Breast Enlargement: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

In breast enlargement surgery, the doctor makes the breasts larger by putting an implant under the breast tissue or under the chest muscle. An implant is a soft silicone shell filled with a saltwater solution or a gel. After the surgery you will probably feel weak. You may feel sore for 2 to 3 weeks and you'll likely have a lot of swelling. You may have a pulling or stretching feeling in your breast area. You can expect to feel better and stronger each day, although you may need pain medicine for a week or two. You may get tired easily or have less energy than usual. This may last for several weeks after surgery.

Most stitches are removed in 5 to 10 days.

Your new breasts may feel firmer and look rounder. The skin on your breasts may be numb. It should get better with time. You may have some permanent loss of feeling in the nipple area.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • For about 2 to 3 weeks, avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, a vacuum cleaner, or a child. Do not lift anything over your head for 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.
  • You can take your first shower the day after surgery if you do not have a drain near your incision. If you have a drain, you can shower the day after it is removed. This is usually in a few days. Do not take a bath or soak in a hot tub for about 4 weeks.
  • You will probably be able to go back to work or your normal routine in 1 to 2 weeks. This depends on the type of work you do and any further treatment.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
  • You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. Take a fibre supplement. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, take a mild laxative.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
  • If you were given medicine for nausea, take it as directed.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.

Incision care

  • If your doctor gave you specific instructions on how to care for your incision, follow those instructions.
  • You may be wearing a special bra that holds your bandages in place after the surgery. Your doctor will tell you when you can stop wearing the bra. Your doctor may want you to wear the bra at night as well as during the day for several weeks.
  • Ask your doctor when it is okay to wear an underwire bra. Consider buying a larger bra. Your old bra will be too small and can put too much pressure on the healing incision.
  • If you have strips of tape on your incision, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off. Or follow your doctor's instructions for removing the tape.
  • Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
  • Keep the area clean and dry.

Exercise

  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Your doctor will tell you when to begin stretching exercises and normal activities.

Ice

  • Put ice or a cold pack over your breast for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

Other instructions

  • You may have one or more drains near your incision. Your doctor will tell you how to take care of them.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe pain in your breast area.
  • You have fluid under the skin or a lot of swelling at the surgery site.
  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot keep fluids down.
  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
  • You bleed through a large bandage over the incision.
  • You develop a cough.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • You have signs of a blood clot, such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your breast with an implant gets hard or painful, or the shape changes.
  • You do not have a bowel movement after taking a laxative or using a suppository.
  • You feel anxious or depressed or have trouble sleeping.
  • You are not getting better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: February 5, 2016