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

How to prepare for your breast augmentation surgery

Once you have found a surgeon and know how much the operation will cost and what’s involved, you can then prepare.

Below we take a look at how you can prepare for your operation to help you achieve the best results possible:

  • How to prepare for your surgery in three steps:
  1. Try to get yourself in the best possible health
  2. Book time off work and get people to help you
  3. Pack your hospital bag

1. Try to get yourself in the best possible health before surgery

  • Before your operation you’ll need to have a BMI of below 30 to avoid serious complications with anaesthetic during surgery. Ideally your BMI should be within the healthy range of 18.5 to 25. Speak to your surgeon or GP if you’re concerned about your weight before your operation.
  • If you smoke, you’ll need to stop at least six weeks before the operation. This is to avoid complications such as infections or skin necrosis (when the skin tissue dies) during the healing process.
  • Stop taking any herbal medicine at least four weeks before your operation. Some herbal remedies increase the risk of bleeding, which can interfere with the healing process.
  • Stop taking any anti-inflammatory medication or aspirin at least 10 days before surgery.
  • You may need to stop taking other medication as well, so it’s important to talk to your surgeon beforehand about any medication you’re taking, whether it’s prescribed or over-the-counter.

2. Book time off, arrange for someone to pick you up and stay with you for a day after surgery

  • Book at least a week off work to recover from your surgery.
  • Arrange for a friend or family member to take you home from your operation. Bear in mind that you may need to stay overnight, depending on the time of your operation and how long the procedure takes.
  • Have a friend or family member stay with you for a day or so after surgery. You may need help to do simple tasks such as washing yourself, dressing yourself and preparing food.
  • Be aware of the potential complications of having breast augmentation surgery and know what to look out after the operation. Your surgeon will discuss this with you.

3. Pack your hospital bag

Pack a bag containing everything you need for your stay in hospital.

You can download a checklist here.

Hospital bag checklist

This pre-op checklist will help you ensure you have everything you need to feel comfortable after surgery:

  • A sports bra in your new breast size, to wear immediately after surgery
  • A loose front-fastening top, as it will be difficult to lift your arms above your head at first
  • Loose, elasticated trousers
  • Slippers and dressing gown
  • Books, magazine and tablet with charger
  • Wet wipes
  • Moisturiser and lip balm
  • Water bottle with a straw, so you can drink more easily when lying down
  • Snacks—you won’t be able to eat before your surgery so you’re likely to feel hungry afterward. You might also want to pack some crackers or ginger biscuits to help combat nausea. Anaesthetic can make some people feel nauseated.
  • If your surgeon recommends keeping you in hospital overnight, you’ll need to pack loose, comfortable PJs and overnight toiletries.

On the day of your operation it’s a good idea to wear something you feel comfortable in so you can be as relaxed as possible. You’ll be given a medical gown to wear before you enter theatre for your surgery.

Know what to expect on the day of your breast enlargement procedure

Below is an outline of what will happen on the day of your breast augmentation.

1. A specialist nurse will admit you to the clinic

The nurse will deal with any paperwork to admit you into hospital, before showing you to your private room. There you can change into a hospital gown.

Your room should have a secure locker so you can store your belongings in there. However, we recommend you leave any valuables at home. We may ask you to remove any jewellery (including piercings) before your surgery. You’ll also need to remove any glasses or contact lenses.

The nurse will then do your health checks, including blood pressure, to ensure you’re in good health.

Will I need a blood test before my breast augmentation surgery?

You might need a blood test, but this will be done as part of your pre-op assessment, usually a day or two before your surgery.

If you’re young and healthy, you probably won’t require a blood test.

2. You’ll meet your surgeon again

Your surgeon and an anaesthetist (ours is Dr Victoria Webster MBBS, FRCA) will come and speak to you about what the surgery involves and answer any questions you may have.

Your surgeon will ask you to sign a consent form to confirm you understand what will happen during the surgery and that you’re aware of the risks involved.

Your surgeon will then use a special pen to outline where they will make the incision on your breasts.

3. You’ll have general anaesthetic

A nurse will then take you to the anaesthetic room. Here the anaesthetist will ask you to lay on a bed before placing a cannula (a thin tube) in the back of your hand and administering general anaesthetic through it.

As the anaesthetic begins to work, you’ll fall asleep. This should happen within less than a minute and the anaesthetist will stay with you throughout your operation.

4. You’ll go into surgery

Your surgeon will:

  • sterilise your chest area with antiseptic to limit the risk of infection, before laying sterile drapes over your torso—this is so only the area the surgeon is operating on is visible
  • make an incision, through which your surgeon will insert the implants either under or above the chest muscle (depending on the type of surgery you’re having)
  • once the implants are in the correct place and look right, stitch up the incision then close the wound fully with surgical glue and surgical tape
  • bandage your chest or put you into your surgical bra

In most cases this type of surgery takes less than two hours.

5. You’ll wake up from your operation

Once surgery is complete, you’ll wake up in the recovery room. You’re likely to feel groggy, nauseated and sore but you’ll be given medication to help you cope with this.

After a couple of hours, you may feel up to eating. At this point you may only want to eat simple foods such as toast.

Many clinics will recommend you stay overnight but in some cases—for example, if your surgery is early in the morning—you can go home the same day.

How to ensure a comfortable recovery

Your surgeon will discuss the recovery process with you before the operation, so you should have a good idea of what to expect after your procedure.

Below are some tips to make the recovery process as smooth as possible:

  • You’re likely to feel tired for a few days after surgery. This is due to having general anaesthetic. Some patients report feeling emotional, tearful or having mood swings as side effects of general anaesthetic.
  • You’ll need to rest for at least a week after the surgery. Taking it easy will allow your body to recuperate properly.
  • Don’t do anything strenuous to begin with, particularly if it involves heavy lifting. Enlist help from friends or family, especially if you have small children.

Read more about pain and swelling after breast augmentation surgery here.

  • You’re likely to experience pain and swelling, particularly in the first few days after surgery. Your surgeon will prescribe you painkillers and give you advice on when to take these.
  • If you notice the wound swelling excessively or turning red, or if you experience flu-like symptoms, you should contact the clinic immediately as these could be signs of infection.
  • A few days after your surgery, you’ll have your dressings or elasticated bandages removed. You can then wear a surgical bra. However, some surgeons prefer their patients to wear a surgical bra, rather than bandages, straight after surgery.
  • Many women find that wearing a post-operative bra or sports bra for extra support helps the healing process and reduces swelling.

To find out more about how to take care of yourself after having breast augmentation, read our Aftercare FAQs.

Browse the Preparing for the Operation section of our Resource Centre for more information and advice to help you get ready for breast augmentation surgery.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact Stephen McCulley here.