Breast Surgery Recovery – What to Expect

The first thing you might notice is a tube in your arm, this is called a drip. It gives your body fluid and medication (like antibiotics and painkillers) if needed.

Any pain, discomfort or symptom that is unusual should be reported to your Surgeon and/or breast care nurse immediately.

The First 24 Hours

During the first day after surgery, patients might experience a lot of pain, tightness, and swelling in their chest area. However, this pain should start to dissipate by the end of the week.

While you are still in hospital your nurse might put a drip into one of the veins in your arm, and this can deliver fluids as well as painkillers. Your nurse can usually remove the drip once you’ve managed to drink a few sips of water and not feel sick.

It is important to get plenty of rest after breast surgery, but you must not lift anything heavy or do any strenuous activities until your surgeon says it’s safe to do so. It is also important to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water to prevent constipation that can be caused by the painkillers and anesthesia.

The First Week

It’s important for a person to have someone drive them home from the hospital and stay with them during their first day or two at home. This person should be familiar with a patient’s post-op instructions, so they can help with things like changing bandages and avoiding showering at the incision sites.

It is possible that a person may develop a fever during this time, but it shouldn’t be a sign of infection. Patients should also make sure they are drinking a lot of water to keep their bodies hydrated.

By the end of this first week, swelling and bruising should have diminished significantly. It is also a good idea to start slowly increasing light exercises to promote blood flow and avoid complications such as clots.

The Second Week

By Day 5, most patients feel more like themselves, and the swelling and bruising will start to subside. At this point, you can resume light work and driving, although we recommend avoiding heavy lifting and activities that strain the breast area until the doctor clears you for them.

In the second week, you’ll have follow-up appointments with Dr Turner to check that your wounds and healing are on track. At this stage, you can also start to gradually reintroduce light exercise, as long as you continue to avoid anything that could damage or dislodge your implants.

By now you should have arranged for someone to stay with you during your recovery and help out with food prep, child care, housework and general household chores. Make sure they have access to your written post-op instructions.

The Third Week

By the third week, any pain or soreness should be significantly diminished. The swelling will be decreasing too, although some breasts may still look tight and compressed.

In hospital you will probably have a tube in one of your veins that is connected to a bag of fluid (a drip). This can be removed the day after your operation and medication including antibiotics and painkillers can be given as tablets or injections.

You will be encouraged to get up and move around gently to aid blood flow and prevent clots. You will also be given instructions on how to care for your wound at home by a nurse or physiotherapist. You may start to suffer from constipation due to the painkillers and anesthesia but this can be eased with Colace or other over-the-counter medication.

The Fourth Week

At this point, swelling and bruising should be starting to dissipate. It may take several weeks or even months for this to fully occur. During this time it’s important to rest and have a support person around to help with household chores, cooking and grocery shopping.

By the fourth week, most patients can resume up to fifty percent of their normal activity. However, they should continue to avoid high impact exercise and upper body activity that places a strain on the pectoral muscles until cleared by their surgeon.

You will also want to begin taking homeopathic pain relievers, such as Sinecch or Arnica Montana. This is particularly helpful in reducing discomfort. Many patients find that this is all they need after surgery and can stop taking prescription pain medications.

The Fifth Week

By the fifth week of recovery, pain and swelling should be minimal. Patients should be able to resume normal activity with the exception of high impact exercises and upper body weight lifting until cleared by their surgeon.

It is important to continue taking it easy during this period, so be sure to ask for help from a friend or family member if needed. Attempting to push yourself too hard could extend your recovery time and even put the results of your boob job in jeopardy.

It is also helpful to have a fridge stocked with healthy, ready-to-eat meals. This will make it easier to focus on healing and lessen your worries about meal prep. You should avoid foods that are high in fat or sugar to aid in the healing process.

The Sixth Week

During this time, most swelling should have dissipated, and the bruising will begin to fade. The patient should also start to see the subtle curves that contribute to the beauty of the breast.

Patients will likely still experience pain, tightness and discomfort, but this should gradually subside over the course of the recovery period. If this persists or becomes worse, it may be a sign of an infection or other complication.

The patient should continue to wear a bra or front closure bra for the rest of the recovery. They should avoid strenuous exercise or heavy lifting until cleared by their plastic surgeon. It is also important to schedule a follow-up appointment with their doctor to check that the implants are healing correctly. This is also an opportunity to ask any remaining questions or concerns.

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