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Breast Augmentation Recovery: Is It Painful?

Recovery after breast augmentation involves some “manageable” pain for the first two to three days after plastic surgery. Pain is often relieved with pain management medication prescribed by the plastic surgeon. This article discusses what to expect in the post-op days and offers you helpful tips for speeding up the healing process.

Breast Augmentation Pain & Recovery Stages

Recovery after surgery is important to ensure optimal results, so breast augmentation candidates should be aware of what to expect during the healing process. In this article, we offer you an overview of what breast augmentation recovery may include.


bandaged breast

3 Days After Breast Augmentation

The first three days after breast implants surgery is when the patient feels the most pain.

The number one way to handle pain and relieve discomfort in the first days of recovery is narcotics. However, some plastic surgeons suggest pain injections or pain pumps instead of relying only on strong pain medication.

Pain pumps (Intrathecal Pump Implant) offer patients numbing medication directly at the source of pain. They look like a tiny balloon that “drips” through a catheter into the breast area. They stay in the breasts for about three days to alleviate intense pain and discomfort.

As for the pain injections (e.g., Exparel), these are injected into the implant pocket at the end of surgery and last up to 14 hours.

7 Days After Breast Augmentation

Strong pain medication, like narcotics, usually lasts up to seven days post-op, because their prolonged use may cause lethargy, constipation, or even extend the healing process. Once the patient starts feeling less pain, the use of strong anti-pain drugs should be discontinued. If the patient wants to continue taking pain medication after the seventh day, the doctor might recommend paracetamol or other light painkillers.

Yet, the feeling of pain is not the only issue for some patients. Cramping and tightness are also typical symptoms for breast implant patients, affecting the breast area, the back, neck, and shoulders. Muscle relaxants, such as Valium, might control these symptoms effectively. However, muscle relaxants should not be taken together with painkillers, as this drug combination may cause drowsiness and lethargy. Ask your doctor if you can take muscle relaxants an hour apart from painkillers intake.

In about a week after surgery, the patient can return to normal activities and desk-job. Intense workout should be avoided for at least three weeks after breast augmentation. Light exercise, like a few short walks during the day, would be a good idea for facilitating recovery.

The stages of breast augmentation recovery might be different from patient to patient. For this reason, it is important to follow your plastic surgeon’s recommendations which are tailored to your unique health and recovery requirements.

1 Month After Breast Augmentation

In the third week of the post-operative healing period, patients usually experience a significant improvement in their daily functioning, reaching about 50% of their normal activities. Although slight soreness and swelling may persist during the second, third, and fourth weeks following the surgery, the most challenging phase is generally behind you. It is essential to continue avoiding physically strenuous tasks, particularly those involving heavy lifting. For individuals with physically demanding jobs, it is advisable to plan for up to three weeks of leave.

3 Months After Breast Augmentation

At three months post-operative, the breasts should have achieved a pleasing shape and significant healing. Additional time may be needed for further softening and natural dropping of the implants. The swelling continues to subside, and the breasts become noticeably softer. Nipples should be centered or close to the desired position. Side rounding is generally good, but individual variations exist. Bottom rounding continues to improve. Surgical tape is no longer necessary, and “scarless scar” gel treatment can be initiated. Upper-body workouts and running are permitted, while heavy lifting should still be approached with caution. It is important to wear a properly fitted sports bra for adequate support.

6 Months After Breast Augmentation

By the six-month month, the breasts should have settled into an optimal position, and they will feel considerably softer to the touch. The definition of side and bottom rounding is more noticeable. If needed, the use of scarless scar gel on incisions can continue. For most patients, underwire bras are good to use at this stage, although a fitted support athletic bra is still recommended during high-impact activities.

9 Months After Breast Augmentation

At this stage, the breasts should have fully settled into position and taken on a natural-looking shape. The swelling has most likely subsided completely. Exercise is now unrestricted in terms of physical activity types but should still involve wearing well-fitted support bras. By nine months post-op, most patients have returned to their full pre-operative activities. It is crucial to stay in contact with your surgeon and inform them of any new developments or concerns.

12 Months After Breast Augmentation

Twelve months after the procedure, the recovery process is typically complete. Incisions continue to fade as time passes, although scarring will never disappear completely. At this stage, patients should enjoy the results of their surgery and feel confident in their new look. It is always wise to continue with a healthy diet and exercise regimen and take measures to ensure optimal health. Additionally, regular follow-up visits with your surgeon are essential for monitoring any changes in the breasts.

Overall, it is crucial to follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions to ensure successful surgery recovery. Doing so can help you achieve the results you desire in a timely manner with minimal complications.


When Does The Pain Stop After Breast Augmentation?

Most patients feel little to no pain at around two to three weeks after breast implants surgery. Some mild tenderness in the breast area may be present for a bit longer, though. However, in one month post-op, the patient should feel no pain or discomfort anymore.

