If you’ve researched breast implant recovery, you know that you might feel groggy and disoriented when you wake up (from the anesthesia), and that you may have drains. You know that post-op, you’ll need rest, and will be on various medications, as prescribed by your doctor. Your breasts may be wrapped up tightly, or in a surgical bra. After a few hours, you’ll be able to have someone take you home.
But as your recovery progresses, there are some things to keep in mind, like these five recovery “surprises.”
1. Discomfort after surgery depends on where the surgeon places the implants.
If your implants are placed on top of the muscle, the pain after surgery should be gone within a day, says Grant Stevens, M.D., F.A.C.S., medical director of Marina Plastic Surgery in Marina del Rey, CA. But if the implants are placed under the muscle, it can take two to three days for the pain to go away (since the surgeon has to lift the muscle up to form the implant pocket). Your surgeon will keep you on pain medication as needed.
2. You might feel engorged.
It surprises women that the discomfort after breast implant surgery is similar to a “let down” or engorgement feeling they have when their milk first comes in after having a baby. “Some women do describe it that way,” Dr. Stevens says. It’s a general feeling of pressure and swelling, and usually goes away within a week or so.
3. The initial bruising and swelling can last a few weeks or a few months.
Most of your swelling (about 80 percent) should go away after the first two weeks. The last 20 percent of the swelling and bruising can take two to four months to completely disappear. In the last stages of bruising, your bruises will fade to yellow.
4. You might feel disappointed at first.
Because recovery does take a while (and the aforementioned swelling and bruising takes weeks to go away), your first impression of your new breasts may be one of “is this really what they look like?” The answer is no—it’s not what the final outcome will look like! It’s not uncommon to feel blue after surgery, and even to second-guess yourself. You’ve probably waited a while for implants (and possibly debated it). So, after surgery, you’re ready for results! But it usually takes a few months before you get a more accurate picture of what your new breasts look like. There is even a name it: Ugly Breasts Syndrome. Your breasts may also look like they are excessively high, or the shape may seem strange. This is just because of the swelling.
5. You may have to relearn good posture.
When you’re recovering from breast implant surgery, it’s normal to want to protect the sore area. You’re not going to strut out of the hospital or surgery center with your chest proudly sticking out! You’ll most likely walk somewhat hunched for a few weeks (it’s as much psychological as physical). But this can cause you to have back and shoulder pain, and it can mess with your posture somewhat. Because you have to get used to having larger breasts, it’s important to focus on good posture, as soon as you can. Follow all of your doctor’s post-op instructions and make sure you get ample rest (and don’t engage in exercise until you are cleared), but start basic deep breathing and posture awareness as soon as you can.