This Article Has Been Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Jennifer Emmett, M.D.

Home Breast Augmentation 5 Tips to Help Reduce Swelling and Bruising After Breast Augmentation Surgery

May 12, 2021

Immediately following your breast augmentation surgery, it’s important to focus on your healing and allow yourself time to recover. 

You will be prescribed pain medicine to manage the tenderness, aching, and pain following the surgery as the skin around your breasts, chest, and underarms will likely feel tender, bruised, and be in an inflamed, healing state.

To support your healing process, we’ve come up with 5 tips to aid your recovery and reduce swelling and bruising following your breast augmentation surgery.

The Different Types of Implants

Emmett Plastic Surgery uses two common types of implants — silicone and saline.

Each type of implant has its advantages and disadvantages depending on your breast augmentation goals.

For instance, saline implants require smaller incisions because the implant can be inserted while it’s empty, and then gets filled with sterile salt water once it’s inside the breasts. 

Whereas, silicone implants require a larger incision to insert the full implant inside the breast. Because the full silicone implant is inserted, the incisions will be wider and leave more scarring, which is something for patients to consider before choosing the right implant type

Each implant type has different age restrictions set forth by the FDA — saline implants are approved for people 18 and older, whereas silicone implants are approved for adults older than 22 years old. 

Anecdotally, it is said that silicone implants more closely resemble natural breast tissue than saline, however, they often are more expensive than saline.

If you are unsure of which implant type to pick, bring this up during your initial consultation with Dr. Emmett and she will advise you on the best operative plan to meet your breast enhancement goals.

Signs of a Breast Implant Rupture

Both implant types, silicone and saline, are designed to minimize any harmful effects of an implant rupture. 

If a saline implant gets ruptured and leaks, the safe saline solution will get reabsorbed into the breast tissue. 

Silicone implants are solid and form stable to prevent leakage during the event of a rupture. These new implant types are called “gummy bear” implants because the silicone gel’s consistency is similar to the gummy bear candy. These silicone implants have a highly cohesive gel that sticks to itself in the case of rupture.

The benefit of saline implants is that if they are ruptured, you will notice it very quickly. Once the implant has ruptured and the saline is absorbed into your breast tissue, you will notice deflation in your breast. It usually takes a couple days after a saline rupture to notice your breast size change.

Silicone implants are harder to detect once they’ve been ruptured. Because the silicone gel is self-contained and a self-adhesive, it will not absorb into your breast tissue or cause a noticeable breast deflation. Because of this, silicon ruptures are considered “silent ruptures.”

The signs and symptoms to look out for if you suspect your silicone implant has ruptured include:

  • Pain or tenderness near the implant site
  • Changes in shape, such as unevenness or decreased volume
  • Lumps and rippling in or around the breast

If you think you may have ruptured one of your breast implants, contact your plastic surgeon immediately to remove the implant and correct the procedure. While saline implants safely absorb their liquid in your body, the outer lining of the implant is made of silicone that will need to be removed and replaced as soon as possible.

Ways to Prevent Complications 

At Emmett Plastic Surgery, we strongly encourage all breast enhancement patients to be fully candid and upfront about their health and breast enhancement goals during their consultation

Evaluating the patient’s health and family health history is a crucial step in minimizing the risks and complications.

The first step is for interested patients to educate themselves on the procedure to make sure they are mentally and psychologically ready to receive a breast augmentation enhancement procedure.

Women who are already in good physical health free from infections, heart disease, and cancers make for great candidates to receive this surgery.

Because breast augmentation requires a lengthy recovery time (around 6-8 weeks) patients should require the appropriate time off work ahead of time so they can focus on recovery. It’s advised to take the first week off immediately following surgery, as this time will have the most bruising and swelling.

Make sure to follow Dr. Emmett’s recovery recommendations, including wearing a post-op bra, taking your pain medication, and avoiding placing any stress on your stitches.

Patients are advised to avoid smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol at least a week prior to surgery, and abstaining throughout the recovery period, as smoking and alcohol can negatively affect the healing process. 

Avoid taking blood thinners such as Advil and Aleve two weeks before surgery. This is recommended for any major surgery to prevent excessive bleeding during the procedure.

Arrange to have a close friend or partner who can help you during the first few days immediately following surgery. Because of the pain and swelling from your incisions, you will be unable to lift heavy objects or stretch your arms far. Make sure to have somebody nearby who can help get you food and water and make your recovery more relaxing and healing. Avoid doing too much by yourself so your body can fully heal properly.

What to Look for in a Plastic Surgeon 

Besides being healthy enough for breast augmentation surgery, the most important thing you can do to ensure a great recovery is to find a qualified plastic surgeon.

Make sure your plastic surgeon is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and has several years of experience performing plastic surgery. 

Take a look at the plastic surgeon’s reviews and testimonials, not just on their website, but on other review sites, like Google, Yelp, and Healthgrades to see unbiased opinions from people who have received breast enhancement surgery.

Another step would be to look through the plastic surgeon’s website to view before and after photos, as you can quickly evaluate your plastic surgeon’s skill and aesthetic sense. Try to find photos of patients whose body and breast types are similar to yours to get an idea of what to expect.

Visit the plastic surgeon’s office and schedule a one-on-one consultation. These consultations are a great way to “interview” your prospective surgeon to see if they’re a match for your breast enhancement goals.

