About Dr. Salemy
Patient resources
Doctor Salemy Favicon

Breast Implant Surgery Recovery Guide and Timeline

Breast augmentation surgery is one of the most consistently popular cosmetic surgeries there is. The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery notes that there were 365,000 breast augmentations performed in 2021 – an impressive number! While the skill and care of your surgeon is imperative for excellent results, the truth is that how you handle your recovery can be just as important to your overall experience as well.

Breast Implant Surgery Recovery Timeline: What to Expect

In general, most patients can expect about one week of immediate down time and approximately 6 weeks of no exercise, strenuous activity, pushing/pulling or anything that can elevate your heart rate up. The following detailed guide however will help you understand what to expect in every stage of recovery so that you can be well-prepared.

Immediately After Surgery

During the procedure, you will likely be placed under general anesthetic for the breast augmentation surgery. Immediately after the augmentation is finished, you will be taken to a recovery area and monitored closely by our medical staff. This ensures that you are safe and stable before being discharged from the facility.

In general, breast augmentation surgery is an outpatient plastic surgery procedure, so you will not be kept overnight unless there are circumstances that lead the surgeon to believe it would be beneficial. Your plastic surgeon will discuss the specifics of your case with you during the consultation.

For most patients, discharge usually happens within an hour or two of waking up from anesthesia.

Before leaving the facility, you will receive specific postoperative instructions from your plastic surgeon to ensure a smooth and safe recovery at home. This will include information about caring for the surgical drains around the incision site, which help reduce pressure and discomfort from fluid buildup.

It may also include receiving medications, prescriptions, and supportive postop garments. Some plastic surgeons may address these items before the surgery, but some may choose to wait.

Be sure you have someone to drive you home.

At a Glance:

  • Patient will be monitored 1-2 hours after the surgery and discharged that day.
  • Minimal physical activity.
  • Breasts may look swollen, bruised and compressed.
  • No showering for 24 hours following surgery.

The First Day After Breast Augmentation Surgery

Breasts will be mildly or moderately bruised, and the breastbone may be swollen.

Breasts will feel very tight and firm, and implants will appear compressed and “high”.

It will be necessary to wear an athletic bra, for which Dr. Salemy’s office can provide recommendations.

The First 48 Hours

Be sure to have someone available to help you during this time, as you will not be able to drive (for at least 5-7 days following the procedure) and you’ll be advised to severely limit your physical activity.  You’ll also need to sleep at a 30-degree angle and wear your support garments 24/7 unless showering.

Because of the discomfort and limited movement during this phase, it’s best to have a friend or family member stay with you for support and help. If possible, it’s often recommended to prep meals ahead of your surgery date to ease this time.

Remember that your breasts may still look or seem strange in the earliest stages of recovery. They may look high, squared at the top, or like male pectorals. This is normal and in no way indicates what the final result will be.

At a Glance:

  • No lifting arms above shoulders or carrying more than 5-10 pounds.
  • Wear support bra 24/7 unless showering.
  • Breasts may look like male pecs; this is normal and will resolve as you keep healing.
  • Limit any activities that could elevate blood pressure as this can trigger bleeding.

Days 3-5 Post-Op

You will most likely need pain medication for at least the first 2-3 days following surgery. Remember that this is the worst of the discomfort, and it will go away as you heal.

It’s critical for you to rest as much as possible during the first week of your recovery. Your body needs to devote its energy to healing, so refrain from strenuous activity and let your support person care for you. This is one of the best things you can do to ensure better results.

It is also important to note that you may develop a mild fever during this time. Keep taking your any antibiotics and prescriptions as directed. It will likely resolve in a few days, but, if it persists or worsens, call your surgeon’s office right away.

At a Glance:

  • This is when the discomfort peaks, so keep following your surgeon’s care instructions and take your pain medication as directed.
  • Avoid all strenuous activity and rest as much as possible.
  • Remember to avoid still water like baths or swimming pools.
  • You may be cleared to drive once you are no longer taking pain medication.

