Breast Augmentation Surgery Recovery

What to Expect

After your surgery has been completed, you will be taken to a recovery area. Generally speaking, you are kept here for about an hour, or until you are coherent enough to leave the hospital/surgical suite. You will likely receive something to drink (Ginger Ale, juice, etc), and possibly be offered something to eat (crackers, etc.).

When you initially begin to wake up, you will feel very groggy. It may be hard for you to keep your eyes open. This is due to the effects of the anesthetic used during surgery. However, you do want to try your very best to wake up. The sooner you are awake and coherent, the sooner you can leave and begin your recovery in the comfort of your own home.

Note: Be sure to read the Dos and Don’ts, Is Something Wrong, and Preparing for Surgery pages for more helpful information regarding breast augmentation recovery.

Print the PDF version of this page to keep handy during your recovery. It will also prove helpful for your caretaker or partner.

What Does Breast Augmentation Recovery Feel Like?

Waking Up From Brest Augmentation Surgery – What to Expect

When you first wake up, you will likely feel a great deal of pressure on your chest. It may feel as though an elephant is sitting on your chest. If the implants have been placed beneath the muscle, is also common to feel as though you have done a thousand push-ups. This is due to the stretching of the chest muscles. This results in a very sore chest, and you will notice discomfort in your chest each and every time you use your pectoral muscles. Moving your arms, getting out of the car, getting up from a chair or sofa, sneezing, coughing, heaving, reaching up to grab something from a cabinet, washing your hair….all of these things, and more,cause your pectoral muscles to flex. At the very least, it is uncomfortable, and at worse, very painful.

Once you have recovered enough from the anesthesia to know what’s going on, your first question may be, “How many cc’s did I get?” It was my first question after each and every surgery, and it is the same question countless women ask upon awakening from breast augmentation surgery.

It is very likely that you’re going to want to see your results immediately, but chances are, this will not be possible. Plastic surgeons generally put a bra of some sort on their patients after surgery. If no bra is put on, your surgeon will likely wrap your chest in an ace bandage. Women are often told to keep the bra or bandage on until the next day, or until their next post-op appointment, etc.. If this is the case, you won’t be able to see your results without removing whatever type of garment you’re in. If your surgeon doesn’t want you to do that, follow his or her instructions and leave things as they are. Breast implants can feel very heavy, especially right after surgery; therefore, support from any type of garment is making you feel better (whether you know it or not). Additionally, if your surgeon has wrapped you in an ace bandage (with or without a bra on), you’ll need to make sure you can put the garment back just like it was if you decide to remove it. For this reason alone, it is best to just wait.

How Will My Breasts Look Right After Surgery?

In the first few days after surgery, your breasts will not look like that of a Playboy model. Breast augmentation surgery does not give instant results. There is a healing process that everyone has to go through before the final result is actually seen. Be sure to read the pre-surgery tips page to make your recovery as comfortable as possible.

Sutures are used to close your incision. Most surgeons then apply Dermabond, which is a type of skin glue, to hold the skin together. This aids in helping to form a thin scar. Steri-strips are usually applied next. They typically stay on until the surgeon takes them off.

Breast Augmentation Recovery – Specifics

The list below goes over the most common things associated with recovery. You may only have one or two things on the list (aside from pain/discomfort), or you may have several. This list is not intended to scare anyone. These things can happen after any type of surgery regardless of whether it is elective plastic surgery or a medically necessary surgery.

Do keep in mind that you will be tired, cranky, sore, possibly nauseous, and maybe slightly depressed. These things are perfectly normal, and they will pass.

If the implants are placed beneath the muscle, expect to have very sore chest muscles and a lot of pressure on your chest. If the implants are placed over the muscle, expect have some soreness and pressure, but no sore muscles.
It’s likely you’ll have some numbness following your surgery. This is normal and to be expected. Normal sensation should return over time. This can take weeks or months. It is impossible to predict.
Swelling is to be expected after having breast augmentation surgery. Your breasts will be swollen, tender, and may feel just a bit warm to the touch. It is impossible to determine the amount of swelling each individual will have. Each surgery and individual is unique.

