Upon waking from surgery, you will have a surgical bra in place with gauze pads on your chest covering the incisions. Typically, you will have tape or glue under the gauze, directly covering the incision sites. Your surgeon will tell you what to do with these dressings, like when to change them and when you can shower. The surgical compression bra should be worn 24 hours a day, except to shower and assess your breasts. In general, the first week after surgery you will have moderate pain in your breasts and around the sides of your chest. Most people describe the pain after surgery as muscle soreness. This pain should be easily controlled by your doctor’s prescribed medications and will get a little better each day.
There may be minor drainage from the incision lines, like blood or clear fluid. You may even have drains to help manage any expected drainage. This will lessen over the first few days. You should expect to rest the first 24 hours after surgery with intermittent periods of light walking around your home to the bathroom and to get food. Starting the day following your surgery, you will be permitted to go outside for brief 10–15-minute walks up to 3 times per day.
You should expect to return to your surgeon’s office at least 1 to 2 times during the first week after surgery. This will include monitoring and management of any dressings, sutures, and drains. At your first week’s postoperative visit, you will receive a new compression bra that further expedites the resolution of swelling after surgery, while providing necessary support as you heal. At about one week you should expect any bruising to begin resolving, which may turn a yellowish hue. It is normal to still experience some slight soreness and inflammation. After one week you may start sleeping in a modified sideways position and briefly showering fully, including your breasts and the incision sites. By this time, returning to a sedentary work environment is expected. All medications should be discontinued by 1-week post-op.
One month after surgery, you will be feeling very well. Other than some minor swelling and numbness, life pretty much returns to normal. You will be cleared by your doctor to return to full workouts, including cardio and high-impact exercises. You will be transitioned from your surgical compression bra into something more “normal” like a sports bra for daily wear. There will be no more care of the surgical site other than keeping the healing incisions clean/dry. Your surgeon by one month will likely advise beginning a topical scar therapy regimen consisting of silicone gels to minimize their appearance for the next 3 months.
How to Speed Up Your Recovery
- Follow instructions: Your plastic surgeon’s specific aftercare instructions will include guidelines on things such as which medications and supplements are okay to take and which are not, when and how long to wear a compression garment, how to properly clean incisions and when to reintroduce your body to exercise. Your instructions will depend on your procedure and other factors specific to your unique situation, so follow your plastic surgeon’s instructions.
- Move: Getting up and moving in the early phase after surgery will help restore blood flow to your tissues following a period of immobility. This ultimately helps reduce swelling with gravity and reduces the risk of postoperative constipation. It is important not to be overly active and to follow your surgeon’s guidance.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking decreases circulation and oxygenation of the tissues, which is harmful to surgical recovery. Most plastic surgical procedures will require you to abstain from smoking for 2-4 weeks before and after.
- Healthy eating/hydration: Be sure to follow a high-protein, nutrient-rich diet during the period after surgery. This is important for proper wound healing. You should prepare to drink more than the normal amount of water for the first 1-3 days after surgery. This will help restore any fluid volume lost with blood during surgery and helps to prevent postoperative constipation. Avoiding alcohol and salty foods will also improve your recovery.
How Do I Schedule a Consultation?
The first step to scheduling a consultation would be doing thorough research. There are many ways to find a plastic surgeon. Arguably the best way would be to receive a referral from another physician, such as an internist, dermatologist, or OB-GYN. These providers often see multiple patients with good results and can attest to those by referring their own patients somewhere. Friends are a secondarily good referral source, especially if they are patients themselves. When it comes to advertising, the most essential consideration is the plastic surgeon’s education, board certification ONLY by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and before/after gallery. If those components match your desired outcome, then they would be a good source of information to seek in consultation. You will often come across taglines such as “no downtime surgery” or “no anesthesia required”. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are no shortcuts to SAFE plastic surgery.
The next step would be contacting the office of a board-certified plastic surgeon to find a time to meet them. First impressions last a lifetime, so pay attention when speaking to the receptionist upon calling. Should you decide to have surgery, this is the team you will be dealing with multiple times per month for at least a year. The administrative team is a direct reflection of the surgeon’s ways of working. Another thing to clarify would be a potential timeline for surgery. This is sometimes best done before reaching out to qualified providers because they are booked one to six months out, on average. Knowing well enough in advance will give you adequate time to interview surgeons, get any preoperative lab work done, and feel confident moving forward with your scheduled procedure.