Breast Augmentation Recovery – What to expect

The breast augmentation recovery process is relatively short, with most people feeling back to their normal selves within a few days. There will, however, be limits on upper body activity for several weeks afterward.

The amount of downtime required, and the amount of time needed to make a full recovery that allows you to resume all normal activity, will vary depending on where the incision was placed, the size of the implant, and whether the breast implant was placed above or below the pectoral muscle.

When you first wake up

After your surgery has been completed you will be taken to a recover area where you will be closely monitored while you slowly wake up. Don’t expect to be fully awake right away — it may take a while and you may doze off for a bit. It usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour to recover completely from general anesthesia. In some cases, this period may be a bit longer depending on medications given during or after surgery.

Upon walking up from any surgery, most people tend to be very groggy and will find it hard to keep their eyes open. You can also expect to have chills and maybe feel nauseous. This is all from the anesthetic

You will also feel a great deal of pressure on your chest. It may feel as though an elephant is sitting on your chest. If the implants have been placed beneath the muscle, is also common to feel as though you have done a thousand push-ups. This is due to the stretching of the chest muscles. This results in a very sore chest, and you will notice discomfort in your chest each and every time you use your pectoral muscles.

First 24 Hours

In the first 24 -48 hours following surgery are generally the most uncomfortable, you will most likely experience moderate pain, which can be treated with prescription pain medication. You may experience a combination of side effects including soreness, tightness, numbness, tingling, itching, swelling and bruising.

It’s also common to feel quite nauseous soon. Anesthesia can really wreak havoc on your stomach and the pain medication you are taking after surgery can also upset you stomach. If you are feeling nauseous, tell your nurse or surgeon so they can give you something to help alleviate it.

You will be required to restrict all physical activity during this period and instructed to avoid nicotine, alcohol and blood-thinning medications such as aspirin.

Beyond the First 24 Hours

Recovery from breast augmentation surgery is different for everyone. You may have a very easy time of it, while a friend may experience more difficulty. The list below goes over the most common things associated with recovery. You may only have one or two things on the list (aside from pain/discomfort), or you may have several.

Keep in mind, many of the experiences, such as tiredness, constipation, and fluid retention, can occur after ANY type of surgery.

Pain: If the implants are placed beneath the muscle, expect to have very sore chest muscles and a lot of pressure on your chest. If the implants are placed over the muscle, expect have some soreness and pressure, but no sore muscles.

Numbness: It’s likely you’ll have some numbness following your surgery. This is normal and to be expected. Normal sensation should return over time. This can take weeks or months. It is impossible to predict.

Feelings of Engorgement: If you have had children, you know exactly what engorgement feels like. If you haven’t, here is an explanation: A few days after giving birth, your milk begins to come in. If you do not breastfeed, or if your baby isn’t feeding enough, your breasts will swell. They will become warm, tender, and painful. You’ll also feel great pressure on your breasts, and they may feel very heavy. Many women experience this same feeling after breast augmentation surgery, but it usually goes away within one week.

Stiffness/Tightness in the Morning: You may notice that you feel extra stiff in the morning. This is normal, and it dissipates once you get up and start moving around. The morning stiffness can persist for several weeks, but it is increasingly manageable with each passing day.

Post-op Depression or Post-op “Blues”: With any type of surgery, post-op depression is possible, and is not uncommon. Depression is attributable to pain, anesthesia, narcotics/pain medications, and various other things. Lack of sleep can exacerbate these emotions.

Many women who experience post-op blues/depression after surgery have said that they did question if they made the right decision. Some of this doubt stems from not getting instant gratification. Sometimes the breast implants appear really high on the chest, or have a torpedo-like look, which is alarming to those who aren’t prepared for this. The good news is that your breasts will change; it just takes a little time and a lot of patience.

Bruising and Swelling: Bruising and swelling are common after most major surgeries, and you’ll most likely experience both of them. Be aware: the bruising can also move downward instead of just disappearing. Your cleavage area will also swell, which will feel mushy or spongy.

Bloating/Fluid Retention: Chances are you will bloat, especially in the stomach. This is normal and will dissipate on its own under normal circumstances, and usually doesn’t require diuretics (do not take diuretics without your surgeon’s approval).

Muscle Spasms: Spasms are common in women with breast implants placed under the muscle. Some surgeons prescribe muscle relaxants to help with this.

Back Pain: After breast augmentation surgery, it’s normal to walk with your shoulders hunched forward, as if you’re trying to protect your chest. Bear in mind that maintaining improper posture causes backaches. Remember, you will most likely not sleep in your normal position, so this change can further aggravate you. Also, when you get up from bed or change positions, you will use other muscles to compensate for your chest muscles, which can make you sore.

Itching Skin on Breasts: Your breasts may itch after surgery. The itching is due to the skin being stretched so much at one time.

Hard/Lumpy Incisions: It’s not uncommon for your incision to feel hard or lumpy at some point during recovery. This is mainly because of scar tissue buildup. The best advice, (which usually works for everyone), is to massage the incision, which helps break up some of that scar tissue. However, make sure your incisions are completely closed before you put your fingers on them. You don’t want to introduce any bacteria to the incision.

UBS (“Ugly Breasts Syndrome”): You’ve finally had your surgery, and the results you’re seeing aren’t what you paid for. “Ugly Breast Syndrome” is a phenomenon that happens to many women who have breast augmentation surgery. Most women aren’t going to have gorgeous breasts as soon as they roll out of the operating room. They may appear oblong in shape, or torpedo-like, or they may even look swollen, broad, and flat. The implants may ride high, and look like they are right up against your collar bone in the beginning. They may be bruised and swollen, or your nipples may be puffy and swollen. The good news is that things will get better, given some time and patience.

Sharp/Stabbing Pains: These are sometimes known as “zingers,” and are very common. These pains usually indicate nerve regeneration. So while they aren’t the most pleasant things you’ll experience, keep in mind that nerve regeneration is a good thing. Also remember that the further you are post-op, the less intense this feeling becomes. The pains are very short-lived. However, if you are worried about a particular type of pain you’re having, consult with your surgeon. At the very least, they can offer you peace of mind. At the most, they can take care of any new issues.

Lack of Energy: Surgery is a shock to the body, so it requires energy to heal. You will not have the endurance you normally have, at least not for a few weeks. You’ll notice that you tire much quicker. Listen to your body. If you are tired, rest (most surgeons don’t recommend complete bed rest, as you need to get up and move around to keep from becoming sore). Also, keep in mind that not moving around can cause blood clots, which can travel from the legs to the lungs or brain, and are fatal.


Remember that everyone recovery differs from patient to patient, this its critical to follow your surgeons post op instructions and get in contact with them if you have any questions or concerns.