Tips for Recovery after Breast Surgery
Any cosmetic surgery is an emotional experience. Breast surgery procedures, whether they be breast augmentation, breast lift or breast reduction, are no different. As a result, it is important to know what to expect during all stages of your procedure, from your first consultation to recovery, to your yearly post-surgical reviews. In this blog, we discuss what to expect during your breast surgery recovery period and the common emotions behind breast surgery.
All Surgical Procedures and Experiences are Unique
It is important to remember that all surgical procedures are unique. As a result, your surgical results will also be unique. By understanding the variability of results and the healing process, you will feel far less nervous. This will also allow you to focus on the positive outcomes during your recovery as well as understand the different emotions you might be feeling. However, if you do have any concerns at any stage during your recovery, it is important that you contact a qualified plastic surgeon.
Breast Surgery Procedures are Customised to Your Needs
When a plastic surgeon performs a breast procedure, they need to consider a variety of factors. These include:
- Skin health and resilience
- Your specific preferences
- Breast variation from right to left
- Breast proportions
- Skin strength
- Nipple size, shape, and location
As a result, your surgery will vary from that of another patient. Your surgeon will advise you on this during your consultation and it is important to keep that in mind. Further, it is important to remember that, while imaging and sizing methods are valuable to the consultation process, they are not 100% predictive. It is important to allow swelling to settle before you decide if you’re happy with your results.
Remember Your Experiences Will Vary from Other Patients
Because all procedures are unique, it makes sense that not only will your results be different but so will your emotions. So why is this the case?
- Every breast surgery patient is different, physically, emotionally, and socially
- No two breasts or healing processes are the same
- Every procedure is customised to fit the individual, so no two procedures are identical
- Healing processes are also highly variable with lifestyle, genetics and aging impacting your results
Therefore, surgical experiences and outcomes will be different. It is not helpful to your recovery process or mental health to focus on someone else’s progress.
Seeing Results Takes Time
Remember, seeing results after any surgical procedure – including breast surgery – takes time. Patience is a virtue as you heal but it can be difficult to be patient when you feel emotional after surgery. Remind yourself that:
- Feeling emotional is normal, especially when you’re tired and uncomfortable
- Self-doubt and self-questioning are not uncommon but are also not helpful in recovery
- Adopt a wait-and-see perspective and give your results time
- Remember that post-surgical swelling, bruising or discomfort will ease
- Know that your scars will typically fade over several months and some people scar more than others
- Avoid sun exposure on your surgical incisions/scars
- Don’t try to do too much, too soon
- How you heal and how your skin ages, as well as your lifestyle and nutrition, all affect your recovery
- Post-surgery pregnancy, weight gain or weight loss, and breastfeeding also affect recovery and results
Finally, it is important to remember that breasts are best seen as “sisters, not twins”. Your breasts will continue to reflect this after surgery. However, major asymmetry can sometimes be corrected during your breast surgery procedure.
What to Expect During Recovery
It is important to remember the following during your recovery period:
- You will need downtime and rest
- Don’t forget to take all required antibiotics, probiotics, supplements, and medications
- Take time off work, parenting and/or household duties
- Wear a supportive or surgical bra 24/7
- You may feel uncomfortable, including a sensation that the skin is tighter due to swelling or bruising
- It may seem like your breasts are “a bit too high” on the chest wall
- This is due to having a fuller, upper pole just after surgery
- This will settle after the first few months or a year and makes for better, longer-lasting results
- You may find yourself questioning your size choices
- Rest assured that moderation is often best in terms of size choices and, in a year, you may feel differently
- You may want to increase your size again
- Beware the tendency to go too large with implants, as it leads to a less natural-looking result
- Further, this can lead to an increased risk of complications
Most patients who have breast surgery are happy with their breast implant selection. However, it can take time for some patients who tend to second-guess themselves and their decisions, to be content.
Breast Augmentation Before and After Photos
Breast Augmentation aims to provide fuller breast volume and altered cleavage through the use of breast implants and, in some cases, fat grafting.
Breast Surgery Recovery Time Frames
In general, Dr Rubinstein recommends allowing 2 weeks off most work duties, if you can. However, if your workplace requires heavy lifting or is a competitive sport, you will need several weeks for recovery. However, this is only a general period and it does vary depending on what type of surgery you have. You can call us today to ask for more resources relating to healing and recovery, and the typical waiting times before returning to exercising or sports.
Further, recovery time frames for breast surgery also depend on your healing processes and whether you experience an infection or other complications. During your consultation with Dr. Rubinstein, you will discuss your breast surgery process and the recovery time frames for your specific procedure.
Before attending your consultation, it is important to read any guides you have downloaded, to make the most of your consultation. Further, ensure you jot down any questions you might have, in advance, and bring them with you. It can also help to bring a family member with you to help you navigate all the information given.
