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Recovery from Breast Implant Surgery: What to Expect

Plastic Surgery in Charleston, SCWhen considering breast augmentation surgery and breast implants, our clients often ask practical questions, like:

  • How much time off work does breast implant recovery require?
  • Will I be able to take care of my children afterwards?
  • What about possible side-effects of oral narcotic medications that may be prescribed to manage pain?
  • What can I expect in terms of scarring, and when do scars begin to fade?
  • About how long will it take to see the final results of my breast implant surgery?

Breast implant surgery is performed in our accredited ambulatory surgery facility under IV sedation. A small incision is made, usually at the inframammary breast fold, the place beneath the breast where the breast and the chest meet. A pocket is made either over or under the pectoral muscle, the breast implant is inserted into the pocket and the incision is closed. The procedure takes about an hour to an hour and a half.

The recovery period from breast implant surgery can vary widely depending on the procedure you had, how well you follow postoperative instructions, and how quickly you heal naturally. Following your surgery, you will be given a prescription for pain medication and can return to normal activities within a few days.

Some patients have concerns about side-effects related to the standard oral narcotic medications prescribed during the breast implant recovery period. Dr. Widenhouse takes proactive measures to help clients manage their pain in other ways, including through the use of muscle relaxants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs), arnica and bromelain (natural alternatives shown to block pain and reduce swelling). He uses antibiotic solution and additional numbing medication in the implant pocket during the surgery. These measures are extremely effective in reducing immediate pain following surgery, and a majority of patients are able to transition to non-narcotic pain medications within 24-48 hours following surgery. We often hear from our clients that recovery was much easier than they expected.

Initially, your breasts may be swollen, making them appear larger than you desired. Breast implants are also initially placed high on the chest so that they can settle into place naturally. If you have small children, for the first 4-5 days after surgery you may need help lifting them, doing more strenuous housework or any physical work on the job. Those with desk jobs may return to work during that first week, and can resume driving.

Returning to activities that elevate your heart rate and blood pressure is possible at the 2 week point after surgery. Power walking, treadmill and other exercise that does not involve the upper body may be resumed. Taking a break from strenuous exercise for the first 2-3 weeks helps prevent additional swelling or the collection of fluid during your recovery.

After the first month, push ups and weight lifting may be resumed. At this time you will notice your breasts starting to settle into their more final position as scar tissues relax and swelling subsides completely for most clients. Breasts will become softer, develop more natural movement, and most clients feel they are “part of them” as they stabilize. Keep in mind though that your body is never completely “stable” and always changing. You will continue to experience changes in the way your breasts look, especially if you experience subsequent pregnancies, weight gain, and/or menopause.

By 3-6 months the scar will be very close to the final result, improving for up to a year after your breast implant surgery. Your final results will be apparent about six months after the surgery.

Get more of your questions about Breast Implants answered! Read our previous posts about:

See our Before and After Breast Augmentation Gallery, read Testimonials from our satisfied clients and come in and try out our Mentor Volume Sizing System to help envision your results.

Schedule a consultation with Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Brian G. Widenhouse to learn more about your options. He specializes in breast augmentation and can provide recommendations to fit your goals and lifestyle.


2683 Lake Park Drive
Charleston, SC 29406


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Suite 101
Daniel Island, SC 29492