Breast augmentation is a popular cosmetic surgery. According to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, more than 355,000 Americans underwent this procedure in 2008, making it the second most commonly performed procedure behind liposuction. Although the actual surgery time is short compared to many other procedures (about one to one-and-a-half hours for the surgeon to perform), it is an invasive procedure and discomfort after augmentation is common and expected. The amount of pain you experience after surgery varies and depends on several factors.
During the consultation period, you may have the opportunity to try on various implants. Although the size decision should ultimately be yours, be sure to ask your doctor what he/she thinks would best fit your body type and lifestyle. Larger implants are often associated with more discomfort and pain following augmentation.
Also, where the implants are placed in your body can determine the amount of pain you experience. There are two possible placements for your implants: subglandular or subpectoral.
Subglanduar placement means that the implant is positioned under your breast tissue, but above the chest wall muscle. Subpectoral placement means that the implant is positioned under the breast tissue and the chest wall muscle.
Patients who choose a subglandular placement may experience less pain, since the surgeon does not cut into the chest wall muscle. However, there are several benefits for choosing either placement. Your surgeon should discuss both placement options and amount of expected pain associated with each.
Preparing for Surgery
After you choose your surgeon and decide on a surgery date, your doctor will most likely see you for a pre-operative visit. This is when you sign the medical releases for surgery and receive all of your pre- and post-operative instructions. If you are concerned with pain after your surgery, discuss this with your doctor. Many surgeons put their patients on an anti-inflammatory medicine before and after surgery to minimize discomfort while healing.
During your Surgery
It is important to understand that a good surgical team will take the necessary steps to ensure your comfort and safety before, during, and after the augmentation. On your surgery day, you will most likely meet with the anesthesiologist who will be monitoring your heartbeat and breathing while the plastic surgeon is operating. Discuss with the anesthesiologist your concerns about pain. She should reassure you that the anesthesia will be properly monitored to minimize discomfort when you wake up from surgery.
During your procedure, the surgeon will concentrate on making the appropriate sized "pockets" for your implants to be placed in. Although this does involve incisions, modern technology has provided surgeons with instruments that make the process much less traumatic on your body.
What To Expect Immediately Following Surgery
Your doctor will most likely have prescribed painkiller medication for the first few days. Discomfort tends to be the greatest the first week following surgery and should ease with time. Surgeons generally recommend resting for a few days with no driving and no lifting, pushing or pulling anything more than about five pounds. Breast augmentation patients commonly describe the feeling directly after augmentation as very sore and feeling like there is a heavy weight on the chest. Sharp, shooting pains are actually common the first few days following surgery and should not alarm you. These are the cut nerves beginning to regenerate. Relax and follow your surgeon's post-operative instructions.
Healing time after breast augmentation also depends on the individual. Some women are back to normal activities in a few days, while others experience pain for a few weeks to a month. Your doctor and staff should be monitoring you closely the first month or two after surgery. Listen to your body and notify the physician if the pain worsens after a few weeks.