polish from fingers and toes. (Oxygen levels are sometimes monitored just by looking at the color of the nail bed.)

___ Take some “before” photos from the front and sides so you can document the change.

___ Use the surgical soap provided by your surgeon the night before and the morning of your surgery.

___ Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.

___ Get plenty of rest and relaxation the night before your expected surgery.

The Day of Breast Augmentation Surgery

___ Put clean sheets and pillow cases on your bed. Make up your couch with sheets, blankets, and pillows so you have multiple places to rest.

___ Take a shower and wash your hair.

___ Wear loose-fitting clothes to surgery. A button-down or zip-up top is preferable, with leggings and slip-on shoes.

___ Remove makeup, body piercings, jewelry, hair clips and contact lenses.

___ Take a pillow with you for the ride home, for added comfort.

___ Reiterate to your surgeon the details of your augmentation, such as the type of implant, size, etc.

Taking Care of Yourself After a Breast Augmentation

___ Eat something when you take your pain medication. Sometimes a few crackers don’t do the trick and you will need something more substantial like a sandwich.

___ Wear your surgeon-supplied surgical bra and compression bands until told otherwise by your doctor. After this stint, you will need to wear a supportive bra (underwire or push-up) for at least six weeks.

___ Constipation is common after surgery because of pain medications. Have a mild laxative on hand, such as Correctol, FiberCon, or Metamucil, but ask your doctor before you take it. Continue drinking lots of water, as this will help move things along as well.

___ Do not take certain medications, herbs and supplements (e.g., aspirin, garlic supplements, or ibuprofen) for at least two weeks after your surgery. Talk with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter drug or vitamin/herbal remedy or supplement.

___ 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.

___ Do not drink alcoholic beverages for at least 24 hours.

___ Make certain you know the signs of infection, which include (but are not limited to) fever, 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.

___ Do not submerge your incisions in water until they’re completely closed (e.g., don’t go swimming, take baths or get in a hot tub). This could take about two weeks. Doing so can introduce bacteria and/or infection.

___ Do not shower for the first few days after surgery. Your surgeon will give you the green light when to do so. When he or she does, make sure the water isn't too hot and dry your wounds well. A towel may suffice, but using a hairdryer on a low setting will work better.

___ Get a lot of rest. Even if you feel you’re having an easy recovery, it’s 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.

___ Keep a journal. Write down how you're doing from day to day, what aches and pains you're experiencing, the amount of swelling, etc. This will help track your progress and be a handy reference when you visit your doctor post-op.

___ Take “after” photos from the front and sides. This will also help 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. (In photos with clothing, wear the same outfit you took the “before” photos in.)

___ 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.

___ Your nipples may be very sensitive after your surgery. Try numbing creams, nursing pads, and silky camisoles if your nipples are overly sensitive after surgery

___ If you have problems with itching, it’s likely due to the stretching of the skin. You can put lotion on your breasts, but be careful to avoid the incisions. Ice packs may help as well.

___ Don't slouch. Walk with your shoulders held back. This will save you some back pain. Slouching only aggravates the situation.

___ You may experience mood swings after your surgery, which is normal due to general anesthesia, pain medications, and lack of sleep. This will pass and, again, is normal.

___ You will be the most uncomfortable during the first three 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.

Updated October 2016

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