Stephen McCulley, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon. MBChb, FCS(SA)Plast, FRCS(plast)

Breast Augmentation Surgery Aftercare FAQs

How long will it take to recover from breast augmentation surgery?

You should be able to resume normal day-to-day activities four days after surgery, but avoid heavy lifting and exercise. You will want to take at least two weeks off work, though you could return earlier if you have a desk job.

Avoid exercise using the arms or chest for around six weeks. After this time, it’s normally safe to return to your pre-surgery routine, but it’s best to keep the scars out of direct sunlight for a year.

To find out more about recovery, go to our section titled: What To Expect From Recovery.

What aftercare do you recommend?

Your specific aftercare needs will vary depending on the type of surgery you have. For more information on aftercare, visit the sections of the website titled: Aftercare and also the What to Expect in Recovery section of our Resource Centre.

How will I manage the pain?

After two to three days, you will likely have recovered to the point where you only need a little pain medication. Up until this time, there are a number of methods you can use to control the pain.

You can inject local anaesthetic into the affected area, or administer it via a ‘pain pump’. You can also use muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory drugs alongside narcotic pain medication.

After this point, you can simply use over-the-counter pain medication as and when required. For more tips on managing pain after surgery, visit the pages Aftercare and What to Expect in Recovery.

Will I need to take antibiotics after surgery?

Infection resulting from breast implant surgery is rare, but can lead to you having your implants removed so your body can heal properly.

To reduce this risk, we give you antibiotics at the time of surgery but rarely afterwards as there is no evidence they help following a procedure.

Will my wounds bleed after surgery?

You shouldn’t experience any bleeding from the scar after surgery. If you do notice some blood, this may be due to an infection, in which case you should consult your surgeon as soon as possible.

For more information about possible issues following surgery, go to our section titled: Potential Complications.

Is there any activity I should avoid?

No, breast implants are very hard to damage. Short of repeated blows to the chest, any sport or activity should be fine once you have recovered from the surgery.

Can breast implants cause stretch marks?

If the size of the implant you choose is incorrect for your body shape, it can cause stretch marks. The best way to avoid this is to speak with your surgeon beforehand—they will give you all the information you need to choose the most appropriate size.

What follow-ups will I have?

You will be seen by Stephen McCulley the following morning and then by his team after a week, or more regularly if needed. You will see Stephen McCulley again after three months.

What if I lose or gain weight after breast implant surgery?

It’s recommended that you reach a stable weight before the procedure. This is because any weight you lose afterwards can affect the way your breasts look—there is a chance that your breast will appear to drop or reduce in size after weight loss.

You can read more about breast augmentation and weight here.

How can I reduce scarring after breast augmentation surgery?

Your choice of surgeon is likely to be the most important decision you will make regarding your surgery, especially when it comes to reducing scarring. An experienced, specialist surgeon will ensure the position of the incision is as small and well-placed as possible and therefore cause the least amount of scarring.

After your surgery, caring for your wounds properly will help to minimise scarring. You can read a detailed guide to reducing scars after breast surgery here.

Once your wounds have healed, you can gently massage the scar tissue to help keep the area supple which can help to minimise scarring. You can read an illustrated guide to massaging scar tissue after breast surgery here.

What are the different recovery stages after breast enlargement surgery?

Below is a general guide to the different stages of recovery post-surgery, it is important to note that every patient is different and you will be given personalised recovery advice after your surgery.

  • Week 1 – You may need to stay in hospital overnight. Once discharged, you will need to rest for at least 24-48 hours, during this time it is advisable to have someone to stay with you to help with every-day tasks. You are likely to experience some discomfort and swelling, as well as bruising around the breasts. After the first couple of days you will be able to take gentle exercise – such as walking – and also have a shower. You may need to take medication to control any pain you experience.
  • Week 2 – You will be able to gradually resume normal daily activities. You may no longer need pain medication. You will be able to return to work at this point, unless your job is particularly physical – if this is the case then you will need to speak to your surgeon. You should be able to return to driving at this point. In most cases, you will be able to start a gentle scar massage routine to aid healing.
  • Week 3 – If your wounds have healed and your surgeon has agreed then you will be able to increase the amount of activity, including more vigorous exercise.
  • Week 4 – You should be able to remove your surgical or sports bra for sleeping and increase physical activity at a rate that you feel comfortable with.
  • Week 6 – You should be able to return to your pre-operation activities at this point.

What should you eat after breast implant surgery?

Anaesthetic used during major surgery can often make people feel nauseous, so you may only feel like eating simple foods – such as toast or soup – at first. Once you are feeling up to it, a nutritious diet containing plenty of vitamins, proteins and fibre to aid muscle recovery and help prevent constipation would be advisable. 

As with any surgery, you should try to drink plenty of water after your procedure. Proper hydration will help to avoid potential post-surgery complications such as infections and constipation.

