Enhancing one’s bust size through breast implants today is easier than ever before!….That is certainly the marketing hype and there is a lot of truth to it. But to call the recovery after breast augmentation as….no recovery….or painless… as some advertisements suggest does not quite convey an accurate picture. All surgery induces some pain, swelling, and bruising. Breast augmentation is no different.
Breast augmentation is most commonly done today by placing the implant under your big chest muscle known as the pectoralis. (although there is a recent trend back to above the muscle for some plastic surgeons as silicone gel implants have become available again) By putting the breast implant under the muscle, it is stretched, bruised, and even some fibers are cut. This makes the muscle sore, swollen and difficult to stretch. This also makes the upper arm hard to lift up very far. In essence, breast augmentation makes the muscle stiff and sore. It is not the incision that causes any discomfort, it is the muscle.
While breast augmentation can not be completely pain and recovery free, rebounding from the surgery and getting back to normal activities definitely can be accelerated. This is made possible by doing something to the muscle after surgery…early and aggressive physical therapy. Breast augmentation physical therapy starts the night of surgery and consists of range of motion exercises of the arm. By early stretching of the arm in circles and by raising the arm from one’s side to the level of the shoulder and above, the pectoralis muscle is mobilized. Stretching helps loosen up the injured muscle fibers and prevent restrictive scar formation. The more you move, the quicker you will recover. Just like pulling a leg muscle, the earlier you begin to stretch and use it the quicker you will get over it.
This form of pectoralis physical therapy, combined with anti-inflammatory drugs such as Alleve and Ibuprofen, allows one to get moving very early. While swelling, a little bruising, and some pain can be expected, early physical therapy can lessen its effects to just a few days. Even in the worst-case scenario, one should have a significant recovery by one week after surgery.
One other helpful recovery aid I use in my Indianapolis plastic surgery practice is the ActiPatch anti-inflammtory device. This is a small battery-operated battery device that emits pulsed electromagnetic fields that penetrate the breast tissue and help reduce swelling and inflammation. I have started my patients wearing it for the first 36 hours after surgery. It is easy to wear it inside one’s bra as the loop fits over much of the breast mound.
Rapid recovery breast augmentation is a reality through a combination of early physical therapy, anyi-inflammatory medications, and the ActiPatch device. Significant recovery should now be a matter of days not weeks.
Dr. Barry Eppley