The breast surgery recovery phase begins when you awaken from the general anesthesia. During the first 48 hours following your surgery, you can expect to feel groggy. Pain medication will reduce the amount of soreness you feel in the chest area, although you can still expect to feel some tenderness, pain, swelling, bruising, or bleeding. These side effects begin to subside within a day or two of the surgery, although some dull aching or pain may continue for several weeks.
Follow your doctor's instructions
Follow your doctor's post-surgery recovery instructions during this time. During the initial recovery period, you will be instructed to keep the chest wrapped in surgical dressings, a surgical bra, or a compression garment. Doing so will help your tissues to adjust to the new contours and the incision to heal correctly. Any drains or sutures used during your procedure will be removed at the follow-up appointment, usually scheduled about a week after the surgical procedure.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
Most patients take one to two weeks at home for their recovery from breast surgery. During the first couple of days, you may find it helpful to have someone stay with you to help you complete your daily activities until you feel up to easing back into your normal routine. For example, patients find bathing to be difficult during the recovery period; you may wish to arrange for a friend to help you wash your hair.
It is important to get plenty of rest during this time, though many patients find it difficult to sleep, as it is necessary to sleep propped up on pillows and to avoid sleeping on the stomach until the breasts have healed. During this time, restrict strenuous movements or exercise. Avoid heavy lifting, bending over, reaching over your head, or other activities that may place stress on your chest.
The breasts may not settle into their final size, position, and shape for up to six months, although you'll start to see the results of the procedure within a week or two, as swelling subsides.