A great plastic surgeon will not only have the technical skills to achieve your goals but should have an excellent bedside manner to put you at ease and make you comfortable before surgery. If you feel a plastic surgeon is being too pushy or aggressive, do not work with them, and look for another surgeon with who you feel comfortable working with.

What are Normal Pains and Feelings to Have After Surgery?

During and immediately after your surgery, you will feel no pain due to the anesthesia used. As the general anesthesia wears off, you will feel achiness and tenderness in your breasts.

You will also notice a weight change in your breasts, as you become used to the new sensations of the breast implants. 

The first week of recovery will be the most uncomfortable. But after the first week, the pain and discomfort will greatly subside. From this point, you’ll likely experience mild discomfort and tenderness for a few weeks. 

After a month, all discomfort should be gone, and at this point, you can begin resuming more activities. However, wait at least six to eight weeks before resuming strenuous activity or lifting heavy objects.

Tips and Tricks for Reducing Swelling and Bruising

Your first two weeks of recovery are the most important. Bruising will naturally result from injured blood vessels caused by your surgery, resulting in dark red, blue, or black skin. Swelling will occur as your body’s inflammatory response, sending more fluid and blood to areas that need healing. However, within a couple of weeks, bruising and swelling will be greatly reduced.

Here are five tips to reduce your swelling and bruising immediately after and during your recovery period.

#1 Wear a Post-Op Surgical Bra

After your surgery, you will be advised to wear a post-op surgical bra. 

Surgical bras closely resemble sports bras over the traditional bra, as they aren’t underwired.

They offer compression support to help reduce chest, breast, and underarm swelling and inflammation. This reduces the chance of infection after surgery and helps the implants settle into place safely.

Also, you can use an ice pack to apply to your sore breast tissue to further reduce swelling. Just remember not to place the ice pack directly on your skin.

#2 Don’t Lift Anything Over Your Head for Two Weeks

Because your breasts and surrounding skin are inflamed, you should avoid any movements that place unnecessary strain on this area. Allow your incisions to heal before placing stress or excessive stretching or lifting.

Breast augmentations are usually either subglandular, under the breast tissue, or submuscular, under the breast muscle. Recovery time will take a bit longer if your implant was placed under your muscle.

Washing and drying your hair, putting on shirts, or reaching for things will also require some assistance from a friend or a partner. It’s important not to strain yourself during this time. 

#3 Drink Lots of Water

Staying hydrated is important for healthy skin, especially after surgery. Remember, your skin is your body’s largest organ, and it requires a good amount of water to keep its elasticity and to heal itself.

Six to eight glasses of water are recommended daily as a general rule. And consider taking a multivitamin or collagen supplement to help your skin’s elasticity improve more quickly.

#4 Take it Easy for at Least Two Weeks

The full recovery for your breast augmentation will last anywhere from six to eight weeks. 

You should take it as easy as possible during your first two weeks. Absolutely no strenuous exercise or weight lifting. However, you are encouraged to take light walks, as exercise improves circulation, which has a healing effect.

After the first two weeks, you can start to increase your exercise to more moderate walking or light stationary cycling, but no jogging. You don’t want to do any sort of exercise that can cause your implants to shift before they’re fully healed. Don’t feel the need to push your exercise intensity prematurely, continue to take it easy until you feel ready.

After six weeks to eight weeks, your recovery should be finished and you can begin to resume strenuous activities like running or weight lifting.

#5 Sleep in an Upright Position

For the first week, and possibly up to two weeks, you should sleep in an upright position. Sleeping upright will use gravity to pull the excess fluids away from your breast area to reduce swelling. 

If you’re not used to side sleeping, it might take some getting used to, but it’s crucial for reducing fluid accumulation and placing unnecessary strain on your breasts. And definitely avoid sleeping on your stomach.

Find yourself a wedge pillow that can comfortably lift your upper body away from your bed. Wedge pillows also allow you to get out of bed easier, which will reduce pain and stress on your healing tissue. 

How Long Does it Take to Recover?

A fully healed recovery usually occurs after at least six to eight weeks after surgery.

Many women start to feel much better after the first few weeks of surgery, but should still take it easy until recovery’s completion.

After you’ve finished recovering, your breast implants will still be settling into place. It can take several months for your breast implants to realize their full potential. However, you can go back to living your life as before, knowing you’re healthy and fully recovered. 

Questions to Ask During the Consultation

Breast augmentation isn’t a one-size-fits-all operation. Dr. Emmett will talk to you during your consultation to come up with an operative plan that meets your goals and expectations and takes your health history into consideration.

Here are some questions you should ask during your consultation:

  • Should I get silicone or saline implants?
  • What will my scarring look like? How long does it take for scars to heal?
  • What complications could arise during or after surgery?
  • What incision site is recommended for me?
  • What implant size would be most suitable for my body?
  • How long will it take for my implants to fully settle?
  • Am I healthy enough for surgery?

Schedule Your Private Consultation Today

Dr. Jennifer Emmett M.D. is a top-rated Double-Board certified plastic surgeon in the Denver area with over 20 years of experience.

Dr. Emmett specializes in breast augmentations, breast lifts, body sculpting, and facial surgery.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Emmett call (303) 955-7545 today.