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What to expect after breast enhancement surgery

Breast augmentation surgery at Benenden Hospital

We’ve put together a timeline for your breast augmentation surgery recovery from the moment you awake from your anaesthetic to the months following your operation. Read on to find out what different surgical techniques our Consultants will use and what to expect from your scarring.

What are the different surgical techniques?

Breast augmentation, also known as a ‘boob job’ or breast enlargement, can be performed surgically in a couple of different ways, with variations in implant placement to consider:

Over your muscle/under the gland

This is the simplest technique for breast augmentation surgery and is less likely to cause significant discomfort.

Under your muscle

Your breast implants are inserted behind your chest muscle (pectoralis major), which provides more padding or covering for your implant. If you’re slimmer or have minimal breast tissue, it can reduce the chances of being able to see or feel the implant. However, the implants are likely to move with muscle movement which is called “animation deformity”.

Partly behind your breast and chest muscle

Dual plane combines the two above techniques to achieve a more natural ‘take off’ while still having fullness.

Our cosmetics team will advise you of their recommended technique to achieve the best possible outcome for your breast augmentation.

What is the timeline for recovery?

Immediately after surgery

Breast augmentation surgery usually takes about an hour and a half and is carried out under general anaesthesia which means you’ll be asleep. The incision will be closed using dissolving stitches and a small dressing or tape will be applied over the top.

You will wake up in the recovery unit of our theatre department where our team will monitor you until you’re comfortable and stable enough to return to your room. You will then be transferred to your private room in one of our wards. You may wake feeling groggy with some discomfort in your breasts. If you’re in pain, please inform the nurses so they can support you with the appropriate pain relief.

Returning home

If you’re returning home the same day, you can usually return after several hours. You’ll need someone to drive you home whether you stayed overnight or not. Before you’re discharged, your breasts will be further supported by a post-operative surgical bra which you’ll need to wear for around six weeks.

Recovering at home

During the first three to five days post-surgery, you’re likely to experience the most discomfort. It is important to keep taking your prescribed painkillers to relieve some of these symptoms. If you experience any bleeding, severe discomfort or one breast swells substantially more than the other, please contact our hospital. We may request to see you for a wound check.

You will be advised to take some time off work, ideally one to two weeks depending on your job. Strenuous physical activity should be avoided for the first six weeks.

Below are a few simple ways you can help to aid your recovery at home:

  • Wear your postoperative surgical compression bra for the recommended six weeks. Most patients have two bras – one to wear and one to wash
  • Stay hydrated to aid your recovery, reduce swelling and to avoid constipation which can be common after surgery. Avoid alcohol for 24 hours as instructed by your Consultant
  • You may shower 48 hours after your surgery and gently pat the tape dressing dry before putting your bra back on
  • Your Consultant Plastic Surgeon will advise you when you can start driving again. However, before you do so, make sure you’re safe and able to do an emergency stop and avoidance manoeuvre and it may be worth checking with your insurance company. You’re not allowed to drive whilst taking opiate based pain medication such as Codeine.
  • Sleeping on your back and in a slightly elevated position with a few pillows is the ideal sleeping position for post breast augmentation surgery. This can really help to reduce swelling and help ensure your implant remains in the optimum position for healing

One week post operation

You'll have a wound check appointment one to two weeks post-op and further follow ups with your Consultant to check your recovery. As you approach one week, your pain should be minimal and only over-the-counter pain medications will be required, if any. The pain should be minimal after the first week. Following your Surgeon’s advice, you can normally begin returning to light daily activities.

Typically, you can return to work after one to two weeks but should minimise your activity, including any exercise and strenuous activity as well as avoiding immersing the wound in water until it is fully healed.

Up to a month after your surgery

After a month of recovery, it’s normal to have some swelling and soreness but this should slowly get better. If you have a physically demanding job, you won’t be able to return to work on normal duties after one week; you’ll have to work with light duties for three or more weeks.

Our cosmetic surgery team will likely advise you to avoid exercising for a minimum of four weeks post-surgery and to avoid any heavy lifting for at least six weeks. Again, this is to avoid straining to allow the implant to settle in the optimum position and minimise the risk of a post-operative bleed.

Two months post-surgery

At this point in your recovery journey, your breasts should be healing well, and during your post-operative check-ins our Consultants will let you know if you can return to physical activity.

It is important to have realistic expectations after breast augmentation surgery. At six weeks, you’ll have a general idea of what the end result could look like for your breasts. However, they will continue to swell for up to three months and minor changes can occur for one year post operation.

Do patients scar after breast augmentation surgery?

When using the IMF for implant insertion, the scar ranges from four to six centimetres in length. However, scars can heal differently depending on the patient. Factors such as skin type, genetics, medical conditions and wound complications can affect your final scarring outcome.

The normal healing process of a scar takes time and it can take up to 18 months for a scar to heal and fade. It’s important to know that your surgical scars will never fade completely.

Considering breast augmentation surgery?

If you want to improve your self-confidence with a breast augmentation, our dedicated specialised cosmetic nurses will help you prepare for your breast augmentation surgery and will see you after your procedure. They're available for any questions that you might have.

We maintain a rigorous and methodical approach to cleanliness, infection prevention and control. We have one of the best records amongst UK hospitals for avoiding healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs), including an impeccable record of zero incidences of MRSA.

Our leading Cosmetic and Plastic Surgeons have many years of experience and are members of esteemed professional bodies including The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) and The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS). Using the latest techniques and treatments, we can help you to achieve your desired outcomes.

Book a consultation today by completing our online booking form or by contacting our Private Patient Team via Livechat or on 01580 363158.

Published on 16 August 2023