Breast surgery – the do’s and don’ts to aid your recovery

Whilst a breast operation maybe a relatively straightforward procedure, it is still a strenuous time for the patient. The surgery will expend your energy levels and you will need lots of rest and downtime in order to assist in your recovery.  

We’ve put together a list of some do’s and don’ts so that you can avoid any issues that may hinder your healing journey. Of course your surgeon should also advise you on following these steps. 

What not to do when having breast surgery 

It won’t be long before you can get back to living your normal life after having breast surgery, however there are some things that you should avoid pre and post op, in order to ensure that you recover fully. 

Don’t smoke tobacco products 

Adequate blood flow to surgery wounds is essential for aiding the healing process. The nicotine and carbon monoxide found in tobacco products limits your blood flow and it could have devastating consequences for the results of your breast surgery. 

In the worst case scenario, tissue death can occur which could cause your nipples to become discoloured and eventually fall off. In order to have the lowest risk of complications related to smoking, it is advised that you quit smoking at least two months before the surgery  and at least one-month thereafter. 

Don’t do any heavy lifting

Try to avoid taking on any strenuous activities that require heavy lifting. Not only will it exert your energy levels, it could also cause pain and potentially damage your stitches and effect the final cosmetic result. It’s important to rest post-op and allow yourself time to heal. 

Don’t go swimming following breast surgery 

Swimming is also another major no-no when recovering from breast surgery, it is a strenuous exercise and you must be fully healed before exerting yourself. The water may also increase the risk of infection and potentially damage your stitches, so we would recommend avoiding swimming, bathtubs, jacuzzis and hot-tubs for at least 2-3 weeks. 

Don’t drink alcohol 

You should avoid drinking alcohol for at least a week leading up to your surgery and at least 2-3 weeks post-op. Alcohol thins the blood, which means excessive bleeding is more difficult to stop during the surgery. It will also hinder the healing process potentially leading to prolonged bleeding and/or infections. 

Alcohol will also reduce the effectiveness of the anaesthesia and make it more difficult for the anaesthetist to estimate the correct dosage. Both the surgeon and anaesthetist may refuse to perform the surgery if they suspect alcohol is in your system.

In addition to the in-surgery risks, alcohol is also very dangerous and potentially lethal when combined with painkillers or antibiotics, so it’s best to wait until you’re fully healed before indulging in an alcoholic beverage. 

What to do when recovering from breast surgery 

The following advice will help assist your healing journey when you are recovering from breast surgery. 

Do wear your compression bra following breast surgery 

Your compression bra is a specially designed bra that supports your breasts during their recovery. You should aim to wear it 24/7 for upto 6 weeks, following the breast surgery and only take it off to shower. 

Breast surgery 2
Young woman wearing a compressing bra after a breast enhancement surgery

Although it’s not of the Victoria Secret style, the compression bra helps keep your breasts in place so that they can heal in the desired position. Avoid wearing any bras that have an underwire in them as this can affect the delicate state that your breasts are in following the procedure. 

Do lie on your brack

If you have had a breast augmentation, your breast implants will need time to settle into place, you should avoid lying on your stomach or side in case this alters the final position of your breasts implants. For all types of breast surgery, it is recommended that you lie on your back when resting, as this will help avoid discomfort and ease pain.

Do eat a balanced diet

Your body will need an adequate supply of nutrients and calories in order to assist in the healing process. You should aim to incorporate lots of fruits, vegetables, proteins and healthy fats into your diet following the surgery. 

Do ask your surgeon any questions you may have

Having breast surgery is a unique procedure and one that not many patients are familiar with. You should ask your surgeon any questions that you may have leading up to the surgery and post-recovery. Your surgeon is there to help you and reassure you throughout the whole breast surgery procedure. 

Do take it easy

You might have booked some time off work following your procedure, but it’s not a time to get caught up with household chores, it is a time to rest and recover. Breast surgery is a major procedure and it will take its toll on your body. You need time to regain your strength and heal, you should avoid any exercise, strenuous activities and only pitter-patter around your home. 

It is also natural to feel some pain and discomfort following your procedure, you can manage that pain at home with prescribed painkillers or over-the-counter medication, your surgeon will advise you on the dosage you should take. 

Breast surgery recovery 

Recovering from breast surgery is a lengthy process and you must be patient with your healing journey. It is important to not overexert yourself and allow your body time to recover and regain your strength. Follow these do’s and don’ts for a smooth healing process so that you can enjoy your breast surgery results. 


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Breast surgery as any surgery is not without risk. These risks and the relative chance of them happening for you will differ dependent on the type of surgery you have and also personal risk factors. Risks of breast surgery can be early risks related to the surgery itself or longer term risks such as cosmetic changes related to ageing.

Infection and poor wound healing are a risk in all breast procedures whether it is for breast cancer or for cosmetic reasons. Cosmetic surgery has a lower risk of this but it is increased if you are a smoker or have other medical problems which may effect healing such as diabetes. Every breast procedure will have a long list of possible risks or complications however most of them can be quite rare.

