What’s breast implant surgery recovery like?
What is the best way to recover from breast augmentation?
There’s a pneumonic that doctors use to guide patients who have strains and sprains RICE. IT stands for REST, ICE, COMPRESSION, ELEVATION. These are the same principles that are helpful for recovery from any process that creates inflammation in the body, including surgery.
REST — there’s no need to avoid moving your arms, and in fact it helps prevent you from being stiff, but you should move comfortably and slowly and avoid lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk with your upper body for at least 2-4 weeks after surgery. Over activity can lead to bleeding , implant displacement, and an increased risk of capsular contracture in the long term.
ICE — cold compresses over the top of the breasts will help minimize discomfort and swelling. Make sure to keep a cloth between your skin and the cold to prevent injury since you may not have totally normal sensation in the area
COMPRESSION — Wearing a surgical bra will help stabilize the implants and minimize swelling. There are a few surgeons that do not routinely use compressive garments after surgery, but most do, and most patients are much more comfortable wearing a very supportive full coverage surgical or sports bra for the first 2-3 weeks after surgery
ELEVATION — When implants are placed (especially large ones) they can feel like they are in your throat for the first week or two. Keeping the head of your bed elevated on a couple blocks or resting on pillows or in a recliner will help minimize swelling and reduce this sensation.
What can you do and not do:
DO: Lift arms as high as you are comfortable and move them around as you are able (washing your face, combing your hair, getting a glass out of the cabinet for yourself etc). Walk around at a comfortable pace even the night of surgery.
I am very active, will I be able to continue an active lifestyle? If so, how long do I have to wait to run, lift weights etc?
2 weeks for intense cardio (anything that will make you short of breath or make your heart race), 1-2 months for weight training and intense activity with the upper body like pushups.
DON’T: Perform a lot of repetitive motions involving your arms (emptying dishwasher, vacuuming), lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk (you can lift children by hugging them close to you then standing up but not by reaching out your arms),
eat or drink foods that can increase bleeding in the first week or two (including alcohol and hot foods
…alcohol affects clotting and anything that increases blood pressure or heart rate can dislodge clots from blood vessels and cause bleeding).
Don’t’ smoke, use nicotine replacements or electronic cigarettes.. Nicotine affects circulation in the skin for 6 hours after even one puff of a cigarette which can increase risk of infection and lead to poor scarring.
Buying new bras: Implants will settle and reshape the lower part of the breast for at least 3 and sometimes up to 6 months after surgery. Hold off on buying a lot of expensive bras until your surgeon lets you know it’s ok. Don’t wear any underwire until the implants have settled fully and your incisions are completely healed.
Most people don’t need special vitamins to heal properly, but there are a vitamins that are important to healing and can be supplemented for a few weeks after surgery, especially if you feel your diet is limited for any reason. Vitamin C and zinc can be used for 2 weeks after surgery (just follow the doses on the bottle at the drug store). Also, make sure to get plenty of protein. It’s a bad time to go on a diet when you’re trying to heal.
Finally, a lot of my patients take Arnica with Bromalain for a few days before and after surgery. This is an herbal supplement that minimizes bruising and inflammation. There is generally no bruising after augmentation, but it can minimize swelling.