Breast implant surgery is usually a relatively simple outpatient procedure — you'll likely be sent home the very same day, unless you have complications with your surgery. But that don't expect that you'll be ready for your regular routine within a day or two. Because breast augmentation impacts the torso and the muscles around your chest wall, you'll likely require a few weeks of assistance from friends and family. Here's what to expect in your first post-operative weeks, and what kind of help you might need.
The First 24 Hours After Breast Augmentation
You'll likely still be out of sorts from the anesthesia, and in pain from the surgery. You'll need a friend or family member to bring you home (hospitals and doctors will not let you leave without a caretaker with you). A loved one will need to stay with you, make sure you take your medications — you'll be on both antibiotics to prevent infections, and serious painkillers — and fix you meals while you rest.
In most cases, your doctors will tell you to ice your breasts — that will help to numb the pain and prevent inflammation and bruising.
When you rest, you'll need to sleep on your back, with your torso elevated, for the first week or two. You'll likely also be wearing a supportive bra 24/7 to help support your breasts and give them a chance to heal.
Your temperature will need to be monitored as well — if you develop a fever, that warrants a call to the doctor, as that may indicate an infection or other complication from your breast augmentation.
The First Week After Breast Augmentation
The pain may be dissipating as you enter your first week of recovery, but your breasts will likely still be extremely sensitive to touch, and your skin may feel warm or itchy. You'll need to avoid alcohol or aspirin for the first few weeks — both can thin your blood, making bruising and bleeding around the breast implants more likely.
Your doctor may have inserted drains into the surgical sites to prevent fluid buildup. You will need to take care of these as she instructs until they are removed (usually a few days to a week into your recovery).
You will not be allowed to raise your hands above chest level, so you won't be able to wash your own hair; and you won't be able to shower until the sutures are removed, about a week after surgery. A friend may be able to help you bathe without getting your incisions wet.
Heavy lifting is also prohibited for the first few post-operative weeks — that includes holding pets or children. You'll need to make sure that someone is available to manage anything that needs to be lugged or toted around (like a big basket of laundry).
You will still need to sleep on your back until day 10 to prevent complications from your surgery.
And while bear hugs from your family are great, you'll need to remind everyone to be gentle with you, especially around your chest — sudden blows to your breast implants could cause significant bleeding.
Your breasts may not look as you expected — there is likely to be some major bruising and the breast implants may make them seem too firm and too high up on your body. But after a few weeks, the breast implants will settle into a more natural position on your body.
At this point in your recovery, you should be able to begin returning to your regular routine, minus strenuous exercise or high-impact activities that can jostle you, such as riding amusement park rides or horseback riding.
A Few Weeks After Breast Augmentation
By this point, you should be almost back to your regular routine. Your doctor may recommend waiting another few weeks before going back to the most strenuous workouts and sports, but odds are you'll be ready for more low-key forms of exercise, and to begin lifting objects.
Your breast implants may still look a bit high on your body, but should continue to move and settle over the next few months toward a more natural look. Your incision scars should also be starting to heal. You can start to apply skin smoothing creams, special bandages or silicone sheeting. Your plastic surgeon should be able to provide treatment suggestions that can help reduce the appearance of the surgical scars.