How to Manage Your Pain After Breast Augmentation

Relieve the post-op discomfort of your breast implants

woman with support bandage after breast surgery
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Pain and discomforts are common after breast augmentation surgery. You’re likely to feel tired and sore for a few days following your surgery. You may also experience a burning sensation in your nipples for about two weeks, but this will subside as bruising fades. Sharp, shooting pains in the breast are also a common occurrence following surgery.

Most of your discomfort will be controlled by the medication prescribed for you.

 The recovery period is only about 2-3 days for most patients before they return to daily activities and have minimal need for pain medication. Here are some things to know about the pain you are experiencing and what you can do about it.

Reasons for the Pain

There are a few things about you and your surgery that will have an impact on how much pain you will might experience:

  • The size of your implants. The larger your implants that more pain you will have after your surgery.
  • The position of your implants. Implants placed underneath the pectoral, or chest, muscles tend to hurt more post surgery. This is because the tissue is experiencing more trauma. The less the tissues are traumatized and the less bleeding there is, the better your post-op pain level will be.
  • You're a mom. Some surgeons report that their patients who have bore child tend to complain less about pain. Also, moms who have been through childbirth and breast engorgement tend to recover faster than patients who have not had children yet.

    How to Get Relief

    Most likely your surgeon will prescribe medication to help you manage your pain. If you are not getting adequate relief from the prescribed medication, it may be an indication that you need to see your surgeon. Give him or her a call. However, popping pills are not the only thing you can do to manage your pain.

    Consider these options:

    Using a pain pump. It is a device that delivers numbing medication to the area automatically, for 2 to 3 days, when you need it most. Many patients take over the counter pain medication with the pain pump, and this may avoid the side affects of prescription pain medications. 

    Keeping your breasts supported by the surgical bra or elastic bandage/Ace wrap provided after surgery will help to reduce your pain.

    Light stretching or exercising. Doing exercises like arm circles, shoulder rolls, and corner chest stretches, can help progressively stretch the pectoralis muscle, or chest muscle. Doing these exercises once an hour following your surgery, can prevent the muscle from contracting and shortening which may cause more discomfort. 

    Ask your surgeon about Botox. According to a scientific review published in the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgery, patients who had their implants placed underneath the chest wall and then receive Botox injections either during or after the surgery experienced less pain.

    There is a caveat to this advice: this review only looked at seven studies and the authors of the review state that the assessment of outcomes for this practice is inconsistent and needs more study.

    Sources:

    American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Breast Augmentation Recovery. Accessed May 22, 2011.

    Slavin SA, Greene AK. Augmentation Mammoplasty and Its Complications. In Thorne CHM, Beasely RW, Aston SJ, Bartlett SP, Gurtner GC, Spear S, eds. Grabb and Smith’s Plastic Surgery, 6th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 2007.

    Spear SL, Bulan EJ, Venturi ML. Breast Augmentation. In McCarthy JG, Galiano RD, Boutros SG, eds. Current Therapy in Plastic Surgery. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier, 2006.

    Winocour S, Murad MH, Bidgoli-Moghaddam M, Jacobson SR, Bite U, Saint-Cyr M, Tran NV, Lemaine V. A systematic review of the use of Botulinum toxin type A with subpectoral breast implants. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2014 Jan;67(1):34-41. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2013.09.012. Epub 2013 Sep 17.

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