What type of bra should I wear post-surgery?

You should wear a comfortable bra that provides plenty of support and doesn’t include wires. Often a soft sports bra is the best choice. Some patients choose sports bras that fasten at the front as this makes it easier to take the bra on and off.

If you are unsure whether a particular bra is right for you, ask your surgeon to take a look at it and give their expert advice.

You can find more advice on choosing the right cup size for your enlargement and how to choose the right bra by reading our comprehensive guide here.

How soon can I exercise after surgery?

You will be advised to avoid all strenuous exercise for at least one month after surgery. After this time you will be able to gradually resume your regular exercise routine. It’s important to note that you should avoid contact sport or exercises that focus on the chest area (such as push ups) for at least eight weeks.

Swimming should also be avoided for at least two weeks post-surgery to avoid the wounds being submerged which may cause complications with healing.

Gentle exercise – such as short walks – is advisable as soon as you feel up to it after surgery as it will help keep your circulation flowing.

How soon after surgery can I have a shower or bath?

In most cases you will be able to have a shower almost immediately. Stephen McCulley uses a special type of glue to seal and cover breast surgery wounds, which enables patients to have a shower soon after surgery. Bear in mind, it may be uncomfortable to raise your arms or make certain movements in the first few days after surgery, so you may require assistance to shower initially.

You will need to wait at least 2 weeks before having a bath as submerging the wounds may cause the tissue to soften which could potentially reopen the wounds and lead to complications.

Will I need to sleep sitting up?

Yes, it’s advisable to sleep on your back in an inclined position for the first few weeks after breast augmentation surgery. Sleeping in this position will help your implants settle into place and help prevent excessive swelling during the recovery period. If you struggle to sleep in this position then speak to your surgeon about how soon you can sleep flat on your back or on your side. You will usually have to avoid sleeping on your front for at least 8 weeks post-surgery.

Should I massage my breasts after augmentation surgery?

Yes, gentle massage will help prevent the build-up of collagen around the scar and will keep the scar supple. Massage can also reduce the itchiness often associated with scarring.

You can find out how to properly massage your breasts after augmentation surgery with this guide.

How soon can I sunbathe after having surgery?

UV rays from the sun or sunbeds can permanently darken scars. Use a strong sunblock or cover your scars in the sun for the first 6-12 months after surgery.

How soon can I drive after breast implant surgery?

You should wait until you’re fully free of pain and have a full range of movement before driving.

How long will I have to wear a surgical bra for after breast augmentation?

Every surgery and every patient is different so you will be given advice specific to your situation. However, in most cases, it’s recommended to wear a comfortable sports bra or surgical bra day and night for at least 4 weeks after the operation.

When can I go braless after a breast augmentation?

You will be given individual advice after your operation on when you can go braless. As general guidance, it’s recommended to wear a bra continuously for the first month after surgery. After this time, you can go braless but it’s important to note that the increase in breast volume may lead to sagging if you don’t wear a bra for extended periods of time.

Wearing a correctly fitted bra will help to minimise the risk of sagging post-operation.

What can I expect after breast augmentation?

There are detailed instructions and guidance on what to expect after breast augmentation surgery here. You can also read our comprehensive guide to breast enlargement here.

How is the aftercare for a breast lift different to a breast enlargement?

In general, the aftercare for a breast lift and an enlargement are the same. Speak to your surgeon about any specific aftercare tips they may have for breast lift surgery.

How long after breast augmentation can I fly?

You should wait at least 10 days before flying short haul. If you’re planning on taking a long haul flight after breast augmentation then discuss this with your surgeon before surgery so they can advise you on how to minimise the risks.

If you’re planning to have surgery abroad then bear in mind you may need to stay in the country for 10 days before flying home.

If you fly soon after having surgery then you may be at a higher risk of blood clots. If you do choose to fly then wear the correct compression garments (your surgeon can advise you on these) and move around as much as possible during the flight.

How long can you not lift after breast augmentation?

You should avoid heavy lifting for around six weeks after surgery. This is to minimise the risk of bleeding around the implants.

If you have small children at home who are likely to need lifting, then speak to your surgeon about precautions you can take to minimise the risk of complications from lifting.

When can I swim after breast augmentation?

You will need to wait until your wounds are fully healed before you can go swimming. Your wounds should be healed about two weeks after surgery, however, it may take longer than this for you to feel physically up to exercising.

Can I drink coffee after breast augmentation?

Yes, you can drink coffee as soon as you feel up to it post-surgery.

Further Resources

You can find out more about what is involved in breast augmentation with our breast enlargement FAQs and our comprehensive guide to breast enlargement.

Stephen McCulley shares his detailed advice, including aftercare tips here.

You can view an illustrated guide to what breast surgery scars look like here.