Breast augmentation recovery

Breast augmentation recovery typically requires that patients minimize physical activity for 3 to 7 days before slowly resuming more strenuous tasks. The amount of downtime required, and the amount of time needed to make a full recovery that allows you to resume all normal activity, is largely dependent upon where the incision was placed, the size of the implant, and whether the breast implant was placed above or below the pectoral muscle.


Breast augmentation is the world’s most popular cosmetic surgery procedure, and techniques are being constantly refined in order to allow women to undergo surgery, recover, and resume their daily routines in the shortest timeframe possible. While the surgery and its results are the common focal points among those considering surgery, it is important to understand that recovery is a relatively brief, but crucial step in achieving the maximum benefits.

If you are considering breast augmentation, you are probably spending considerable time deciding which surgeon to choose and how to budget for the cost of surgery. These are two very important aspects to consider, but it is equally important to budget for time you can spend away from work and other obligations, healing in a calm and relaxing environment and avoiding physical strain. Meanwhile, patients should understand that they will not have to spend their recovery lying in bed for a week; rather, they just have to take care to keep physical activity minimized, and take certain measures to ensure they heal properly.

I encourage anyone considering breast enhancement to spend ample time learning about all aspects of surgery, including the recovery period. By knowing what to expect, and preparing to follow your surgeon’s instructions closely, you can maximize the likelihood of a successful surgery that provides you with many years of boosted confidence and satisfaction with your appearance.

Submuscular versus Subglandular Placement

Breast implants are placed either above or below the pectoral muscle, according to the patient’s lifestyle, aesthetic goals, and other factors. Submuscular placement is the more invasive of the two surgeries, because in addition to requiring an incision in the skin, this method requires separating a portion of the pectoral muscle to create room for the implant. This is often the recommended placement option for women who desire the most natural-looking results, and who do not regularly engage in activity that requires a great deal of upper body strain.

Because it is more invasive, submuscular placement usually requires about a week of downtime away from work and avoiding aerobic exercise, and can require about two to four weeks before doing any lifting. On the other hand, patients who choose subglandular placement are usually able to return to work within two to three days.

Healing garments are an important part of recovery, and they also differ according to implant placement. For submuscular placement, I recommend that patients wear a two-inch wrap-style bandage just above the breast. After surgery, the implant will eventually drop to a small degree as it achieves harmony with your muscle and breast tissues, resulting in a natural appearance.

My colleague James Landeed, M.D., a fellow San Antonio plastic surgeon, explains that this stage of recovery requires patience.

“When breast augmentation involves submuscular placement, the muscle can trap the implant and keep it high until the muscle releases enough to let it fall into the pocket,” he said. “I always tell my patients not to be surprised if it looks high. This can take two to three months or more.”

If a patient chooses subglandular placement, she can wear a conventional bra, but I recommend wearing one without an underwire, which can hinder the process of the implant dropping into place. The location of the incision is another very important factor determining how much time a patient must wait before resuming normal exercise and other activity.

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