Breast Implants

Breast implants are used to surgically increase the patient's breast size. In many cases, breast implant surgery is strictly a cosmetic increase, but many breast cancer survivors and others often use breast implants as prosthetics to replace one or both breasts.

Individuals interested in getting breast implants should schedule a meeting with a plastic surgeon who is familiar with the breast implant procedure. The plastic surgeon can explain the various risks and benefits of breast implants, including the different materials used for the shell and the filling of the breast implant. Depending upon the needs of the patient, the surgeon may choose from a variety of breast implant materials and techniques to tailor the outcome to the individual.


Recovery from breast implants

Recent advances in breast implant procedures enable the surgeon to operate with a minimal amount of scarring; many breast implants are now inserted through incisions hidden by the belly button or armpits. Recovery after a breast implant surgery varies by individual, but patients are usually able to return home immediately following their breast implant procedure. The majority of patients will wear an elastic bandage to prevent shifting while the breast implants heal, and some patients experience soreness and stiffness for the first days to weeks following breast implant surgery. Any swelling or bruising should subside shortly, and the final results of the breast implants will appear around six months after the surgery.

Breast implant recovery is not a simple process. In most cases, the breasts that you see immediately after breast implant surgery are not indicative of the final results. It is not until after six to eight weeks of breast implant recovery that the breasts finally take a shape of their own. Recovery continues until each individual feels comfortable with her new breasts.

Recovery Stages


There are several different stages of the breast implant recovery process, each with many different side effects that may occur.


Discomfort is to be expected. This discomfort can range from mild to severe, and can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks or more. The amount and duration of the discomfort a patient experiences depends on the size and placement of the implants. The larger the implants, the more uncomfortable they will be. Additionally, placement of the implants under the muscle (subpectoral placement) is likely to cause more discomfort than placement on top of the muscle (subglandular placement), as the muscle must stretch to allow for room beneath it.


The stitches that the surgeon uses to close the pocket around the implant will either dissolve on their own within a week of recovery or they will need to be removed by the surgeon seven to 10 days after surgery.


Compression bandages or a compression bra are used immediately after surgery to prevent blood and fluid accumulation, speed healing and keep the implants in place during the early stages of recovery. If bandages are applied, they are usually removed within a day or two and replaced with a compression bra. This bra is usually worn for the first two weeks or more of recovery. Bras with underwire should not be worn during breast implant recovery.

Swelling and Bruising

During recovery from breast implant surgery, it is common for some women to experience minor drainage, swelling, bruising and tenderness. To control swelling, it is often helpful to use cold packs and sleep with the torso elevated. Pain medication is often prescribed to reduce pain, and limiting activity during recovery will help reduce the risk of bruising. Full activity should not usually be resumed until at least six weeks into the recovery period.


Most women experience patchy areas of numbness from bruised nerves in the breast after breast implant surgery. During nerve recovery, some women experience shooting pains or electrical shock sensations, which indicates that nerve activity is returning. These feelings may last for a month or so during recovery.

Recovery Time


For most women, the full recovery from breast implant surgery usually takes a few months. Everyday activities can usually be resumed with two weeks. However, as with all surgeries, recovery time is different for each patient.

Breast Implant Size

The size of the breast implants used depends upon several factors, including the proportions of the patient, the breast implant shape, desired amount of cleavage and protrusion of the breast implant itself when viewed from the side. Most patients have found after surgery that breast implants tend not to appear as large as natural breasts, so the size of the breast implant may seem smaller than what you intended. On the other hand, ordering breast implants in a size that is too large could lead to serious complications after the breast implant surgery. A competent plastic surgeon will not push the limits of your body by using an oversized breast implant, so you should talk various sizes over with your surgeon to determine the breast implant size that is right for your needs.

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