Recovery after Breast Augmentation

Q :  I am interested in getting breast implants. I have been saving for years and am so excited to be close to actually getting it done. One worry I have is about the time to recover.  I can’t be out of work too long. I have read from some doctor’s advertisements that it can be done with no recovery whatsoever. Is that true? How can that be possible since it is surgery?

A: Breast augmentation is definitely real surgery. While it is a cosmetic operation, it does involve lifting up your main chest muscle (pectoralis) to insert the implant underneath it. Lifting up any muscle in the body is not pain-free and does involve some recovery.

There has been a general change amongst many plastic surgeons over the past decade about what to do after breast implant surgery. In the past, there was the belief that restricting any motion of the arms and chest muscles improves healing around the implant and helps control discomfort. There has been a 180 degree change in recovery philosophy with the recognition that the fastest way to recover from a ‘pulled muscle’ is to use it rather than restrict it.

As a result, contemporary recovery techniques after breast augmentation use an aggressive physical therapy approach. Early and frequent arm range of motion and a ‘get up and go’ approach is now used. Pain medications are either not used or restricted and one begins immediate use of non-narcotic anti-inflammatory medications. From a marketing standpoint, these have become known as ‘no recovery’, ‘rapid recovery’ or ‘easy aug’ breast augmentation methods. Suggesting that there is no recovery is a bit overstated but it is certainly much easier than it used to be.

It is certainly possible today to be sufficiently recovered after breast implants to be back at a non-physical job within a few days. A heavier labor position may take a one week or two to have sufficient recovery to work unrestricted and relatively pain-free.

Dr. Barry Eppley