A portion of every consultation addresses post-operative recovery. Although every patient’s recovery differs slightly, the course for most patients is relatively the same overall. The healing process cannot be rushed, because an appropriate amount of time is necessary to allow the body to complete normal healing. Proper healing helps promote a smooth recovery with optimal results.
Recently, a patient asked what the “rapid recovery” method is. For the most part, I believe this to be a marketing scheme designed to attract patients. The term “rapid recovery” is designed to make prospective patients believe that they will recover sooner from surgery if they choose a surgeon promoting this technique.
Following breast augmentation surgery, it is important for patients to avoid performing strenuous activities and exercise. Excessive or vigorous arm movements, stretching the arms high overhead, and lifting more than 10 pounds should be avoided for at least the first week. These recommendations are designed to reduce tension on suture lines and reduce strain on the pectoralis muscle, so as to subsequently avoid complications such as bleeding (hematoma), fluid collection (seroma), infection, capsular contracture, and implant malposition.
Usually after 1 to 2 weeks of very light activity, patients are allowed to slowly return to their normal activities as tolerated. As patients slowly begin more strenuous activities and exercises it is important that they use their body to guide them; activities that cause/aggravate pain or discomfort should be temporarily discontinued. Most patients will be able to achieve a full return to normal sometime between 4-8 weeks following surgery.
In terms of returning to work, women who perform sedentary jobs, or who are going to school, can usually return to those activities about a week after surgery. Women who perform more strenuous labor or heavy lifting may require 2 to 3 weeks off of work.
Discuss the type of work and exercise that you perform with your surgeon during your consultation. He or she will be able to help you understand the expectations for your recovery.