Breast Augmentation Recovery Timeline

April 26, 2014

The most difficult period of breast augmentation surgery is the weeks after surgery, as patient heals and starts to return to normal activities. Plastic surgeons will provide patients with a specific list of post-operative instructions, including what needs to be avoided, a general timeline to help patients determine when it is safe to resume normal activities, and how long the side effects of the surgery are likely to last.

When to Go Back to Work

Realistically, the patient can return to work as soon as she feels physically able to do so. If the job mostly consists of sitting at a computer or very little walking, lifting, or other physical activity, most people could return to work within one week. However, with labor intensive jobs, patients should wait until the body is completely healed, around five to six weeks, as any strenuous physical activity could increase the risk of complications.

Most patients return to work as soon after the procedure as possible. For a more specific return date, the patient should discuss the nature of the job with her doctor.

When to Resume Exercise

Most women return the gym about a month after the surgery, after the breasts have fully settled and the incisions are healed. However, vigorous exercise should not be resumed until six weeks after the surgery. It is usually about this time that discomfort and most swelling has subsided and it no longer hurts to move. However, before returning to vigorous exercise, it is important to take part in less-intensive exercise, such as leisurely walking, to encourage circulation, reduce the risk of blood clots, and avoid weight gain during this critical time.

How Long Side Effects Last

Most patients report that the pain subsides after a week or two, though it may take a few weeks in order for random pains, often called “zingers” to subside. Bruising, too, should go away after a week or two, depending on what measures are taken to prevent and treat it and how gentle the woman is with her implants during this sensitive time. How long it takes for swelling to reduce will also depend on the level of activity, the angle of sleep and what anti-inflammatories are taken during the healing process. If swelling, bruising, and pain are not subsiding within two to three weeks, the patient should consult her doctor.

When to Shower

Most women do not even consider the fact that they may not be able to shower for a couple of days after the surgery. This can be uncomfortable, especially if the patient is used to showering every day. If the patient has a method to cover the incisions and protect the implants from the water, then they can typically shower the next day after surgery. Most patients wait at least two days before getting into the shower just to be safe. When patients do shower, they must prevent the incision from getting hit by a direct stream of water, as this can pull at the incision site. 

To schedule a breast augmentation consultation, contact Crawford Plastic Surgery


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