You may have bruising after your surgery. This is normal and to be expected. Most all plastic surgeons use cauterization during breast augmentation surgery. This seals off the blood vessels, which results in less bruising. Some individuals have no bruising, some have a little, and some have quite a bit. Like swelling, it is unpredictable.

Bruising can be very odd. For example, bruising on your chest/breasts may fade away, or the bruising can actually move downward, sort of like it is sliding down from your chest to your abdomen to your groin, etc. This can happen after any surgery. It will dissipate on it’s own whether it fades away or “slides down.”

“Zingers” are sharp, shooting pains in your breasts. These are common and can last for several weeks, and even a few months post-operatively, although if they persist that long, they will be few and far in between. While they can be annoying and a little uncomfortable, they are actually a good sign that you’re healing. Zingers come and go, and last a second or two, then go away.
Burning Sensations:
Burning sensations early post-op are typically a result of the muscle being stretched. Like zingers, burning sensations are common in the early post-operative period.
You may feel very lightheaded during the first few days. Anesthesia, narcotic pain killers, and lack of sleep can all contribute to this. To be on the safe side, get up slowly, as this doesn’t cause as quick of a drop in blood pressure versus getting up quickly.

“Frankboob”. Sounds scary, right? It can be, but only if you don’t know to expect it. As mentioned earlier, your breasts will not look perfect right away. In fact, it may take weeks for them to begin to look “normal” again. This is particularly true with breast implants placed beneath the muscle, as they take longer to drop and fluff. What does all this mean? Your implants may look like they are positioned right underneath your collar bone. They may look square, oblong, flat and broad, one may be higher than the other, rounder than the other, small than the other, or you may have some other weird shape that is anything but natural-looking. This, along with swelling and any bruising, is Frankenboob. No one can predict who will or won’t have “Frankenboob” after surgery. Just take heart that if it does happen to you, remember that it is only temporary.

Some women, even those that get unders, never have “Frankenboob”, while others do. The best thing to do is prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.

Itchy Breasts:
Your breasts may itch after surgery. The itching is due to the skin being stretched so much at one time.
Itchy Incisions:
All incisions have a strong tendency to itch. It’s a normal part of the healing process. If you have steristrips on your incisions, scratching won’t help much. If you don’t have steristrips on, or if you had them, but they have now come off, you definitely cannot scratch. If you do, you can introduce bacteria to the incision, and you also run the risk of injuring (opening) the incision. Instead, try putting an icepack on the incision for a couple of minutes. Many times, the change in temperature will alleviate the itching.
Bloating is very common after breast augmentation surgery. This can be partially attributed to the IV fluids administered during surgery. There is not much that you can be done about this, aside from drinking lots of fluids to help flush your system. Contradictory as it may sound, it does help.
Backache is very common after breast augmentation surgery, particularly in women with implants placed submuscularly. Women with “unders” often use other muscles such as those in their back, their abdomen, etc., to compensate for not using their chest muscles as much. Additionally, natural sleeping positions are altered in the early days of recovery since it is very uncomfortable to lay flat of your back, or on your side. Sleeping on your stomach is impossible at first. In the early post-op period, most women sleep in a somewhat reclining position, which is also tough on the back since it is not how we normally sleep. Lastly, it is quite common to walk around with the shoulders hunched forward. It’s like a subconscious way of protecting our very sore chests after surgery. In actuality, slouching in this way does not protect anything. It simply adds to the back problems that are commonly encountered during recovery from breast augmentation surgery.
It is common to feel nauseous immediately after surgery and during the first week or so afterwards. Immediately after surgery, strong anesthetics are still in the system. These drugs can cause nausea. In addition, pain medications are notorious for inducing nausea.
Anesthesia and narcotics (pain medication) can cause constipation. Coupled with the fact that women aren’t as active in the early days post-operatively, constipation should pretty much be expected.
Knotty Incisions:

This is normal, but if you don’t know to expect it, it can be quite unnerving. Incisions can feel “lumpy” during the early recovery period. When feeling the incision, it feels like there are small knots underneath it. This is due to scar tissue underneath the incision. This goes away and is not permanent.

