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What to Expect after Breast Surgery

Most patients experience discomfort, pain or soreness within the first week after breast augmentation, breast reduction, or breast lift surgery. At PERK Plastic Surgery, we strive for a seamless and stress-free process–from the initial consultation and continued throughout the post-op care period. Our clients are seen regularly for post-surgery appointments to ensure optimal healing and keep the care in our hands, rather than the patients’. Each client will receive their own set of clear instructions to follow, covering the following information:

What will I look like after breast surgery?

  • The breasts will appear swollen and bruised
  • Incisions may have a “ruffled” or bumpy appearance at first–this will smooth and flatten with time
  • Inflammation can cause the nipples to appear retracted
  • Augmentation patients can expect implants to appear high initially–they will settle to a more natural-appearing position over the following months
  • Breast lift and breast reduction patients may notice the bottom of the breast appearing flat initially–they will soften and take their final, more natural shape over the following months
  • You will have a clear skin glue dressing (Dermabond) over the incisions that will peel off over the weeks following surgery
  • Steri-strips and/or a non-stick gauze with tegaderm (dressing/bandage) will cover the incision
  • A white fluffed gauze dressing will be held in position by the surgical bra that you will wake up in
  • A small amount of dry blood on the dressing is considered normal

What will my breasts feel like post-op?

Your breasts will feel swollen, tight and bruised

Sensations such as numbness, sharpness, and burning are expected and will gradually decrease over time

How much pain will I have?

Significant breast surgery discomfort is expected to subside within 1-2 weeks post-op. You should take your pain prescription as instructed and as you feel more comfortable, your need for medication will diminish.

General Care & Activity

What can I do after surgery?

It is important to take it easy after breast surgery, allowing your body time to recuperate and heal. Most patients are cleared of all restrictions at 4 weeks post-surgery.

  • You must avoid strenuous activity (specifically, an elevated heart rate) for at least 4 weeks post-op–this includes heavy lifting, exercise and anything stress-inducing
  • Keep your arm movements to a minimum for the first 48 hours
  • Your arms should not be used to support your body or to lift anything heavy (over 5 pounds)
  • While resting, keep your head and shoulders slightly elevated on at least 2 pillows for the first 24 hours
  • Try to sleep on your back for at least two weeks, keeping your head slightly elevated
  • Gradually increase your activity as you feel more comfortable

When can I shower or take a bath after breast surgery?

You can typically shower 24 hours post-surgery, however many patients will wait a few days or until they are seen in the office by Dr. Lee. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • You may remove the bra and gauze to shower, keeping the adhesive dressings taped to your body
  • Avoid using very hot water
  • Do not rub the incisions or let the water hit the area directly; instead, face your back to the water stream and allow it to gently flow over the incisions
  • The breasts will be tender, so wash gently and pat dry with a clean towel
  • Soaking in a tub is not permitted until at least two weeks post-surgery

Should I apply anything to the incisions?

It is not necessary nor helpful to apply anything to the incisions while the Dermabond glue is still in place. Once all incisions have healed, we will guide you on how to optimize and improve the scar’s appearance–including PERKPotions medical grade scar gel, microneedling, PRP, or more.

When will I be seen after surgery?

You will be seen in the office within one week of your surgery. If any concerns arise, we’ll ask that you come in sooner. We will continue to meet regularly throughout the year following your operation.

When can I wear a bra? What size bra will I be?

You should wear the surgical bra provided or a soft, comfy (no-underwire) sports bra that zips in the front, night and day for at least 3 weeks–removing it only for bathing or changing.

All bra companies vary in sizing so it is difficult to judge what exact cup size you will be after breast surgery. You may find that a different size is needed as the swelling resolves and/or as implants settle, so we recommend waiting six months before purchasing a new “bra wardrobe.”

When can I drive?

It is required that a responsible adult drives you home and cares for you during the first 24 hours post-surgery. Once you are no longer taking prescription pain meds and you can safely move your arms, you may drive yourself–typically 4-7 days after surgery. Do not drive when taking pain medication other than Tylenol.

When can I return to work?

Depending on the nature of your job and required physical activity, you should be able to get back to work as soon as you are comfortable. While it can be helpful to give yourself 1-2 weeks away, many patients return to desk work within the week after surgery. Strenuous activity and heavy lifting are not permitted until 4 weeks post-op.

What should I eat?

A light diet is best for the day of surgery. Begin by taking liquids slowly and progress to soups or jello from there. You may return to a regular diet the following day. We encourage a high protein, low-salt diet.

Can I drink alcohol?

Do not drink alcohol while taking narcotic pain medication after your surgery. It is best to wait 1-2 weeks post-surgery.

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Breast Surgery

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This refers to blood collecting in the surgical area. This is most likely to occur within a few days of surgery. Warning signs include:

  • Significant increase in swelling
  • Pain that does NOT respond to medication
  • Excessive or noticeably increasing bruising


Infection is rare following facial surgery. It is normal to have minimal drainage from your incisions for 1-2 days.
Signs of infection can include the following:

  • Increased temperature
  • Increasing drainage from the incisions
  • Increasing redness around the incisions

Leg swelling

Swollen legs, with or without associated pain, may indicate a problem with the circulation in your legs. Contact the office immediately if you experience significant swelling (either one or both legs) or pain in the legs.

Mild, painless and even (uniform) swelling is considered normal, such as:

  • Swelling due to your surgery, or in the area operated on
  • Swelling from the intravenous fluids given to you during the surgery
  • Swelling due to your decreased level of activity

Breathing problems

Experiencing trouble breathing after surgery is rare but can indicate a severe complication. If you develop any chest and/or back pain, or feel short of breath, you must contact the office or be seen in the nearest emergency medical facility without delay.

Medication reactions

Stop taking your medication and contact the office if the following occurs:

  • A skin rash
  • Itching
  • Vomiting

Post-Surgery Instructions & Videos

Breast Post-Surgery Instructions | PERK Plastic Surgery

Drain Care Video

Breast Post-Surgery Instructions | PERK Plastic Surgery

Top Surgery Post-Op Video

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Dr 90210 TV Show

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