A cosmetic surgery like a breast lift (mastopexy) is an exciting decision. Your procedure is an opportunity for you to make a change to your appearance that you may have been dreaming of for quite some time. But the day of your surgery is not the end of your journey: your recovery can make just as much of a difference in your results and your satisfaction. The Banff Plastic Surgery team knows how important it is that you are fully prepared to take care of yourself while you heal. We make it our mission to give you all the tools and information you need so that you know what to expect in the days and weeks following your breast lift procedure. While every one of our patients receives personalized treatment and recovery advice, this guide can serve as your introduction to the mastopexy recovery process.
Your first few days after your surgery should be spent taking it easy as much as possible. Banff Plastic Surgery uses a “multimodal” approach to pain so that you are unlikely to need narcotic medication to any significant extent. This approach reduces your discomfort by targeting pain in different areas. We start with preoperative medications which are supplemented by using “numbing” or “freezing” injections during the surgery. After surgery, we have you take a special anti-inflammatory twice a day, celecoxib, which is used because it does not cause bruising and even bleeding like ibuprofen can. Tylenol (acetaminophen) is actually quite good when used regularly to keep discomfort under control. Then you only need to add a narcotic (codeine or even oxycodone) on rare occasions for the first couple of days. Narcotics can make you drowsy but they can also make you feel ill. They also frequently have side effects such as itching and constipation. Fortunately for our patients, we can rely less on narcotics because of the other great pain management options that we offer. This means that we can eliminate the annoying side effects. You should be able to transition to non-narcotic pain relief anywhere from 2-5 days after surgery. The Banff Plastic Surgery nurses will be calling you in the days after surgery, so you can discuss how you are feeling with them and they can give you advice on how to improve your recovery.
Making a full recovery from a breast lift takes a few weeks and final results do not occur for several months. We recommend waiting to buy new bras at least 6 weeks after surgery. A breast lift alone will mean you should plan for a couple of weeks of modified activities before you can fully resume normal activities. This timeline is not much different when an implant is added. The recovery is somewhat longer, however, when an implant is placed under the muscle. Depending on your age, your health and the mastopexy technique that is right for you, you will want to take between one and two weeks away from a sedentary job or light daily responsibilities. It can take three to four weeks before you are cleared to resume more strenuous activities like exercise or a non-sedentary job.
Activities to Avoid
Until you can manage your pain with over-the-counter medications, you should avoid activities like driving, cooking or housework. If you are normally in charge of maintaining a household, caring for children or running errands, we usually recommend arranging for help with these responsibilities for your first week post-surgery. For your first two weeks of recovery, you should keep motions and tasks that might agitate or jostle your breasts to a minimum. These can include excessive reaching, stretching, laying on your stomach, tight hugs or scratching your skin. Some of these movements can certainly happen unintentionally — unless you suffer a serious fall or impact, you should not need to worry. However, you should still be conscious of your recovering breasts and try not to do anything that might disrupt the healing process.
After your first two weeks, you will be able to resume most activities of daily life but you should still avoid more strenuous movements like jogging, running or jumping. These more strenuous activities can be started (slowly) at 4 weeks after surgery. You may also find that you become tired more easily as your body dedicates its energy to healing from your surgery, so it is usually wise to continue to continue to have some short rest periods throughout the day. We do not, however, want to see you lying all day in bed because of the risk of blood clots in your legs which can break off and travel to your lungs. We want you to get up and move around multiple times a day. We want you to keep well hydrated and we want you to avoid crossing your legs or being immobile for long periods of time (such as travel).
We do not advise long trips during the first few weeks after surgery and we do not advise travelling outside the country because any extra medical insurance that you have for outside of Canada will not apply for any pre-existing conditions.
What to Expect
Some parts of the recovery process are more clear-cut than others. After a surgery like a breast lift, you likely will not be surprised by recovery symptoms like pain and discomfort around your breasts, fatigue, bruising or swelling. Breasts do settle with time but often not at the same rate. Do not be concerned by some differences in size and shape. We only get concerned if one breast doubles in size compared to the other.
You can expect a certain amount of numbness in the nipples and breast skin, but if you get burning sensations or sharp shooting pains, you can be reassured that this is normal (but annoying). It is best to either rub the area or put pressure on to “de-sensitize” the skin. These are common irritations due to the nerves regenerating and can be a nuisance. It may seem counter-intuitive to rub the skin but it actually does help.
Although some surgeons suggest different types of compression garments, here at Banff Plastic Surgery, we believe that it is the surgery that is the most important – and not the postoperative garments. You will be provided with a brassiere but excessive compression can actually be detrimental to your recovery. We instead suggest that you use whatever is comfortable for you. Some form of support can make you feel more at ease, but it is often not actually necessary.
When to Contact Your Surgeon
Banff Plastic Surgery is committed to providing you with all the information that you need to prepare you for your surgical experience. One of the best ways that we differentiate ourselves from other practices is that we have full time registered nurses who are able to answer or clarify any questions that you might have, no matter how small, after surgery. They are available during office hours and all patients are given the surgeon’s cell phone number in case of an emergency after hours or on weekends. Perhaps your sutures have started oozing or itching, or you are worried that your breast is not healing properly around an implant. Complications from breast lifts, even those that include augmentations, are very rare — you most likely have nothing to worry about. There are some more serious warning signs, though: if you are experiencing excessive bleeding or swelling, increasing pain or a fever you should contact the Banff Plastic Surgery staff or your surgeon (evenings and weekends).
Even if your concerns may not be serious, the Banff Plastic Surgery staff is your first and best resource for surgery- or recovery-related questions. If at any time you feel as though something is wrong, or even if you just want clarification about something, you should call the office first. We want you to have a safe and comfortable recovery and we are always available to help ease your worries or to give advice.
At Banff Plastic Surgery, we know that your successful recovery is the key to your ideal results. It is our mission to be a caring and compassionate resource for all of our patients from their consultation to their last follow-up appointment and beyond. Our patient tools, attention to detail and individualized approach mean that you can feel at ease about your breast lift procedure and recovery throughout the entire process. To learn more about a breast lift at our Banff, Alberta location, contact us today at 403-762-2055 and schedule your consultation.