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 your 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 for 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. And therefore, 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 is not uncommon but is also not helpful to 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 breast feeding 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.
Breast Asymmetry Before and After Surgery
An important thing to remember during your recovery is that your breasts are not symmetrical before surgery. In fact, breast asymmetry is incredibly common. Typically, the left breast is slightly larger, and it isn’t uncommon for it to be up to 20% larger in volume. Some asymmetrical issues may become more visible when other issues are correct during breast surgery.
As a result, it is important to ask your plastic surgeon what surgery can and cannot do in regard to breast asymmetry. It is also important to ask about any concerns you have regarding differences in nipple and breast size prior to surgery. Sometimes your surgeon may be able to correct asymmetry issues with a different sized implant or a greater reduction of one nipple or breast.
Further, it is also important to remember that asymmetry might present itself during healing due to post-operative swelling. It is important to let your swelling ease before assessing any further asymmetry.
What to Expect During Recovery
It is important to remember the following during your recovery period:
- You will need down time 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 skin is tighter due to swelling or bruising
- It may seem like your breasts are “a bit to 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 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 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 complication. 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. Further, smoking wreaks havoc on your emotions which are already heightened after surgery. 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 down time 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 with people who can support you during your recovery and help you during your down time. 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 after care 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
By knowing your emotional reactions are common after having surgery can help you feel more confident and assured about having your procedure. Try using this down time 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 is 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 swim wear.
Recommended Reading During Recovery
We have put together a list of recommended reading for patients during their recovery period. This list is specifically for patients recovering from breast surgery procedures:
- Re-read any guides you downloaded prior to your consultation
- Read your Rapid Recovery guide and Post-Op Instructions, and follow them
- Women’s Health Magazine Best Self Help Books
- The Independent’s List of Best Self Help Books for 2017-2018
- The Independent’s List of “Best Self Help Books for 2017-2018”
Further, it is helpful to have these books in advance or ask a friend to borrow them for your or buy them for you so you are not exerting yourself during recovery.
Our team has also recently published several helpful Guides to Successful Cosmetic Plastic Surgery; which I’m sure you’ll find helpful to prepare for both your initial breast surgery consultation AND your post-surgery recovery processes.
You can download them from the guides page or call our Care Team on (03) 8849 1444.
Please Contact Dr.Rubinstein’s office to book a consultation or enquire about further information regarding plastic surgery procedures.
Dr. Craig Rubinstein’s affiliations include:
*Remember: This information is not intended to replace any advice Dr Rubinstein gives you during your consultation, which will be based on the breast surgery you will actually be having, your lifestyle, skin health, and daily habits.