What is Recovery from Breast Augmentation Surgery Like?

Breast augmentation is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures performed worldwide each year.  At Plastic Surgery Specialists, we are one of the busiest breast augmentation practices in the country and have patients come to us from all over the greater San Francisco Bay Area.  We are fortunate to also have patients from neighboring states visit PSS to see our experienced board-certified breast augmentation experts.  One of the most frequent questions that we encounter during initial consultations and during pre-operative appointments is – How painful is the recovery after breast augmentation?  A close second is – How soon can I return to work or exercise after breast augmentation?  In this blog, we will answer these questions and provide the rationale for our 24-hour rapid recovery program. 

When you choose Plastic Surgery Specialists for your breast augmentation, you are choosing expertise and experience that you can trust.  Our three board-certified plastic surgeons have over 75 years of combined breast augmentation experience.  We combine years of expertise with current technology and partner with our anesthesiologists to offer the best breast augmentation experience in Marin County and the greater San Francisco Bay Area. 

When you have elective cosmetic surgery, there will be some discomfort afterward.  At Plastic Surgery Specialists, we use several techniques to improve your comfort and hasten your recovery after breast augmentation.  The 4-5cm incisions in the skin are generally not that painful during the healing process.  Most of the discomfort that patients describe involves soreness of the chest muscles.  The gummy-bear silicone gel breast implants that we use are placed underneath the chest muscle causing stretching of the muscle and soreness during recovery. 

In order to minimize discomfort after surgery we inject the incision site with numbing medicine before making the initial incision. 

During surgery, the anesthesiologist also provides pain and anti-nausea medication through the IV so that you wake up comfortable and without nausea or vomiting.  There is a well-described association between postoperative nausea and breast surgery in young women, so we take the steps necessary to keep your recovery as smooth as possible. 

One of the most important things that we do near the end of surgery is to inject the long-acting numbing medication, Exparel.  This remarkable medication provides pain relief for up to three days after surgery, significantly decreasing the amount of post-operative narcotic pain medication that is required.  Exparel is an added benefit when you get your breast augmentation at Plastic Surgery Specialists.  Many practices charge extra to use this medication – at PSS it is included in the price of your procedure.  We have found Exparel to be so effective that 50-60% of our breast augmentation patients don’t require any post-operative narcotics and the remainder just use a few during the first day or two after surgery.  Using this enhanced recovery after anesthesia pathway we have developed a rapid recovery program for our breast augmentation patients.  In most cases you are back to day-to-day activities within 24 or 48 hours.  It will take longer to resume more vigorous activities such as physical exercise.

After your breast augmentation surgery, you will need some time to heal.  A thin scar capsule forms around the implant during the first few weeks after surgery and can be prone to tearing or bleeding a bit if you resume strenuous physical activity too soon after your procedure.   We prescribe a few strong pain pills in case you experience an episode or two of pain during the healing process.  The best medication for treating the soreness is the muscle relaxing drug Valium.  Because the chest muscles have to stretch out over the implant, muscle soreness is the most common symptom that patients describe in the early recovery process.  Valium helps relax the muscles and allows time for the muscle to stretch into a comfortable position.  Overall, breast augmentation is not a procedure that requires a lot of downtime and many patients can resume routine office work within a few days after surgery.  With more people working from home these days, recovering from breast implant surgery has never been easier. 

When it comes to returning to work or caring for young children, it is important for your surgeon to know what your regular day-to-day looks like.  If you work at a desk in an office and most of your day is spent on the phone or typing at a computer, you may feel comfortable returning to work in just a few days.  If your work requirements demand more physical activity, especially heavy lifting or working with your arms above your shoulders for prolonged periods, you will want to take a week or two off before returning to your job.  If you have young children at home and still need to do Mom things like lifting them or carrying them, you will want to have some help around the house for the first week or two after surgery.

Returning to your regular fitness routine after breast augmentation requires a bit of patience. 

You only get one good chance to heal properly after surgery, so we encourage you to take it easy when returning to exercise.  Your ability to resume physical activity will depend on what you like to do for exercise.  Most people are able to go out and walk around the block to get a bit of fresh air and stretch your legs the day after surgery.  Walking at a brisker pace for exercise can generally be started 5-7 days after surgery.  One little warning is to let someone else walk the dog.  If your furry friend takes off after a squirrel or chases something you don’t want to be holding the leash and have your fresh surgery potentially damaged by a sudden surge.  Non-impact activities like riding a stationary bike can usually be resumed 10-14 days after surgery and light jogging at 4-6 weeks after surgery.  For sports that use the upper body to a greater degree, we usually recommend 6-8 weeks of recovery before going back.  If you play tennis, surf, do CrossFit, or golf, your surgeon can help guide you back based on your individual progress through the stages of recovery.  Lower body and core workouts can generally be started 4-6 weeks after surgery while upper body workouts, including yoga, can resume anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks after surgery depending on how your recovery is progressing.

Why Choose Us?

So now that you have your questions answered and are ready to proceed with your breast augmentation, why should you choose Plastic Surgery Specialists?  To start, Plastic Surgery Specialists is one of the oldest and most recognized plastic surgery practices in Marin County and the greater San Francisco Bay Area.  Our three board-certified plastic surgeons have over 75 years of combined experience and have performed thousands of breast augmentations.  We perform surgery in our fully accredited outpatient surgical center and employ only board-certified anesthesiologists to ensure that your safety is always at the forefront.  As an established practice, we have the balance of current technology and tons of experience.  We use our Vectra 3D imaging system to simulate results of your surgery and help you choose the right implant size and profile to fit your body. We will partner with you to develop a treatment plan that is customized to your individual features, cosmetic goals, budget, and recovery timeline to give you the best breast augmentation in San Francisco, Oakland, Napa, or Sonoma.  We have convenient financing plans and offer virtual consultations to make connecting with us and getting your breast augmentation easier than ever.

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