First Week

You should expect to take off from work for at least a week or so following your surgery. You need as much rest as possible, so even if you have a desk job, it’s important to ask for time off to rest, heal and recover.

We recommend patients eat light, easy-to-digest food the first week after surgery.  Use a stool softener to avoid constipation and add in extra fiber as needed.

Sleep on your back the first week after surgery, propped up by 2-3 pillows (approximately 30 degrees).

By the end of the first week, most patients start feeling more energetic and less uncomfortable. Pain, soreness and swelling should be diminishing by this point. Remember that it takes many weeks for swelling to resolve fully enough to see what your final results will be, so keep being patient.

Additionally, you will likely need to check and change your surgical dressings within this timeframe, so be sure to follow your postoperative instructions carefully. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to call your surgeon’s office to ask any questions you may have. The staff will be happy to help.

Note that you’ll still be advised to refrain from driving during the first 5-7 days after surgery.

At a Glance:

  • Pain and soreness should noticeably lessen.
  • Swelling will persist for many weeks.

Weeks 2 – 8

By week two, you should feel much more like yourself. Discomfort and soreness should be substantially reduced, and your surgeon may clear you to resume a more active schedule.

You may sleep on your side with your arm resting on a pillow in front of you, but do not allow your arm to put pressure on the side of the breasts. After six weeks you may resume sleep in any position that is comfortable.

NO exercise (both upper and lower body) for six weeks, unless otherwise advised by your surgeon.  Additionally, if you have children, ask your surgeon if it’s okay to pick them up before doing so.

For several weeks after surgery, your implants will seem to “ride high.”  As the pectoral muscle stretches out, the implants will settle, and the breast will assume a more natural shape.

Even though you’re feeling better and slowly returning to a normal schedule, it’s important to keep wearing your support bra or a sports bra to give your breasts extra support during this time.

At a Glance:

  • Breasts will begin to soften.
  • Chest aches may occur; this is normal after a few weeks of disuse.
  • Patients can become more active but are still advised to avoid high-impact movements.

Two Months After Surgery

Within the first two months or so, your surgeon will let you know at what point it’s okay to stop wearing your support garment. In addition, once you have reached this point in your recovery, most surgeons will give you the green light to resume all of your normal activities, including having a full bath.

Make sure to get explicit permission from your surgeon before you resume vigorous workouts and strenuous activities. Doing these too soon can set back your recovery.

At a Glance:

  • Your breasts will look more “normal,” but still not completely healed or settled.
  • Breasts may look uneven, and nipples may still look uneven.
  • Your surgeon will clear you to resume vigorous activity.

FAQs for Breast Implant Surgery Recovery

How long overall does it take to recover from breast augmentation?

Recovery differs from one patient to the next. However, in terms of resuming normal physical activity, most patients are able to go back to their normal lives within 6 weeks or so of surgery.

The breasts often take much longer than two months to look normal and feel natural, however. In many cases, it can take at least six months or more to have fully softened, natural-looking breasts. Your surgeon will tell you exactly what to expect during a consultation.

How long is bed rest after breast implants?

Total bed rest is NOT recommended— we want our patients to get up and walk throughout the day for a few minutes at a time while awake, but take lots of breaks, rest up and listen to your body.  It is strongly recommended to take at least one week off from work, even if you have a desk job. Usually, after a full week of rest, patients feel some of their energy return and can perform light activities.

What should you not do after breast augmentation?

First, you should refrain from entering any kind of still water, such as baths or swimming pools for at least 8 weeks post-surgery. This water can get into your incisions and cause problems or infections.

Second, you should not lift anything heavy or raise your arms above shoulder level during the early stages of recovery. This means no lifting grocery bags, heavy purses or children. Ask your surgeon before you attempt any kind of upper body activity. Generally, we recommend refraining from exerting any physical activity during the first six weeks of recovery.