Your surgeon will be able to guide you through the individual risks for your chosen procedure explaining about likelihood of occurrence and what that could mean for you if the complication occurs.

This can be a difficult question to answer. In the cosmetic setting your surgeon will listen to you about what you wish to achieve focusing on shape and volume. They will then examine and assess your chest frame to determine what range of implants are suitable for you to compliment your body shape without risk of long term poor cosmetic results.

Implants vary by brand, surface texture, volume and projection. The choices available within each of these categories can be extensive. The right implant for you will be based on a collaborative discussion between you and your surgeon to select the right implant, volume, shape and projection to be the best fit to meet your cosmetic needs.

Same day cosmetic surgery is generally very safe. Your surgeon will discuss with you specific risks which will be related to the surgery that is to be undertaken and the individual risks that may be more specific to you. This can often be related to any other medical conditions you have or if you are a smoker.

Following surgery you are observed for 2-4 hours afterwards to ensure you have recovered from the anaesthetic and there are no immediate post operative complications. If you are then deemed fit to be discharged you will be able to leave with further post operative instructions to guide you at home and also contact details should you experience any problems at home and need further medical advice. You will be required to have a responsible adult stay with you for the first night after surgery to be eligible to be discharged on the same day of your surgery.

The purpose of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery is different. Cosmetic surgery has a goal of improving the cosmetic appearance by complimenting and modifying the shape and/or size of your natural breasts. Reconstructive surgery is primarily considered for patients who may require or have a mastectomy(removal of all breast tissue). This can be for a number of reasons but primarily is for the treatment of breast cancer or risk reduction if patients have a gene defect making them much more at risk of developing breast cancer. Reconstructive surgery involves the recreating of a breast mound and shape. The cosmetic goals in reconstructive surgery can be quite different to cosmetic breast surgery due to the effects of cancer treatments and the loss of all breast tissue often preventing an optimal natural appearance to be achieved.

Both types of surgery can use implants and fat grafting but reconstructive surgery can also be undertaken by moving your own tissue from another area to recreate the breast.

If you are experiencing a breast symptom such as a new lump, skin or nipple change, nipple discharge, breast shape change, armpit lumps or breast/chest swelling in men then this clinic appointment will aim to address these and other breast symptoms. I will undertake a detailed assessment of the symptoms, screen for the need for genetic risk assessment and examine you. Based on this I will give you a clear explanation of that assessment.

I will inform you as to any diagnosis reached or the need for any imaging, which could be a breast ultrasound or mammogram to help reach that diagnosis. This may also be complimented by a tissue biopsy to confirm any diagnosis. Following any diagnosis I will discuss with you a plan of treatment or reassurance as necessary.

Breast symptoms are extremely common and can range from noticing a difference in the appearance or texture of your breasts to new lumps, nipple changes and breast pain. All breast symptoms should be reviewed by either your GP or a breast surgeon. However this does not mean to say that your symptom is likely to represent a worrying change such as cancer.

MOST breast symptoms are either the result of a normal variation in the tissues that comprise your breast or to a family of conditions that are collectively called benign breast disease. In my breast reassurance clinic I will be able to assess you and provide a diagnosis and explanation for your symptoms or if necessary, further assess the symptoms if a cancer is suspected. It is much more likely your breast symptoms are not due to breast cancer but please do be assessed for any new symptoms.

Choosing to have breast augmentation is a very personal decision. Your surgeon should guide you through this process. By doing this they should help you to decide firstly whether it is right for you and then guide you through your vision for the final look and how to achieve it. I always aim to really understand what the final desired appearance is wanted right up to the smallest detail. We discuss this based on the shape including cleavage, appearance in and out of clothes and then also volume. Following this discussion to achieve your look we may also discuss performing a small uplift as well as the use of implants.

I will always be honest about what can be expected and whether your vision of the final look is possible and responsible to achieve whilst respecting your body shape and frame. A library of my work will also be available for you to view. Beyond this it is also crucial that your surgeon discusses with you the potential risks of the surgery which should include short term and what may happen in the long term. With this entire discussion you will develop a rapport and relationship with your surgeon. You can then decide if that surgeon is the right one for you or not.

Breast augmentation surgery can be undertaken as a day case procedure. Hence you can go home the same day once you have had a period of observation after surgery. You will be fitted with a surgical bra and a binder which can be purchased by yourself or provided at the hospital. The binder provides gentle pressure from above the implants ensuring they remain in the optimal position whilst healing occurs. Please aim for about 4-6 weeks of recovery before getting back to anything strenuous such as the gym or long runs. If returning to work this can be done after 1-2 weeks but ensure you only undertake light manual labour activities.

I will ask you to wear the surgical bra as much each day and night as possible for 6 weeks to provide the best cosmetic result. Upon review during your recovery I will inform you as to when to remove the binder.



Breast Reassurance

Breast symptom assessment utilising the national standard of triple assessment (clinical hist...

Breast Cancer Care

Treatment of breast cancer including a full range of oncoplastic and breast reconstruction techniques.

Cosmetic Breast Surgery

Surgery to change the appearance of your breasts adjusting volume, shape and cleavage.