If you have steri-strips on, you can gently massage the incision, as this helps break up scar tissue a little faster than letting it dissipate on its own. However, if your incisions are not covered by steri-strips, and it has not been at least two weeks since your surgery, it is best not to massage them because touching them can introduce bacteria, which can lead to infection.

Lack of Energy:
Surgery is controlled trauma to the body. Our bodies use energy to heal. This, along with having your normal sleep routine disrupted, can cause you to feel sluggish. Constipation does not help with the lack of energy, as it can make you feel even more sluggish. When narcotic pain relievers are added to this mix, it can make you feel completely zapped of all energy. Like everything else on this list, it is only temporary, and will pass, given a little time.
Lack of Appetite:
You may or may not have a change in appetite. If you do, it isn’t abnormal. Some women have ferocious appetites the evening after surgery, and others don’t. This just depends on the individual situation.
Menstrual Changes:
Undergoing any type of major surgery can sometimes alter monthly menstrual cycles. As long as you are certain that you were not pregnant prior to surgery, this is nothing to worry about unless you are having other symptoms of female problems. If you are having no other issues, your cycle should return to normal in a few weeks.
“Boobie Blues”:

This is not really “depression” in the clinical sense. You may or may not get the “blues” after surgery. Again, anesthesia, narcotics, discomfort, lack of sleep, “Frankenboob”, and (possibly) cabin fever can all contribute to feelings of depression. Cabin fever happens when one hibernates in the house during recovery and doesn’t leave. Getting out, even if it’s just for a car ride, can do wonders for your mood!

Another facet of the boobie blues includes second-guessing your decision to get breast augmentation, which sometimes happens in the early stages when your breasts are not looking as pretty as you’d like.

Not everyone gets the boobie blues, but if you do, don’t fret. It passes rather quickly!

Breast Augmentation Recovery Difficulties

There are several things that we do on a daily basis that involve the use of our chest muscles. We use our chest muscles for things that never even occur to us until after having breast augmentation surgery. The following list will give you a better idea of the things that may prove difficult in the early days of your recovery.

  • Opening sliding glass doors
  • Opening childproof medicine
  • Opening drink bottles (twist-off caps)
  • Lifting anything heavy (even a gallon a gallon of water)
  • Opening car doors
  • Shutting car doors
  • Changing gears in a car with a manual transmission
  • Driving (turning the steering wheel)
  • Picking up your child/children
  • Putting your child in a car seat
  • Getting out of a recliner (may be impossible without help)
  • Washing your hair
  • Styling your hair
  • Putting shirts/sweaters on over your head
  • Bending over forward

Bending over, raising your arms to wash your hair, style your hair, and putting shirts on over your head stretches the chest muscles. Everything else on the list causes your chest muscles to flex. While it may not be impossible to do everything on this list, it will cause you discomfort.

Picking up Children

If you have small children, it will be difficult to pick them up. For some women, it may be impossible early-on. If you have a baby, it is important to have some help for the first few days.

If you have a baby, and he/she is young enough to allow you to leave the side of the crib down, you should be able to bend over, grab your child, hold them close to your chest, and then stand back up. By doing it this way, you’re not using chest muscles as much. Instead, you are using your back muscles to lift the weight.

Toddlers are a bit easier to deal with when you’re recovering from breast augmentation surgery. While all toddlers like to be picked up, you can get around that. For example, if your 18-month old is crying and wants to be held, you can squat down and hug them, or you can sit on the sofa or in a chair and have them climb up into your lap so that you can hold them.

If your child is not old enough to climb into their car seat, you will definitely need help.


You will feel better with each passing day. By the time you are one week post-op, you should feel much better. You will still be sore, but you will be feeling more like yourself.