Updated: Oct 28
Small or large, round or narrow, side set, teardrop or asymmetrical, breasts come in any number of
shapes and sizes. But for those who aren't happy with the breasts they were naturally dealt, breast augmentation has long offered an opportunity to change them.
As one of the most consistently popular cosmetic procedures of recent decades, breast augmentation has come a long way since the experimental surgeries of the early 20th century and since the advent of breast implants in 1961. The operation is among the most recognizable examples of plastic surgery and has come to play a pivotal role in shaping the cultural understanding of the space for many years. Yet, even as roughly 200,000 Americans underwent breast augmentation in 2020 alone, confusion persists around its recovery process, and many patients remain unsure of what to expect after the procedure.
How long does recovery take following breast augmentation?
While recovery time can greatly differ depending on the specifics of your procedure, your health, and after-care, there is a general timeline that often rings true for breast augmentation.
"Depending on the technique used, recovery can be three weeks (with subglandular augmentation, my preference) or three months (with submuscular technique, which is much more painful and involves cutting your pectoralis major muscles and stretching them over an implant)," explains Karen Horton, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in San Francisco and ASPS member.
Is there anything you should avoid before surgery to minimize recovery time?
Contrary to popular belief, recovery actually starts before you even have your breast augmentation. Although patients aren't at all limited in their physical activity in the days and weeks leading up to the surgery, there are certain medications and supplements that should be avoided.
When can you return to normal activity?
It takes only about a week to heal enough from surgery to return to work (if an office job) and most activity, but there are certain things, namely exercise, that require waiting a bit longer.
"I usually tell patients they can start working out at about three weeks post-op, and that means legs and arms but no chest," Dr. Bajaj explains. "I remember the first time I went running again, it was about two weeks after surgery, and I felt like my breasts were going to fall off my chest. So, I tell my patients that when they first start doing any type of cardio that's really bouncy, that's what it will feel like, and they might want to wear two bras."
And although you may be super excited to show off your new breasts in a cute bra, you will be somewhat limited on the type.