Third, you should not worry about how your breasts look in the weeks following surgery. Trust the process and follow your doctor’s instructions closely. It takes several weeks at minimum for breasts to start to settle and start to look natural.

How do I take care of myself after breast augmentation?

The best thing you can do for yourself is have a support person staying with you during the early phases of recovery. You will feel some pain and discomfort during this time, and you will be limited in what you can and cannot do. Having a loved one there to help will make this time much easier.

Another important thing to do for yourself is to follow all of your aftercare instructions closely. Your surgeon knows exactly what you must do to recover well and achieve the best results possible, so listen to their expertise, and don’t push yourself to recover “ahead of schedule.”

What is the fastest way to recover from breast augmentation?

The fastest way to recover from breast augmentation is to give your body the rest and nourishment it needs. Surgery is an invasive procedure, and this means that your body needs ample time to recover completely. This is not the time to “tough it out.” Take your pain medications as prescribed, rest as much as you need to and eat nourishing, healthy foods as often as you are hungry for them. All of these things will help you recover well and stay on track to feeling great faster.

When can you return to normal activity?

Typically, surgeons will clear their patients to resume very light activity after a couple of weeks, as long as their recovery is progressing well. For normal or more strenuous activity, the time limit is usually around 6 to 8 weeks after surgery.

Your surgeon will assess your progress during follow-up visits and let you know exactly when you are able to resume normal activities.

What are some do’s and don’ts after breast augmentation?


  • Rest a lot.
  • Eat well.
  • Shower only, no baths or immersing the breasts under water.
  • Rely on your support person.
  • Wear your support garment all the time.
  • Ask for help.


  • Do too much too soon
  • Worry that your breasts look “weird”
  • Lift anything heavy
  • Go back to work before at least a week of recovery
  • Submerge in bath or pool water

When should my results settle/stabilize? When can I see the results of the breast augmentation?

Every patient’s case is unique. However, for most patients, results should start to look more natural after about two to three months, and they will feel soft, settled and normal by the six-month mark. It can take a bit longer for the final results to show, so be sure to ask your surgeon when you can expect to see the end result based on your recovery.

When will patients return to their normal lifestyle? How long does it take to feel normal after breast surgery?

Most patients start to feel normal after a week or two following surgery. By the end of the first month, most pain and discomfort should be gone. In many cases, surgeons will clear patients to return to their normal lives after about two months or so.

Breast Augmentation Recovery Can be Worth the Extra Care

Rushing through the healing process may seem hard to resist, but in this case, you’ll want to take your time and let your body heal at a safe pace during the recovery period.

Finally, choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon for your breast augmentation will give you peace of mind and ensure you have the best possible care during your surgery and recovery. They will give you a breast augmentation recovery timeline that is tailored to you so that you know exactly what to expect.

More Resources:

To schedule a consultation,
please call our office
Dr. Shahram Salemy Close Up

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS

Dr. Salemy is an award-winning, ASPS Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon and member of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) practicing in Seattle, WA. As Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington's School of Medicine, Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic Surgery and President of The Northwest Society of Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Shahram Salemy strives to advance the field and practice of plastic surgery for both his patients and his university students. Learn more about Dr. Shahram Salemy and his esteemed background.
Yale University Logo
Yale University School of Medicine
UW Medicine Department of Surgery Logo

Thanks for signing up!

You can unsubscribe at any time using the Unsubscribe link at the bottom of every email.

Elevate Your Beauty Journey!

Stay in the loop with the latest in cosmetic transformations! Join our exclusive mailing list to unlock VIP access to expert insights, beauty tips, and special offers tailored for those seeking perfection in every contour.

We have chosen not to display before and after photos of labiaplasties given the sensitive nature of this anatomy. However, we will be happy to show you before and after photos at your consultation so that you may see the kinds of results that are possible with this procedure.