Having breast surgery can be a major procedure and it will take its toll on your body. You should allow for adequate healing time following the surgery and be patient with yourself. There are some things that you should anticipate following breast surgery and we have provided some advice on how you can best prepare for your recovery process.
You will be sore and tender post breast surgery
In the initial few weeks following your breast surgery, your breasts will be sore and tender. Everyday activities such as walking, bending over and general movements, may cause some pain and discomfort, so it is important that you take it easy.
You can prepare for managing this pain by asking your surgeon about pain medication. They will either prescribe pain relief or recommend an over-the-counter solution. It can take around 8-10 weeks for bruising and swelling to go away but do try to be patient as every individual’s recovery journey is different.
You will have stitches following the initial breast surgery
It is standard procedure to have stitches following the breast surgery, they will be located where the scar is under the skin. The stitches are usually absorbable. It is important to keep your scar fully dry in order to reduce the risk of infection.
The scar is usually covered with a waterproof dressing or binder, following the initial surgery. These dressings should be kept on for 7-10 days post op and only removed by your surgeon at your follow up appointment.
Your scar may also itch whilst it is healing, resist the urge to scratch or rub it as this may cause damage to the wound and hinder your healing process.
You will feel tired after your breast surgery
Healing takes a lot of energy from you, especially following a major surgery. Be prepared for feeling lethargic and set aside time for some rest and recuperation. Many patients in their initial few days of recovery, will spend the time resting in bed or lounging around the sofa. This is ok and exactly what you should be doing.
Ideally you should rest for 2-3 weeks before you can return to work and resume everyday activities though your surgeon will advise further based on your personal circumstance. Be patient with your body’s response to healing and take the time you need to make a full recovery.
Your results will change post breast surgery
The initial results following your breast surgery will change as you recover and you should anticipate that you won’t see the final results until 2 – 3 months following the procedure. It takes time for the swelling to reduce and for your breasts to fully heal.
Also, if you have had a breast augmentation, it will take some time for the implants to fully settle into place. Following the initial surgery the implants may feel disportionate, uneven or misplaced, but try not to worry too much in this stage as you cannot evaluate the outcome of the surgery until you are fully healed.
Watch out for signs of infection after your breast surgery
As with any surgery, there is a risk of an infection developing. You can avoid the risk of infection by keeping your bandages dry, avoiding smoking and avoiding drinking alcohol.
However if an infection does develop, you should be aware of the symptoms so that it can be treated early. The symptoms of an infection following breast surgery may include:
- Tender feeling around the wounds.
- Swollen area around the breasts.
- Breasts are warm to touch.
- Redness around the area.
- Fluid / discharge from the wound.
- Feeling unwell.
- Raised temperature.
Whilst some of these symptoms are to be expected following breast surgery, they can also indicate signs of an infection. If you suspect an infection, you should contact your surgeon immediately.
Things to avoid in post breast surgery recovery
It will take some time to return to normal life activities whilst you are recovering from breast surgery. The following activities should be avoided:
Smoking may increase the risk of tissue death, you should avoid smoking at least two months before the surgery and at least one-month post op.
You should wait at least 2 weeks before making a short-haul flight and at least 6 weeks before flying long-haul.
Alcohol thins the blood and may hinder your recovery time. Avoid drinking alcohol for at least a week leading up to your surgery and at least 2-3 weeks post-op.
Swimming or bathing
Increased exposure to water may increase the risk of infection. It is best to wait at least 2-3 weeks before swimming or immersing yourself into a bath.
Lying on your stomach
For some people it may be entirely natural to lie on your stomach, but you cannot lie this way following breast surgery as it may distort the results. Ideally, wait 3-4 weeks before laying on your stomach.
Post breast surgery – aftercare is everything!
Breast surgery does not end on the operating table and for the best results the correct aftercare is vital. Prepare yourself for your healing journey and be patient with your recovery process.If you are concerned about your results, always contact your surgeon as they will be able to give you the best advice for your individual healing journey.
If you’re thinking about having breast surgery, you can find out more information about the procedure by booking a consultation with Dr. Seni here.