What is the Recovery Time for a Breast Augmentation?

I’m scheduled for my breast augmentation next week and I’m a bit worried about the recovery from surgery. How long do I have to wait until everything returns to normal? I work in a large law firm, and taking even a day off from work is a big deal. Is it possible to be back at work after just a week of recovery? The sooner, the better. I can handle the pain.


F, 32, New Hampshire

I have heard that recovery time after a breast augmentation procedure varies depending on whether you go with over-the-muscle or under-the-muscle implants. I had a friend who had her implants placed over-the-muscle (subglandular), and she said she was able to be up and active just a couple of days after surgery. On the other hand, my implants were placed under-the-muscle (submuscular), and it took much longer for me to get back to performing my normal activities. 

Right after I had my submuscular implants placed, I couldn't even hold a coffee mug the next day because my pectoral muscles felt so weak. After a couple of days, I could do more things for myself, but I remember I was told to not lift any heavy objects for at least a month. 

So subglandular implants have as shorter recovery time, but I wouldn't base my implant placement decision on recovery time alone. Remember that once the recovery time is over, you will be living with those implants for many years. You want to base your placement decision on which will result in the best look for you in the long run. Subglandular implants are prone to sagging after a few years, which is why most doctors advise submuscular implants to most women today. 

I asked the same question when I had my breasts done because I did not want to take many days off of work.  This was actually the reason it took me so long to get the procedure done since I had just started my new position I didn't want to have to ask for any time off since this would look poorly on my work ethic.  What I ended up doing was scheduling my procedure right before Thanksgiving last year so I had at least 5 days off from work and then I would play it by ear.  Like you expressed, I also have a high tolerance for pain so I was hoping by the sixth day I would feel well enough to go to work.

The doctor told me the amount of days women take to recover varies.  He explained that women who have had kids actually tend to recover faster because they have a high pain threshold.  However, he was adamant on taking the prescribed medication to reduced the pain.  He also explained it depends on if you get your implant below or above the muscle.  Below usually requires a longer recovery time but I think it yields better results (thats what I got).

There was no set days I had to wait in order to go back to work, however he gave me strict recovery instructions: 

  • I wasn't to put any strain on my chest area for the first week; I shouldn't pick anything up or even push anything remotely heavy.  (The whole Thanksgiving break was spent on my couch) 
  • After a week I could start doing some walking around my neighborhood.  I am an avid exerciser so it was tough for me to be sitting around for too long
  • The first 4 weeks I had to sleep on my back.  This was tough the first few days because I am used to sleeping on my side but its not so bad.
  • 6-8 weeks out I could start exercising my upper body again at the gym.  I ended up waiting 6 weeks but I think it depends on how you feel

So to sum up my experience I was back at work the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and had the procedure the Wednesday prior (5 full days of recovery).  I was still sore but it was not anything unmanageable and by the following weekend I felt pretty good and reduced my pain medication to just Advil.  

Best of Luck!


You'll need to rest for a few days after your augmentation surgery. But, you should be able to return to your job after one week. You should not lift heavy objects or go back to your intense workout program for six weeks with implants.

It's great that you have a high tolerance for pain. Not everyone does, but over-the-counter pain relief, such as acetaminophen, helps most find relief from the discomfort. Your doctor can provide you with prescription pain medication in case you need it.

Immediately after the surgery, your breasts will be covered with gauze. You may have drainage tubes, which are typically removed in two to three days. A surgical bra must also be worn to help you to heal. Most women have some swelling for the first week to ten days. You should do great! Stay positive and remember that the first few days are the most intense and you will improve daily.

Dr. David M. Tauber, MD - DeLucaPlasticSurgery.com - Albany, NY

After surgery, the breasts swell from the trauma of surgery and the tissues become edematous. This combined with the tightness of the skin and the squeeze of the pectorals muscle on the implant can give the implants a high and flat appearance as the round implants are squeezed like a pancake against the chest.

The initial recovery from surgery is a few days to a week. The ability to work depends on your occupation and your pain tolerance. Most patients are able to go back to light duty between 1 and 2 weeks and back to full activity by 4-6 weeks.

For more information click the following link: http://tiny.cc/augment

As the swelling subsides and the tissues begin to stretch from the weight of implants, the breasts begin to settle. Over the next few months, the implants settle and the soft tissue and pectoralis muscle relax. The shape changes from high and tight to lower and fuller as the implants round out and more of the implant is in position to provide lower pole projection.

This “drop and fluff” often occurs over the first few months after surgery as the edema finally escapes and the soft tissues relax. This process is often asymmetric as the breasts relax and settle at their own rates. It will take 3 to 6 months to see a final result – although for some patients this process occurs faster.

A detailed examination will help delineate the best surgical option and provide you a custom quote for your situation.

Call 518-724-2444 today to schedule a free phone or in person consultation!


Dr. David M. Tauber, MD - Board Certified Plastic Surgeon - DeLucaPlasticSurgery.com

David Tauber has 1 Breast augmentation before & after:

Breast augmentation before image performed by Dr. David TauberBreast augmentation after image performed by Dr. David Tauber

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