Swelling is a normal part of the body’s healing process and is therefore one of the most common side effects after breast augmentation. Keep in mind that swelling can temporarily hide your developing results, so don’t worry if your new implants don’t look exactly like you’d hoped right after surgery. Knowing what to expect in terms of swelling and the overall recovery process before your breast augmentation can help you to mentally and physically prepare for your upcoming procedure.
Here, we explain how long swelling typically lasts, what you can do to reduce swelling and when post-surgery swelling might be cause for concern.
How Long Does Swelling Last after Breast Augmentation?
It can take three to six months for all residual swelling to completely diminish after getting breast implants, revealing your full results. However, you should begin to notice small improvements in swelling as soon as a few days after breast augmentation. More significant reductions in swelling are typically noticeable around the three-week mark, and the majority of swelling is usually gone by six weeks post-surgery.
Breast Augmentation Recovery Timeline
While everyone will recover at their own pace following breast enhancement surgery, this general timeline can give you an idea of what to expect at every stage of your breast augmentation recovery.
- Week 1: Most swelling, tightness and discomfort are noticeable in the first three days. Take the first week of recovery to focus on resting.
- Weeks 2 to 3: By week two, you should be feeling better and up to going back to work and resuming light activity, though tightness, firmness and mild swelling are still present.
- Weeks 4 to 5: Swelling should be greatly diminished by weeks 4 and 5, and you should be able to gradually increase exercise.
- Week 6 and beyond: Most swelling should be gone by week six and your implants should gradually soften and fill out. By the three-month mark, you should have a good idea of what your final results will look like.
How to Reduce Breast Augmentation Swelling
Swelling is a natural part of healing and therefore cannot be avoided altogether. However, there are some steps you can take to help reduce swelling more quickly as your body recovers after breast augmentation.
Follow Your Plastic Surgeon’s Guidelines
The number-one way to help ensure a smooth recovery and reduce swelling and other symptoms as quickly as possible is to follow your plastic surgeon’s recovery guidelines as closely as you can. These may include special breast massage techniques to reduce swelling, reduced physical activity, dietary recommendations and lifestyle adjustments such as avoiding smoking and alcohol.
Maintain all scheduled follow-up appointments to check on your progress, and don’t hesitate to contact your plastic surgeon if you have any questions or concerns in the meantime.
Wear a Compression Garment
Your plastic surgeon will likely recommend wearing a special surgical bra for the first 2 to 4 weeks after your procedure. This garment will offer comfortable support and slight compression to reduce fluid buildup and swelling and the risk of complications such as blood clots. Compression garments also help to keep breast implants in the correct position during the initial recovery period, improving your final result.
Apply Ice Packs
Icing reduces swelling and inflammation by constricting blood vessels. Gently apply an ice pack covered by a towel or other soft cloth so that the cold surface is not directly against your skin. Never apply ice for longer than 20 minutes at a time.
Elevate Your Upper Body
Keeping your upper body elevated as you recover from breast enhancement can reduce swelling by preventing fluid pooling in the breast pocket. Many women find it comfortable to sleep in a recliner for the first few nights, or you can prop yourself up on pillows in bed.
Eat a Low-Salt Diet
Salt causes your body to retain water, which is exactly what we want to avoid when trying to reduce swelling. Thus, avoiding salty foods while recovering can help to minimize water retention and swelling. Additionally, staying hydrated helps to reduce fluid retention, as your body does not need to hold onto excess fluids when it is getting enough water.
Are Swollen Breasts After Augmentation Ever a Medical Concern?
In most cases, swollen breasts after breast enhancement surgery are normal and nothing to worry about. However, very uneven swelling, excruciating or sudden pain or discharge or bleeding at incision sites can be signs of potential complications. If you experience any of these symptoms, promptly contact your plastic surgeon.
Dr. David Kaufman earned a bachelor of science degree from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, graduating with distinction, the highest academic honor. As an active duty naval special warfare officer, he served our nation for four years, including duty in Operation Desert Storm. He then attended Harvard Medical School, receiving his medical doctor degree in 1996. From there, he entered and completed postdoctoral surgical training in a combined general and plastic surgery residency at Stanford University Medical Center.
A board-certified plastic surgeon and member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Kaufman’s diverse surgical experience and skill enables him to choose procedures and techniques to best suit each patient. Consider him and his practice, Kaufman Plastic Surgery, if you are looking for a plastic surgeon in the Sacramento area.