Breast augmentation is a surgery that increases the size of a person’s breasts. It’s also known as augmentation mammoplasty.
In most surgeries, implants are used to enhance breast size. Fat from another part of the body can also be used, but this method is less common.
People typically get this surgery to:
- enhance physical appearance
- reconstruct the breast after a mastectomy or another breast surgery
- adjust uneven breasts due to surgery or another condition
- increase breast size after pregnancy or breastfeeding
People seeking male-to-female or male-to-nonbinary top surgery might also get breast augmentation.
Generally, recovery takes about 6 to 8 weeks. It may take more time depending on how you heal and your overall health. Every person is different, so it’s best to talk to a surgeon if you’re concerned about the recovery process.
Read on to learn about what you can expect during breast augmentation recovery.
In most cases, recovery lasts about 6 to 8 weeks. Here’s what the timeline may look like:
Immediately after surgery
Most breast augmentation surgeries involve general anesthesia. This means you’re asleep during the procedure.
Once the surgery is done, you’ll be transferred to a recovery room. You’ll slowly wake up as a team of medical professionals monitors you. You’ll likely feel achy and groggy.
If the implants were placed under the pectoralis muscle, you may experience tightness or muscle aches in the area. As the muscles stretches and relaxes, the pain will decrease.
Hours after surgery
After a few hours, you’ll feel less sore and sleepy.
You can usually go home after several hours, but you’ll need someone to drive you.
Before you leave, your surgeon will wrap your breasts with a bra or elastic band. This will support your breasts during recovery. Your surgeon will also explain how to care for your incision sites.
3 to 5 days
During the first 3 to 5 days, you’ll likely experience the most discomfort. Your doctor will have prescribed medication to help control the pain.
You might have minor bleeding at the incision sites. This is normal. But if you’re concerned about any bleeding, talk to your surgeon.
As you approach 1 week, you may be able to manage the pain with over-the-counter pain medications.
The pain should be minimal after the first week.
With your surgeon’s approval, you can gradually return to light daily activities.
Next few weeks
During this time, you’ll still have some soreness and swelling. But it should slowly get better.
If you have a physically demanding job, you’ll need to be out of work for 3 weeks or more. You’ll also need to avoid heavy lifting and intense physical activities, like running.
After about 2 months, you should be nearing full recovery, though this depends on how well your body heals.
Your doctor will let you know if you can resume normal activities.
As with all types of surgery, breast augmentation poses potential complications.
General surgery complications include scarring, wound infections, and bleeding problems, like blood loss. It’s also possible to go into shock or develop issues related to blood clots.
Anesthesia can also trigger an allergic reaction, but this is rare.
Complications specific to breast augmentation include:
- scarring that changes the breast shape
- asymmetrical breasts
- breast pain
- breast numbness
- undesired or poor cosmetic results
- nipple changes in appearance
- breast or nipple sensation changes
- breast cellulitis
- breasts appear to merge (symmastia)
- incorrect position of implant
- implant is seen or felt through the skin
- skin wrinkling over the implant
- fluid accumulation (seroma)
- scarring around the implant (capsular contracture)
- implant leak or break
- breastfeeding problems
- breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma
- breast implant illness
To heal some of these complications, you may need surgery to replace or remove the implants.
On average, breast implants last about 10 years before the shell ruptures or leaks. You’ll eventually need surgery to replace or remove them.
There are two main kinds of breast augmentation:
- Cosmetic breast implants. A silicone or saline implant is inserted behind the breast tissue or below the pectoralis, or pushup, muscle.
- Reconstructive surgery. If your breasts were removed in another surgery, breast implants or fat tissue from another part of the body can be used to rebuild them.
Breast augmentation can be combined with a breast lift, or mastopexy. This surgery changes the shape of your breasts, but it doesn’t alter the size.
Successful breast augmentation depends on how well you heal. To increase the chances of a smooth recovery, you can:
- Wear recovery bras. Follow your doctor’s instructions. Recovery bras provide support and manage pain and swelling.
- Care for your incisions. Depending on your surgeon’s preference, you may have to wear a bandage or apply ointment. Always follow the directions.
- Take your medication. During the first week, pain medication will help you feel more comfortable. If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take the entire course.
- Prepare your home before surgery. Before the procedure, finish any housework and meal prep. You’ll need to rest when you’re back home in recovery.
- Wear loose clothes. Loose-fitting, breathable clothes will help you feel more comfortable.
- Avoid intense activity. Strenuous movement can delay the healing process.
- Eat nutritious foods. A healthy diet will help your body recover. Consume lots of lean protein, fruits, and vegetables.
The most important part of preparing for breast augmentation is choosing the right surgeon. This ensures your safety and overall success of the surgery.
When selecting a surgeon, look for:
- Board certification. Pick a plastic surgeon who’s certified by a board under the American Board of Medical Specialties, or more specifically, the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The surgeon should specialize in breast augmentation.
- Cost. Be cautious of extremely inexpensive options. While budget and cost certainly matter, it’s best to prioritize your safety and comfort.
- Patient results. Read testimonials from people who’ve had the procedure. Look at before and after photos.
- Customer service. Take note of how the surgeon and staff make you feel during the consultation.
Visit the American Society of Plastic Surgeons website to find a board-certified plastic surgeon near you.
Breast augmentation recovery usually takes 6 to 8 weeks. It might be longer if you develop complications, like an infection or implant leak.
To ensure a smooth recovery, follow your surgeon’s instructions. Wear the recovery bra, and care for your incision sites as directed. Be sure to get plenty of rest and eat a healthy diet. In about 8 weeks, you should be fully recovered and ready to resume normal activities.