Post-Op Routine To Minimize Discomfort After Breast Augmentation

One of the most common questions and concerns, before having a breast augmentation, is how to deal with pain after a breast augmentation.

Of course, there is no one correct answer, since every woman is different. However, understanding where the discomfort is coming from can help you understand what steps you can take to minimize it.

What Causes Pain after a Breast Augmentation?

Amazingly, the incision is rarely the cause of the pain. This is very surprising to me. If someone were to cut your breasts, it would, of course, be painful. However, in almost all cases, women tell me the cause of discomfort comes from a very tight or swollen feeling. They often tell me it hurts to take a deep breath or they feel pain when they go from lying down to sitting up. 

The cause of the pain is the chest muscle being stretched over the implant. (I almost always place my breast implants under the muscle). Pre-breast augmentation, the chest muscles (the pectoralis) sit on the rib cage. After surgery, they are stretched over the implants, as are the intercostal nerves. I’m always surprised to see that the size of the implants seems to have very little connection with the amount of discomfort felt. I frequently use the analogy of suddenly becoming 9 months pregnant in one hour. If that happened, of course, your stomach muscles would be sore!

How to Deal With Breast Augmentation Pain

  • The good news is that since we know what is causing the discomfort, I have a post-op routine that can minimize the discomfort. I recommend that as early as the time your drive home from the Surgicenter, you begin to fully stretch your chest and shoulders (I go over how to do this at your pre-op visit). I strongly recommend that you do this every hour that you are awake, for the next several days. 
  • I recommend that you wear a comfortable sports bra, since this will hold your implants against your chest wall, and will not cause extra stretching to the chest muscles. 
  • Some women find ice packs to their upper chest helpful and others find it just makes them cold. This is very much an individual choice. 
  • I ask all of my patients to take a shower the evening following their surgery. This always makes a person feel much better. 
  • I strongly recommend that you balance being up and walking around, both in and out of the house, with resting up more than usual. 
  • I give my patients both a stronger pain-killer (a narcotic) and a much milder one (usually Celebrex) since many women need few or none of the narcotics. Almost all of my breast augmentation patients have returned to work by day 5, sometimes even sooner. 

My favorite story is that I did a breast augmentation on a good friend of mine, who is an excellent triathlete. She did a half Ironman (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride, and 13-mile run) 5-6 weeks after her breast augmentation!!

I find that with the above routine, almost all women will find their breast augmentation experience much easier than they expect, though they should definitely not expect to do a half Ironman, 5 weeks later.