Pain... nobody likes it and we try to avoid it if we can. So, if you’re anxious about pain during your breast augmentation recovery you are definitely not alone!
We all heal differently. We all feel pain differently. Some women have a great, relatively pain-free breast implant surgery experience. And others... well, it’s a bit tougher.
For this reason, pain management needs to be tailored to you. And, every plastic surgeon is different in their postoperative plan based on their experience.
But, here’s a rundown of what to typically expect...
How Much Pain
First of all... it's not unusual to have pain following breast implant surgery. In fact, it would be weird if you felt no pain. It is surgery after all!
Next... know that how much pain you'll feel is dependent on what surgery you get and how you feel pain generally.
What's probably more important is knowing how your pain will be managed...
Post-op pain management is key to how you deal with any pain during your recovery.
But pain management actually starts during surgery.
Some plastic surgeons use nerve blocks (local anesthesia to the area to keep pain and inflammation to a minimum). By injecting local anesthetic to nerves in the area (while you're anesthetized), it can decrease the pain you feel when you come round.
When you come round from your general anesthetic your plastic surgeon may prescribe you a strong (narcotic) pain killer. You should only need these for the first few days post-op and then you'll be advised to move on to non-narcotic painkillers.
I've heard a lot of women describe their pain journey as: pain immediately post-op, tightness and discomfort (heavy feeling in the chest, or tightness) as things start to settle, and then (as nerves recover from breast surgery) some sensitivity in skin and nipples and sharp nerve pains (which do eventually settle down).
Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon at your consultation what their pain management strategies are.
It's really important to be as relaxed as possible after your breast surgery (don't do too much too soon!). I'm a big believer in having a positive recovery attitude (over at EKI we call this a PRA).
If you try and view your pain as a positive, healing pain it can help you get over those first few days.
Sometimes though pain can be quite... overwhelming.
Don’t be a pain martyr. It’s easier to keep pain at bay than to stop it once it’s set in, so stay on top of your meds (keeping a note/setting reminders on your phone can help).
Expect some of your pain to be experienced in other (non-boob) parts of your body.
Because you're guarded (walking funny, moving funny, sleeping funny) you can tense other parts of your body without realizing it. When you're not resting and if your plastic surgeon allows it try gentle arm movements and heat packs on neck/back/shoulder (NOT chest) to help ease any of these types of pain.
Some of the 'pain' you can feel is actually muscle spasms (especially with implants placed under the muscles). For this reason, some plastic surgeons prescribe muscle relaxants after surgery.
You can expect to be mostly pain free by the end of your first week. But you may still need some over-the-counter painkillers (like Tylenol) a bit longer than this, as healing after a breast augmentation can cause all kinds of bizarre and sometimes painful sensations.
Any 'new' pains after the early recovery period can feel scary, and most of us think something is wrong because of it. If you think you've done something that's compromised your healing call your plastic surgeon.
The most important aspect of pain control is communication with your surgeon
Find out before your breast surgery how your pain will be managed by your surgeon and if you have any questions at any time ask your surgeon!
Pain after surgery is real, but know that it will get better. Through good communication and sticking to your post-operative care instructions, pain is easily well controlled.