Do Not Smoke During Recovery
It is extremely important that you don’t smoke at any stage before or after your surgery. Patients who smoke nearly always suffer from skin issues and wound breakdowns or infections. This is due to the fact their healing is seriously compromised due to smoking. As a result, it is extremely important that you:
- Tell your surgeon well in advance if you are addicted to nicotine or other smoking substances
- Do not put false information on your registration form
- If you smoke and you are intending to quit, it is important to put down that you currently smoke
- Discuss your plans to quit with your surgeon
- Quit several months to a year in advance of your surgery
- Otherwise, you risk having poor skin healing or less than satisfactory results
Breast Surgery Emotions: What to Expect
Handling your post-operative recovery period is sometimes easy. But for others, it can be challenging. Recovery means you have both downtime and thinking time. Further, you’ll likely be tired due to not sleeping as well, though your sleeping will regulate after a couple of days. These factors combine to make some patients feel highly emotional after surgery. It is common to feel:
- Emotionally sensitive
- Doubtful about your procedure, surgeon, breast implant type or size, reduction volume, or scars
- Concerned that surgery was not a good idea in the first place
- Initially elated about surgery before feeling down
- You are cycling through positive and negative days
- Upset, angry or short-tempered with family, friends, or pets
It is important to be gentle with yourself during this time. Further, focusing on activities that occupy your mind rather than letting yourself dwell on every minute detail of your body and surgery, is also important. Find things that help improve positive thinking.
Have Support During Breast Surgery Recovery
It is important, during recovery, to surround yourself with positive people as you heal. Unfortunately, negative people and reactions will only make your emotions more intense. So, ensure you are surrounded by people who can support you during your recovery and help you during your downtime. It is also helpful to have people around you who may have attended your consultations, so they can help you work through your recovery period with knowledge from your consultation.
Consult Your Surgeon and After Care Team for Strategies
So, it’s important to know what you can expect, emotionally, during this time. Consult with your surgeon and aftercare team so you can:
- Anticipate common emotions after breast surgery and avoid extra stress
- Put strategies in place to cope with feeling tired, sensitive, or emotional as you heal
- Avoid stress so you can rest better, heal better, and recover faster
Knowing your emotional reactions are common after having surgery can help you feel more confident and assured about having your procedure. Try using this downtime to indulge in a favourite activity or take up a new hobby. Just make sure they’re not activities that you’ve been told to avoid during recovery.
Dr Rubinstein and his team are here to support you through your entire surgery process, including recovery. We do all we can to help you through your recovery period. However, it is important to follow all instructions and read and follow the information given to you in the Rapid Recovery Guide book.
You can also get more information from the team during free events or during your breast surgery consultation. Meeting and talking to previous patients during a free event can help you understand what to expect about the process.
At Cosmetic Surgery for Women and Men, we hold regular monthly events so you can:
- meet the team.
- hear from other patients or see their before and after events.
- learn more about what’s involved and what to expect during breast surgery.
Recovery Emotions Will Pass
It is important to remember that the emotional turmoil you experience during recovery will pass as you begin to heal. This can take anywhere between a few days to a few weeks. As your emotions normalise, you will find you have renewed energy during the recovery phase. It is also common to cycle through up and down periods, which will eventually level out to normal. If you maintain healthy and realistic expectations during your recovery, you will find your emotions normalise faster. Not only will you reach a stage of contentment but also a renewed sense of positivity regarding your body and surgery.
Remember to enjoy your recovery time for as long as you can. It won’t last indefinitely and soon you’ll be out shopping for new bras and swimwear.
Further, it is helpful to have these books in advance or ask a friend to borrow them for you or buy them for you so you are not exerting yourself during recovery.
About Dr Craig Rubinstein
Dr Craig Rubinstein FRACS (Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons) is an experienced Melbourne Specialist Plastic Surgeon for breast and abdominoplasty surgery.
Dr Rubinstein offers women personalised abdominoplasty surgery and all forms of cosmetic breast surgery.
BOOK A CONSULTATION 1300 599 990
Next Steps in Your Surgical Journey
Want more information about your Procedure?
- Download a Free Procedure Guide on your chosen surgery.
- Visit the FAQs and read patient reviews to learn more about your intended procedure.
- For more information about pricing visit our cost page.
- You can also talk to our Patient Care Team from 9 to 5 pm Monday to Friday on 1300 599 990
About Your First Consultation
- Dr Rubinstein’s Consultation fee is $300.
- A referral from your GP or specialist is essential.
- A referral helps when claiming Medicare or Private Health Insurance coverage.
- Please contact the Patient Care Team at Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery to book your consultation.
What to Bring to Your Consultation
- You are more than welcome to bring a friend or relative to help discuss the information and your choices.
- Ensure you also take a lot of notes and thoroughly examine the documents provided.
- Please be aware you may need to undress for a physical exam so wear simple clothes.