Recovery from breast enhancement progresses in stages. Immediately after breast augmentation, patients are likely to feel pain, possibly nausea, and confusion as they awaken from anesthesia. In the ensuing weeks, varying levels of pain, swelling, bruising, and numbness are common. Woman should be prepared to alter their lifestyle for several weeks, including sleeping in an upright position and avoiding exercise. Be mindful of the emotional challenges and adjustment period that can occur after breast augmentation as well.
After breast augmentation surgery is completed, patients are moved to a recovery room where they slowly wake from anesthesia and where nurses can monitor them. Some women may wake up confused about their surroundings; this is a typical side effect of anesthesia. Many patients will experience some level of pain. Soreness is common at the incision sites and throughout the arms, back, and stomach.
After discharge, the recovery period continues at home. The breasts likely will be very swollen, bruised, and sensitive. Pain will continue, although it should lessen day to day. The skin over the chest may feel itchy and tight because it has been stretched to a larger size to accommodate the breast implants. Patients often are sent home with compression bandages which feel constricting and can make it difficult to take deep breaths.
During this time, the new breasts may feel and look odd. They probably will feel harder than natural breasts because the implants have not dropped into permanent position. Many women report numbness over the entire breast or just in the nipple area. The breasts also can take on a torpedo shape because the implants have not settled. These side effects are typically temporary.
Immediately after breast augmentation, women should expect to alter their normal routine. Surgeons likely will suggest sleeping upright for several days to keep pressure off of the incisions. Women also should not exercise, perform any heaving lifting, have intercourse, or bend over for about two weeks post-surgery. All of these activities can put pressure on the new implants, thus putting patients at risk for complications.
The swelling and bruising usually subside noticeably within a month. The implants will begin to settle and the breasts will take on a more normal shape and feel. Patients may experience residual pain, but it likely will not be debilitating. Numbness also should diminish during this time, although some women may not feel breast sensations for over a year, if ever.
Along with the physical recovery, expect a period of emotional adjustment after breast augmentation. Some patients may be unhappy with their breasts or surprised at the larger size immediately after surgery. Others may be dissatisfied with the shape or loss of feeling. These women should air these concerns with their doctor. The more fortunate patients have the opposite reaction and experience satisfaction and a surge of self-confidence after breast augmentation.