Breast Augmentation Recovery: The First Two Months

Deciding to undergo breast augmentation is exciting. This less-than-an-hour surgery gives you an immediate change with results that can last a long time.  Once you make the decision to move ahead your mind will at some point start to wonder about the recovery process. How much pain will I have? How long will I be down and out? How do I prepare? What are my limitations? When can I return to work? When can I work out? Even though the first few days are challenging, the overall recovery is very doable.  With the right preparation and care, you can speed through the hard parts and get back to baseline in no time. Therefore, to help you prepare and plan, we put together our guide to breast augmentation recovery.  It focuses on the pivotal first two months after surgery which have the most restrictions. Using this as a resource during recovery, will help you get through the hard parts, including working through the unique limitations that you have with this surgery.  

The first week is manageable but a little intense 

After surgery, plan to take up to a week off from non physical work duties and make arrangements for help around the house. There will be some difficult but manageable moments of discomfort, especially within the first few days after surgery.  Feeling tired and sore is normal. Swelling is expected, especially right after surgery.  So don’t be alarmed if your breasts look a bit large and distorted. Here is what you should expect: 

  • Your breasts will feel tender and “achy”
  • Your chest muscles and incisions will feel the most painful
  • Your nipples often feel more sensitive
  • Your breasts may look uneven, swollen, and/or very high on your chest

During this early healing phase, you’ll need some assistance around the house for tasks like:

  • Laundry and vacuuming 
  • Dog walking and waste cleanup
  • Reaching for objects
  • Childcare and driving

You will use “T-rex” or “crocodile” arms during this first week.  In other words, you will always keep your elbows close to your body.  This keeps you from engaging your chest muscles, which is not great for healing. And that movement can be painful! As your range of motion will be limited, keep necessary items within easy and short reach.  Plan this out beforehand. We also want you to concentrate on ambulating and gentle movements, especially slow walking to stimulate your circulation.  This promotes healing and reduces swelling and stiffness. Implant massage is usually not recommended in the first few weeks after surgery.  Massaging your implant is helpful, but it is important to ensure that the incisions are somewhat healed before applying pressure to your chest. This usually starts about 2-3 weeks after surgery. Here are a few other tips for the first week:

  • Avoid overactivity and sleep slightly inclined by adding an extra pillow
  • Make it a goal to switch to over-the-counter pain medication ASAP
  • Wearing a stretchy supportive bra 24/7 is beneficial 
  • Muscle relaxants are very helpful especially if your implants are under the muscle

During weeks 2 to 4, you should start feeling better 

You should feel much more like yourself around week 2, especially when it comes to pain, achiness, and baseline discomfort.  If you have a nonphysical job, you can return to in-person work. For more physical work duties, consider taking at least 2 or more weeks off to prioritize healing. During weeks 2 to 4, you can independently manage most light daily tasks like showering, self-care, dishes, cooking, etc. You will also be able to drive as long as you are off all prescription pain medications and muscle relaxants for 48 hours. Your breast appearance will change as your implants settle into place.  Remember, there will still be moderate swelling during this time and you should expect that your breasts will be around 20%-30% larger than the final results due to this swelling. It can take up to 3-6 months for the swelling to fully resolve. Staying on top of pain management with over-the-counter pain medication and keeping up with gentle walks is key.  Here is what you should expect around this time:

  • Your chest will feel less tender and your breasts will feel more supple 
  • Your breasts will begin to look less swollen and bruised 
  • Nipple sensation will start to slowly return to normal
  • Your incisions may look redder and raised while healing

As your energy returns, ease back into non-strenuous routines at your own pace. You can likely drive, have sex, and go out to eat, depending on how you feel. Yet still refrain from vigorous activity that stress or compress your chest. These activities include:

  • Strength training of the upper body and arms
  • ROM exercises like Yoga and Pilates 
  • Intense housework: washing windows, moving furniture, deep cleaning 

It is around this time that you will start scar care and implant massage, as recommended by our care team. Also, it is important to report any unusual symptoms like redness, new onset swelling, and notable pain to our office. This may be a sign that you need to be evaluated sooner rather than later.  Here are some helpful expectations during this time of recovery that you can use to plan ahead:

  • It is reasonable to plan on returning to work within 2 weeks but with some physical restrictions 
  • You should be able to drive yourself and take on the primary responsibilities of child care if your pain is controlled with over-the-counter pain meds
  • Depending on your progress, you will start light implant massage around this time to ensure your implant pocket stays soft and supple
  • You will likely be cleared for limited lower body exercises as long as you keep your heart rate and blood pressure low and can do so without any pain 

You are on the home stretch during weeks 4-8

Although you will feel much more like your self after the first month, you will not be at your baseline. This is the ramp-up time and it is important to listen to your body.  If an activity causes you pain, stop what you are doing and adjust. Focus on increasing your movements without overdoing it. Remember, you are still healing internally, even if everything looks good on the outside. So patience and care are still important. This is what you should expect and plan for:

  • You will continue to increase your activity and start to return to your normal exercise routine 
  • It is important continue implant massage daily, per your doctor’s direction, to keep the implant pocket loose and mobile
  • It is unlikely that you will be able to fully return to activities that stress your chest, especially if the implant was placed under the muscle.  This may take months to return to normal

Nearing the end of the second month, your breasts should be finding their final shape and feel. Residual soreness and tightness should be very limited but it can surprisingly return at time over the next few months. At this point, you should be able to return to your full active lifestyle, including:

  • All exercises and sports, including weight training 
  • Non-restricted movements, especially of the arms
  • Unhindered intimacy or chest straining activities

Preparation is key to the best recovery

It is only natural to wonder about recovery from breast augmentation, especially when planning for the first few months. Use this guide as a useful resource during your recovery journey.  Refer to it when planning for your surgery and periodically glance at it afterwards to make sure you are on track.  Before you know it, you will have 2 months under your belt and you will be enjoying your new and improved post-surgery self. Now start preparing!