Whether you've just had breast augmentation or are approaching it, this timeline gives you perspective on the healing process. Having healthy expectations means you'll cope better with the changes your body inevitably goes through, which makes for a better experience.
How long does it take to recover from breast augmentation?
Recovery from breast augmentation takes up to 8 weeks. While you may be able to return to work and your normal life by 5 weeks, it takes approximately 2 months for your body to heal completely.
As for the amount of time you'll need to recover, that depends on several factors:
- Age and overall health
- Fitness level
- Implant size and placement
- Skin and tissue laxity
- Whether other procedures were combined with augmentation
- Ability to follow the surgeon's aftercare instructions
For instance, women who are young, healthy, and physically fit report faster recovery than those who are older, have a poor diet and live a relatively sedentary life. Talk to your plastic surgeon about how your health could impact recovery.
Post-breast augmentation recovery timeline
Your recovery starts the moment you wake up from surgery and ends once you've fully healed. Use this timeline to get a general sense of how long that will be and what that may look like.
Days 1-3: Pain, swelling, and tightness of the chest
The first 72 hours focus on pain management and helping your body heal. Limit your movements. Rest, nap, and use the aid of a friend or a loved one to perform tasks like meal prep and getting to the restroom.
Once the anesthesia wears off, you will experience pain and perhaps nausea. Discomfort is felt most in the chest, which is tight and sore from the skin and, if under the muscle, pectoralis muscle being stretched to accommodate the implants. Swelling and fluid buildup also contribute to this but have the addition of making the breasts feel engorged and the chest heavy.
This is normal, as is bruising, tingling, and nipple sensitivity. A post-surgical bra, cold compresses, prescription medications, and frequent, short-distance walks can ease these symptoms.
Week 1: Ugly breasts, post-op depression, and limited physical activity
Your implants may appear high, distorted, or more like muscles than squishy breasts. Your nipples may also point downward. If you've never seen your chest in this fashion and expected your breasts to be beautiful immediately after surgery, "ugly breast syndrome" can have a mental and emotional toll.
Post-op depression, or the boobie blues, is common. As swelling decreases and your muscles/tissues heal, you start to see the shape of your breasts change and they take on a more natural appearance.
Activity and weight limits are still restrained at this time, with most women being asked to refrain from sexual intercourse and lift nothing heavier than a gallon of milk. Short walks around your room or home every other hour are still recommended to aid blood circulation, reduce swelling, promote healing, and ward off blood clots.
Weeks 2-4: Itchy breasts, shooting pains, and increased activity
The biggest complaints women have at this healing stage are itchy skin, firm implants, low nipples, and awkward shape. The itch can be resolved by applying lotions or anti-itch creams to healed incisions; the other symptoms will take time and patience to go away.
Except for extremely physical occupations, you can go back to work. You should no longer require pain medication and most bruising should be gone. However, there is still swelling and your nerves are stretching, which can cause shooting pains (zingers).
By week 3, you may increase your physical activity and exercise according to your doctor's instructions. Some women are allowed to do light cardio and lower body workouts like squats and lunges but are still told to avoid heavy lifting and activities that involve contact with the chest.
Weeks 5-8: Healed, no swelling, and back to rigorous exercises
At 2 months, swelling is gone and the underlying muscles and tissues have healed. Your breasts look and feel softer but may still sit high on the chest.
You can ease back into arm workouts, jogging, chest exercises, and weightlifting. Speak to your surgeon to determine how much you can lift and how you should lift.
Breast augmentation results
After the recovery phase, you start to see results from your breast augmentation. For the next 4 months, your breasts transition (drop and fluff). They lower, settle into their final position, and fill out the lower breast pocket. The breasts are also plushier.
Smaller, less visible changes then occur up until the one-year mark.
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