Breast augmentation surgery can leave you feeling like you got hit by a car. You may feel pain, fatigue and weakness. How do you deal with the recovery and the side effects of pain medication? Here are tips on how to recover from surgery:
1. Get Prepared for Your Surgery
Believe it or not, there are a variety of things you can do before your surgery takes place in order to significantly increase your comfort throughout the recovery process.
- Set Reasonable Expectations – nothing is worse than completing the breast augmentation surgery and not being satisfied with the results. Your natural body will greatly influence what your breasts look like following the procedure.
- Choose the Right Size – it is not uncommon for women to wish they had chosen a bigger size. Most women err on the side of caution when selecting how large they want their new breasts to be, which makes it easy to underestimate what they really want. Easy ways to prepare for the surgery is by buying several larger bras, adding some padding, and wearing them under your clothes. This will give you a more realistic idea of what size you really want.
- Practice Sleeping Correctly – nothing is worse following your breast enlargement surgery than not being able to sleep. For a week or two before the procedure, practice sleeping on your back or propped up on pillows because you will be forced to sleep like this for several days following your surgery.
2. Choose a great caregiver
A great caregiver is key for a speedy recovery. Your caregiver can be a spouse, friend, family member, or someone you trust to be helpful and reliable during your recovery. You can also hire a caregiver if needed which can be referred to by your surgeon.
As with any large life event, it is crucial to have a strong support system. Undergoing plastic surgery is a big decision, and ultimately a life-changing one. It is important to find people who support you and who can relate to what you are going through. Whether this means enlisting some extra help around the house from your friends or finding a local support group to compare your experiences, don’t be shy when it comes to your self-care.
Your caregiver will need to be with you starting at the beginning of your procedure to ensure you have a safe ride home since you will not be capable of driving yourself after surgery. Following the procedure, you may need a caregiver for at least 5 days, and if you have small children, as long as six weeks, since you cannot do any heavy lifting during that time. It is recommended that you don’t lift anything over 30 pounds for the first month following your breast augmentation procedure, but always listen to the post-op advice from your surgeon.
Due to the medication you will be given during your breast augmentation procedure, line up a driver for your day of surgery. Also, avoid driving for a week after your surgery; your doctor will tell you when it is okay to get back behind the wheel.
If silicone implants were used in your breast augmentation, you can keep them soft, in place and avoid capsular contractures if you massage them every day, starting 24 hours after the surgery. However, if your breasts have textured implants, don’t massage them as it will only slow down the recovery process.
3. Follow the proper procedure to change your bandages
Your surgeon may give you written instructions on how to change your bandages and clean your incisions. It’s important to follow these instructions to prevent infection and minimize scarring. If your surgeon didn’t give you specific instructions, here are some guidelines:
- Change your bandages daily.
- When you remove your bandages, wipe off the blood with a clean wipe and apply an antibiotic cream.
- When your incisions are closed, apply a scar cream twice daily. Your surgeon can recommend a cream.
4. Always wear your support bra
The support bands and bras are an essential part of your recovery. They may feel uncomfortable, but they keep your breasts supported. If you do not wear your supportive bra, your stitches may tear or your incisions may open. You may also be at risk of infection since there will be less airflow underneath your breasts and sweat can be trapped against the incision. Supportive bras also help to compresses your breasts to prevent swelling. You might find it easier to wear a supportive bra with frontal closure or zipper since your arm lifting movements will be limited for the first few days after surgery.
5. Shower or bathe carefully
You may take a shower 24 hours after your surgery. Before you shower, remove your supportive bra. Wrap your bandages with plastic wrap to prevent them from getting wet. If your bandages do get wet, remove them immediately after your shower and put on fresh bandages. When showering, be sure to raise and lower your arms slowly. Never raise your arms above your head during the healing process. Lifting your arms above your head can cause the implants to shift out of the pocket before it is healed properly which can create a need for a correction surgery in the future.
After your shower, immediately put on your supportive bra. You may not take a bath for two weeks after surgery. Keep the incision sites dry following your procedure; no swimming or soaking in tubs for three to four weeks after your surgery. If the incisions are damp or moist, it could be a breeding ground for infection.
6. Do easy chores
If you have a family and a house to take care of, ask your caregiver to do major tasks such as mopping and taking out the garbage. After your surgery, the last thing you want is to have to lug a big mop bucket around. Complete chores that are easy, like dusting or wiping counters. Ask your caregiver to put away heavy plates. If needed, get a lightweight or handheld vacuum to clean up quick messes.
Plan on doing very little after your breast augmentation surgery. For instance, your doctor will order no heavy lifting for six weeks following your procedure; watch what you push, pull and carry during recovery. The doctor may recommend some simple stretching that can aid in healing the week following your procedure but do not exercise until they give the go-ahead.
7. Eat for recovery
Eating can help with the queasiness that often accompanies surgery and subsequent medication; vitamins A and C promote healing of wounds, so foods like fresh citrus and squash are great options after your surgery. Dairy products are full of protein and helpful for healing but could lead to constipation, so choose low-fat options when possible. Incorporate these foods that help with healing into your post-op diet:
- Fresh vegetables, especially dark, leafy greens, for vitamin A.
- Oatmeal and whole-grain cereals, which are a great source of fiber.
- Nuts and legumes, which are high in protein.
- Fresh fruits and berries, like blueberries, which are rich in antioxidants.
If you are having trouble eating or have no appetite, blend up a nutritious and healing smoothie; combine almond milk, protein powder, a frozen banana and a handful of blueberries to the blender. This will provide dense calories and plenty of nutrients to help you heal.
During your recovery, you need food that is full of vitamins and protein to speed your recovery. You also need food that is easy to prepare. Here are some tips:
- Eat ginger chews when you’re experiencing post-surgery nausea.
- Before surgery, prepare frozen meals and casseroles that you can pop in the oven or slow cooker.
- Prepare salads or sandwiches.
- Keep healthy snacks at hand if you don’t have an appetite or the energy to cook. Ideas include carrots and hummus, whole-grain crackers and cheese or peanut butter with celery sticks.
You must take good care of yourself after surgery and follow your surgeon’s instructions. If you need more tips and information about recovery, contact your plastic surgeon.
Of course, you also need to remember to drink healthily as you heal. Stay away from sugary, carbonated beverages or dehydrating alcoholic drinks. Instead, opt for refreshing water to flush the surgery medicines out of your system and keep your body hydrated while you recover. Herbal teas containing mint or ginger can also alleviate any post-surgery nausea.
8. Skip the Alcohol
Avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours after surgery. Also, be aware of alcohol’s interaction with prescription medication that you could be taking post-op.
9. Don’t Hurry
You will need at least a week off from work, though you should not rush it. Also, don’t buy new bras just yet, since you won’t know the right size until the swelling subsides.
Your surgeon is the best resource for tips related to healing and recovery after breast augmentation surgery. Keep a list of questions queries and concerns that may crop up as they arise for your provider during post-operative and follow-up appointments.
If you love exercising, you shouldn’t go to the gym for at least a month. If you do need to exercise, you may start less strenuous exercises like walking a few days after the procedure, with your doctor’s permission.
To promote speedy recovery after breast surgery, you have to sleep in an upright position and not on your stomach for at least two weeks after the surgery.
To see more in-depth on what we consider best practice for sleep check out our breast augmentation recovery sleep guide