If you feel anxious about your upcoming breast augmentation surgery, you are not alone. 60% to 90% of patients experience anxiety before undergoing surgical procedures.
A main source of preoperative fear is not knowing what to expect from the procedure. You may want to know if you will experience pain and how long it will take you to recover after breast augmentation.
We want to help ease your concerns with this guide. Below, we will explain what happens before, during, and after your procedure. Plus, we’ll answer the top breast augmentation questions we get from patients like you.
What to Expect Before Breast Augmentation Surgery
Your breast augmentation journey begins with an initial consultation with a plastic surgeon. After the appointment, you will schedule a date for your procedure. Then, there are a few things you need to do to prepare for surgery.
The Initial Consultation
Any time you get plastic surgery, you will have an initial consultation with your surgeon. The goal of this consultation is to discuss your medical history and desired results. The surgeon will align your expectations with the reality of what is possible.
A breast augmentation consultation allows you to identify what shape and size of implants you want. You and your surgeon can also discuss incision placement and breast implant types, which include:
- Saline implants
- Structured saline implants
- Silicone implants
- Form-stable implants
- Round implants
- Smooth implants
If you don’t know what size is right for you, you can try on different breast implants. Plastic surgeons use specialized bras that give you an idea of the size and shape that suits your body type and unique lifestyle.
The initial consultation is also the time to voice concerns and ask your surgeon questions. Your surgeon can explain the risks of the procedure, provide other patients’ before-and-after photos, and give you tips and tricks for feeling less anxious before surgery.
At the end of your consultation, you will have the choice to book your breast augmentation appointment. Some patients prefer to take time to make a decision. In that case, you can book your appointment at a later date.
Preparing for Surgery
There are a few things your surgeon may recommend for breast augmentation preparation in the days leading up to your appointment. You may need to get a blood test or adjust certain prescription medications.
If you use tobacco products or recreational drugs, your surgeon will also recommend quitting. These substances slow the healing process and may increase your risk of post-surgical complications.
You should also arrange a comfortable recovery space and transportation to and from your appointment in the days leading up to your surgery. Taking care of these things beforehand can help with stress and anxiety on the day of your procedure.
Your doctor may recommend that you refrain from eating and drinking for at least eight hours before surgery. Also, avoid using anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin before surgery, as these drugs worsen bleeding.
It is crucial to follow all the guidelines your surgeon recommends. That way, you can decrease the risk of post-surgical complications and make a speedier recovery.
What to Expect During Breast Augmentation Surgery
On the day of your surgery, dress in comfortable clothing. We recommend wearing a loose-fitting shirt that unfastens at the front. Avoid applying makeup, perfume, lotion, or deodorant to the area.
The surgeon will prep you for breast augmentation once you arrive at the surgery center. This includes cleaning your chest area with infection-fighting soap and marking the incision.
When you are prepped, the surgeon’s assistant will use machines to monitor your vital signs during the procedure. Then, the anesthesiologist or anesthetist will administer IVs containing a hydrating saline solution and the anesthetic.
The anesthesia will ensure you stay asleep during the entirety of the surgery. It also keeps you from experiencing any pain. The next thing you know, you will wake up with your new breasts.
The entire breast augmentation procedure only lasts an hour to an hour and a half. Below, we explain what happens during the breast augmentation surgery process.
Making the Incisions
The first step is for the surgeon to create the incision. This incision is where the implant will be inserted. There are four places where you can have your incision, which you and your surgeon will determine during the consultation.
The four areas where breast augmentation incisions can be placed are:
- In the crease of your breast
- Around the perimeter of your areolas
- Under your armpit
- Through your belly button
Plastic surgeons prefer to make incisions in the crease of the breast. It gives them the most control over implant positioning. The only downside is that these scars are more visible than other implant sites.
Creating the Implant Pockets
Once the incision is in place, your surgeon will create a pocket to place the implant. There are two ways to create this pocket, depending on the implant type and size.
The first method is to create a pocket beneath your breast tissue. The implant will sit on top of your pectoral muscle. You may prefer this method if you want to minimize pain, provide a subtle lift, and don’t mind a more visible implant.
The second method is to place the implant beneath the pectoral muscle. Placing the implant completely beneath the pectorals is more common in reconstructive breast augmentation.
More commonly, surgeons place the top two-thirds of the implant beneath the pectoral muscle. The other third sits between the pectorals and the overlying breast tissue.
Most plastic surgeons prefer the second method. It provides a subtle breast lift and better symmetry. This placement method also results in a more natural-looking and long-lasting implant, though recovery will be more painful.
Inserting the Implant
The next step is to insert the implant through the incision into the pocket the surgeon created. The exact strategy your surgeon will use depends on the implant type.
For example, say you chose saline implants during your initial consultation. In that case, the surgeon will insert the implant shell. Once it is in place, the surgeon will fill the shell with saline.
