Post-Op Patience: Breast Surgery

One of the hardest parts of breast surgery for our patients is waiting for their final results to take shape. Rest assured, we have guided hundreds of patients through the ups and downs of the recovery period and we’ll support you every step of the way! In this blog, we’ll outline some of the common concerns that often come up following a breast reduction, breast lift, or breast augmentation.

Swelling and Bruising after Breast Surgery

Swelling is very typical following surgery, as blood cells rush to the area to promote healing. Post-op swelling can make your breasts appear quite differently immediately after surgery compared to the final results you were expecting. With breast augmentations in particular, swelling can cause patients to worry that they went ‘too big’. It’s important to give yourself time to both mentally and physically adjust to the changes in your body. The majority of the swelling will dissipate within two to four weeks, while the remainder can take another few months to fully subside. You will also likely have some bruising after surgery, which can appear as red, blue, purple, yellow, or black. It is normal for bruises to change colour or appear to be spreading as they fade. Bruising after surgery typically subsides after two to three weeks. 

A common question we get is regarding uneven swelling and bruising—again, this is completely normal during the healing stages and does not mean your final breasts will be asymmetrical. We like to use an analogy: if the difference in swelling between your breasts is akin to the size difference between a ping pong ball and a golf ball, you are within the normal range of discrepancy. If the size difference is more like comparing a baseball to a basketball, you should get in touch with our office so we can make sure all is well. 

Implants Settling After Breast Augmentation

The difference between a breast augmentation immediately post-op versus several months of healing can really be night and day. In many cases, implants will initially appear firmer, more protruding, and higher on the chest. As swelling subsides and the surrounding tissues acclimate to the implants, they will settle into a more natural-looking position and the transition from chest to breast will appear softer and more gradual. This is sometimes called the ‘drop and fluff’ process. Try to stay calm and patient throughout this time and trust that your desired results are in the works. Remember that of all the Before and After images you looked at during your research, most if not all were taken at three months to one year post-op—this is the time frame it takes before your long-term results are revealed. The first few weeks after surgery are not often shown online, but in reality, everyone goes through this journey of healing and waiting.

FORM Toronto Breast Augmentation Healing Time
Healing stages of a breast augmentation by Dr. Somogyi: Before, 3 days post-op, 1 month post-op, and 7 months post-op

Scarring After Breast Reductions and Lifts

While breast implants can be inserted through very small incisions in inconspicuous areas, breast lifts and reductions typically require longer incisions as your surgeon needs more access to remove and/or manipulate tissues. Incisions typically encircle the areola and may be paired with a vertical incision down the lower half of the breast and a horizontal incision along the lower breast fold. 

Your incisions will initially be covered with steri-strips, which will stay on for up to two weeks. When you first see your scars, they can look a little scary—remember that your body is still in the process of healing a significant wound. They won’t look like this forever! We will provide you with thorough instructions for using scar cream, silicone sheeting, and scar massage, which will all help with fading the appearance of the scar and helping it to heal in as flat and uniform a way as possible. It’s also very important to keep your scars out of the sun as much as possible, as UV exposure can cause hyperpigmentation (darkening) of the scar. (UV exposure is also the #1 cause of premature skin aging, so it’s always best to wear sunscreen and protect your investment!)

FORM Toronto Breast Reduction Breast Lift Scars Before After
An example of a breast lift at three months versus one year post-op. As you can see, with proper care the scars have faded to be barely noticeable.

If you have any questions about breast surgery or recovery, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We’re here to put your mind at ease and are always happy to chat.

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