Brunette woman (MODEL) running her fingers through her hair in a white bra.

Recovering from breast augmentation surgery is part of an exciting journey you may have been thinking about for years. Even though the recovery process may seem overwhelming at first, it can be a smooth experience with the right tips and tricks. In this blog post, we’ll share some valuable insights on how to make your breast augmentation recovery as positive as possible.

How Long Does Recovery Take After Breast Augmentation?

When patients ask this question, they’re usually referring to how many days they will need to take off from work or school. The healing process, however, usually takes several weeks more than the time needed to feel well enough to return to work.

Recovery Timeline

You’ll return home on the day of the surgery. You should have an adult with you to provide care for at least the first 24 hours. While every patient recovers at their own pace, this is a typical timeline for recovery after breast augmentation:

  • 3 to 5 days: Return to desk work, school, and light activities.
  • 1 to 2 weeks: Most swelling and bruising are diminished. Nipple sensitivity returns to normal.
  • 2 weeks: Resume low-impact exercise.
  • 3 weeks: Incisions are healed, and you can swim, take a bath, or go into the ocean.
  • 4 weeks: Resume regular exercise routine (with doctor’s approval).
  • 2 to 3 months: Breasts implants “drop and fluff,” settling into place.
  • 3 to 6 months: Enjoy your final results.
  • 6 to 12+ months: Scars fade.

Again, these are estimates, and you may reach some of these milestones sooner or later than other patients. It’s also important to get plenty of rest during the first week of recovery.

When Can I Drive After Breast Augmentation?

We recommend waiting to drive until you have a full range of motion and are no longer experiencing any pain or discomfort. This usually occurs within the first week or two after surgery. It’s also important to avoid driving while taking prescription pain medication or other medications that may affect your ability to drive safely.

When Can I Sleep on My Side?

Sleeping on your side puts pressure on the breasts and delays healing. It’s also uncomfortable during the first few weeks after breast augmentation surgery. We recommend sleeping on your back with your upper body elevated with pillows for 2 to 3 weeks. You can also sleep in a recliner if that’s more comfortable.

What About Working Out?

Many breast augmentation patients lead active lives and want to know how soon they can return to the gym, pool, or other strenuous exercise regimens. However, it’s important that the only thing you exercise for the first few weeks is patience. Even if you feel completely back to normal, your body and breasts are still healing during the first month after surgery. Taking short walks starting on day 1 is encouraged, but you should avoid elevating your heart rate. Discussing your exercise plans with your surgeon can help ensure a successful recovery.

When Will I See the Results?

You’ll notice that the implants sit high on the chest in the weeks immediately after surgery. Many “after” photos in before-and-after galleries are taken during this time. As the breast tissue and muscle start to relax, the implants gradually settle into a natural position and fill out the bottom of the breasts. This process, often called “drop-and-fluff,” takes 3 or more months to complete. Massaging the implants and breasts can accelerate this process.

Actual patient before & after photos of breast augmentation (Koch & Carlisle logo)
35-year-old female, received breast augmentation from Dr. Carlisle.

5 Tips for a Smooth Breast Augmentation Recovery

Now that you have an idea of what to expect during the recovery, here are some tips that can help you get back to your normal routine as soon as possible:

  • Follow your surgeon’s post-op instructions: Every plastic surgeon develops their own list of detailed instructions based on their training and experience. These include instructions about incision care, medication, follow-up appointments, and activity restrictions. Closely following these instructions is the best way to ensure your recovery is successful.
  • Rest, rest, rest: Even when you don’t feel like resting, rest. This is especially true during the first week. Breast augmentation is a fairly straightforward procedure, but it’s still surgery, and your body needs rest to heal properly.
  • Wear your surgical bra: The surgeon provides you with a surgical bra to support your breasts and reduce swelling. It’s not the most comfortable bra you’ll ever wear, but it is important to wear it as directed by your surgeon.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol: If you smoke (or vape), you’ll need to stop for a few weeks both before and after surgery. Smoking delays recovery following any surgery. Alcohol also interferes with the healing process and increases the risk of complications. You should stop drinking for at least 2 weeks after surgery.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet full of vitamins and minerals can support the healing process and reduce the risk of complications. Make sure to eat a diet that is rich in lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables.

If you’ve been thinking about getting breast implants and want to discuss breast augmentation with a board-certified plastic surgeon at our West Des Moines practice, you can request a consultation using the online form, or call our office at (515) 277-5555 to schedule an appointment.

Leave a Reply

Fields marked with * are required.

New Patient Paperwork Contact