Ask the Doctor: Breast Augmentation Surgery & Recovery

Breast AugmentationOK ladies, if you’re reading this blog, most likely, you have been thinking about or at one point have thought about breast surgery. Maybe you’ve even seen a physician for consultation. And maybe the only thing stopping you from having your breast surgery is the concern about your recovery. Let me review what to expect after breast augmentation surgery to help you decide if it is the right time for you.

Breast augmentation surgery is a very popular procedure, and one of the reasons for that is the fast recovery time. The procedure takes about an hour to perform under general anesthesia. It is considered an outpatient procedure because it does not require you to stay overnight in the hospital. Immediately after surgery, you may have some nausea as the anesthesia wears off, but you are treated with medications to prevent this from becoming a major issue. You will not be discharged from the facility until you are feeling well enough to leave and your pain is under control.

These days breast augmentation can be done in a variety of ways, and each of these techniques can affect the necessary recovery. Augmentation can be done with either implants or fat retrieved by liposuction. Implants can be placed above the muscle (sub glandular) or below the muscle (sub pectoral). Having the implants placed below the muscle typically has the longest recovery time, though usually only by a few days. What works well for some of my patients is having surgery on a Thursday or a Friday, and then taking the following week off of work to recover.

As you consider your recovery, it is a good idea to take into account your job requirements or your daily routine. If you have a very physical job, more than a week may be needed for recovery. Similarly, if you are running around after small children, extra hands to help will be appreciated for a longer duration.

As far as returning to exercise, it is reasonable to take walks or ride a bike about a week after surgery. I would wait at least 2 weeks to begin any rigorous exercise routine. You will likely still be sore and won’t want to do it anyhow.

Finally, I caution you not to go out and buy new super pretty bras immediately after surgery. It will be tempting, trust me. After surgery, we provide a supportive bra for comfort. There will be weeks of swelling, and your final breast size will generally result 4-6weeks after surgery. Your physician can guide you during the recovery period as to when it would be a good time to invest in nice ones. What to do with all your gently worn bras that no longer fit? Consider donating them to a worthy cause. Visit for information.

I hope this brief review helps in your decision to undergo breast augmentation surgery. If you have additional questions or would like to be evaluated by one of the board-certified cosmetic surgeons at the Emory Aesthetic Center, call us for a complimentary consultation to determine what would be best for you and your desires.

About Dr. Anderson

Erica Anderson, MDErica Anderson, MD, is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and currently holds an appointment as Assistant Professor in the Division of Plastic Surgery at Emory University. Dr. Anderson completed her general surgery residency and plastic surgery residency at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and associated hospitals in Denver, CO. She completed a year of advanced training in Aesthetic Surgery at Grotting Plastic Surgery in Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr. Anderson returns to Emory University after being in private practice in Arlington, Virginia. While there, she maintained a busy aesthetic and reconstructive practice and also served as Medical Director for the Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Center at Virginia Hospital Center.

Dr. Anderson’s academic and research interests are largely focused on clinical outcomes with regards to cosmetic surgery. Her areas of clinical interest are diverse including cosmetic surgery of the breast and body as well chest wall reconstruction and wound care.

Dr. Anderson is married with 3 children, Trent, Connor and Fiona, and 2 vizslas, Max and Mimi.

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