Silicone implants are different. Your surgeon will insert these implants pre-filled. This reduces the risk of silicone leaking into the body, which may cause pain, tissue thickening, and breast shape changes.
Stitching the Incision
The last step in the breast augmentation procedure is to close up the incision. But first, the surgeon will check his work to ensure the implants are symmetrical.
Depending on the incision site, implant type, and breast size, your surgeon may use dissolvable stitches, glue, tape, or a combination of the three to close up the incision site.
Finally, the surgeon will dress your chest to protect the healing incision. The dressing and compression bra you receive post-op will also help reduce swelling and discomfort. You will then be moved to a recovery room until you wake up.
What to Expect After Breast Augmentation Surgery
We request that patients remain in the recovery room for at least 30 minutes or, ideally, an hour. The goal is to monitor you for adverse reactions to anesthesia or the operation.
The surgeon’s assistant will provide aftercare instructions while your anesthesia wears off. You will also schedule a follow-up visit for the next day. You’ll schedule additional follow-ups one week and three months post-surgery.
When the time is up, you can return home. Again, ensure you have transportation arranged. You can’t drive after breast augmentation surgery until the anesthesia wears off.
You may experience side effects like soreness, swelling, bruising, and discomfort. These symptoms should progressively lessen over the next nine months, though most people feel fully recovered within three months.
To help you understand what to expect during breast augmentation recovery, we are breaking down the most important stages. Keep reading to discover what happens 1 day, 23 days, and 16 weeks post-operation.
Recovery Day 1
Have someone stay with you for at least 24 hours after your procedure. Your doctor will prescribe narcotics to use for at least two days post-op. So you may need someone to drive you to your follow-up appointment.
Your first follow-up appointment is the time to talk to your surgeon about your pain levels. The surgeon will also change your dressing and check the incision site to ensure it is healing properly.
Recovery Days 23
Once you finish your prescription pain medication, you can drive independently. Many patients return to work as early as three days after their procedure.
If you work in a labor-intensive role, consider taking more time off. We recommend at least three weeks of recovery before returning to your job.
Recovery Week 16
You will return to your surgeon’s office one week after your procedure. The surgeon will recheck your incision site and ensure the stitches have dissolved properly. You will also learn how to reduce the appearance of incision site scars.
Your healing will progress over the next few weeks. But you must still avoid contact sports and heavy exertion for at least six weeks. You will also continue to wear your compression bra during this time.
Most people are fully healed three months post-operation. At this point, you will attend your final follow-up appointment and take your before and after pictures. Then, you are free to enjoy your new breasts!
Breast Augmentation FAQs
Dr. Deuber gets a ton of questions about breast augmentation surgery. Below, we rounded up three of the most common ones to help ease your mind before scheduling your consultation.
Is Breast Augmentation a Serious Surgery?
Yes, breast augmentation is a serious surgery. Though it is safer than ever, breast augmentation still comes with some risks. Rare but serious complications after breast augmentation procedures include:
- Infection at the surgical site
- Excessive bleeding
- Pain that progressively worsens
Rupture is also a possibility with all types of breast implants. The risk increases the longer you have the implant in place. Silicone implant ruptures present the risk of pain and breast shape changes.
There is anecdotal evidence of a condition dubbed breast implant illness. This condition features fatigue, mood changes, chest pain, and even hair loss. However, researchers don’t yet understand if and how breast implants cause these symptoms.
How Painful Is a Breast Augmentation?
Patients often rate breast augmentation a 3-5 out of 10 in terms of painfulness. The exact amount of pain you experience depends on the implant type and incision location.
Silicone implants may be slightly more painful than saline implants because the incision is larger. Similarly, implants placed beneath the pectoral muscle tend to be more painful.
Most people stop experiencing pain after two to three days. You will receive prescription pain medication for the time when pain is at its highest. After that, over-the-counter painkillers should suffice to alleviate discomfort.
How Long Does Breast Augmentation Last?
Breast implants can last up to 20 years with proper care. Silicone implants can last even longer, though they are also more likely to rupture. Some tips to make your implants last longer include:
- Only working with a high-quality surgeon
- Adhere to your surgeon’s post-op recommendations
- Schedule MRIs every two years to check for ruptures
Many women elect to have their implants removed earlier. Reasons range from wanting larger or smaller implants to giving birth (implants may interfere with breastfeeding).
Schedule a Breast Augmentation Consultation With Dr. Deuber
Breast augmentation is a serious procedure, but it doesn’t have to be scary when you know what to expect. We hope this guide has helped you understand what happens before, during, and after breast augmentation surgery.
Are you searching for a highly-qualified surgeon for your breast augmentation? Dr. Deuber is a Dallas-based surgeon offering 24-hour recovery breast augmentations. Contact Dr. Deuber to schedule your consultation.