Tips To Speed Your Recovery After Breast Augmentation

After breast augmentation, patients feel more confident and comfortable with their bodies. For the final results to be successful and recovery to run smoothly, here are the top 10 tips that all breast augmentation patients should follow:

  1. Apply the prescribed medication to the surgical incisions and keep them sterilized, as instructed by your doctor.
  2. Wear a comfortable, sports or lightly supportive bra to avoid incision inflammation or pain to your swollen breasts. Ask your doctor about when to go back to underwire bras.
  3. Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol during the healing time.
  4. Sleep on your back so that you won’t irritate the incisions or make your implants shift or droop.
  5. Avoid bathtub or swimming until your wounds have fully healed.
  6. Stay away from strenuous upper body exercise, like lifting weights.
  7. Take time to relax and allow your body to rebuild and repair.
  8. Wear loose, breathable clothing to prevent injury to the incision site and increase comfort.
  9. Consume nutritional and protein-rich foods to speed up your recovery.
  10. Listen to your body and consult your plastic surgeon if you feel unexpected pain.

Learn about Breastfeeding With Implants After Breast Augmentation Surgery.


Breast augmentation, like any surgical procedure, carries some potential risks and complications. It is essential to be aware of these possibilities and promptly address any concerns with your surgeon. Common complications may include:

  1. Scarring: While scarring is an inherent part of the healing process, proper care and adherence to post-operative instructions can help minimize its appearance.
  2. Swelling, Bruising, and Numbness: These are normal side effects of breast augmentation surgery and tend to subside over time. However, if these symptoms persist or worsen, it is crucial to consult your surgeon.
  3. Breast Pain: Some degree of discomfort or pain is expected during the initial days following surgery. Medication prescribed by your surgeon can help manage these symptoms effectively.
  4. Infection: Although rare, the infection can occur after breast augmentation surgery. Signs of infection include redness, warmth, increased pain or swelling in the breast area. If you experience these symptoms, contact your surgeon immediately.
  5. Changes in Nipple and Breast Sensation: Temporary changes in nipple or breast sensation are common after breast augmentation. In most cases, the sensation gradually returns to normal over time, but persistent alterations should be reported to your surgeon.
  6. Implant Position Changes: Occasionally, implants may shift slightly from their original placement. Notify your surgeon if you notice any significant changes in the position or appearance of your implants.
  7. Implant Leakage or Rupture: While rare, implant leakage or rupture can occur. If you suspect a rupture or notice changes in the size, shape, or firmness of your breasts, seek immediate medical attention.

When To Call The Doctor?

During the recovery period, it is crucial to pay attention to any unusual symptoms or complications and promptly inform your surgeon. Contact your surgeon immediately if you experience:

  • Redness, warmth, or increased pain or swelling in the breast area.
  • Shaking chills.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Drainage or oozing from your incisions.

Early detection and intervention can help prevent further complications and ensure a successful recovery.

Is It Necessary To Do Follow-Ups With Your Doctor?

Yes, it is vital to follow all post-operative instructions provided by your surgeon and attend follow-up appointments. Regular check-ups allow your surgeon to monitor your progress, address any concerns, and make adjustments if necessary. 

Follow-up visits also provide an opportunity to assess the healing process, evaluate implant placement, and discuss any long-term care instructions or recommendations. Adhering to these follow-ups is crucial for optimal healing, minimizing complications, and ensuring the best possible outcome.

My Breast Implants Hurt When I Sleep. Why?

It is common to experience pain and discomfort during the initial few days after breast augmentation surgery. However, this discomfort typically subsides quickly with the help of prescribed medications. The discomfort you feel when sleeping may result from muscle stiffness and the implants exerting pressure outward.

To reduce this sensation, it is recommended to wear your surgical support bra at night and gently massage the implants. These measures can provide relief and promote a night of more comfortable sleep. If the pain persists or worsens, consult your surgeon for further guidance.

Do I Need To Wear A Supportive Bra?

Wearing a supportive bra or compression garment is essential for optimal recovery after breast augmentation surgery. It is generally advised to wear a supportive bra 24/7 for several weeks following the procedure. This helps minimize swelling and provides crucial support to the breasts as they heal. The use of a well-fitted bra helps maintain proper implant positioning and enhances comfort during the recovery process. Consult your surgeon for specific recommendations on the type and duration of bra usage based on your individual case.


Make An Appointment With Breast Augmentation Plastic Surgeon Dr. Stavrou, in Nicosia, Greece & Malta

Experience the confidence of being in expert hands that will make you look and feel more beautiful than ever. Book an appointment with our experienced and board-certified plastic surgeon in Nicosia, Limassol, Athens and Malta, Dr. Stavrou. He will answer all your questions and concerns about breast augmentation plastic surgery, and ensure a safe and successful procedure.


Dr Stavrou is a board-certified and highly experienced plastic surgeon in Cyprus, Greece and Malta, with a keen interest in informing patients about the latest updates on reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgery.

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