Recovery and Results

Dr. John Q. Cook explains what to expect during the surgical recovery process of breast augmentation..

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Certification, Affiliation, and Memberships

  • Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery
  • Attending Plastic Surgeon at Rush University Medical Center
  • Member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons
  • Member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
  • Member of the Illinois Society of Plastic Surgeons
  • Member of the Chicago Medical Society

John Q. Cook, M.D.

Chicago 312-751-2112
Winnetka 847-446-7562

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Recovery and Results

I have put this section of recovery and results in the website together for two different readers.

First, there are my patients who are preparing for surgery and who want to know what to expect during the recovery process. We will, of course, be available to guide you through every aspect of the recovery, but it is reassuring to know in advance what the experience will be like.

Second, is for women who are seeking general information about recovery from breast implant surgery and who may have come across my website in their search for knowledge.


A Good Recovery and Results from Breast Enhancement Surgery Begins with Good Preparation

There are several things that you can do in the days leading up to surgery that will make the entire process go smoothly.

  1. Avoid Medications and Supplements Such that might thin the blood, such as aspirin, Advil, vitamin E and omega 3s for two weeks before surgery.
  2. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants Berries and colored vegetables help to prepare the body for recovery and they are always beneficial.
  3. Get Plenty of Exercise Exercise in the days leading up to the surgery, since this “charges up” the healing process. Avoid exercises that strain the pectoral muscles.
  4. Hydrate Drink extra water the day before surgery, so that you are well-hydrated going into the surgery. Do not have anything to drink after midnight of the day before surgery.
  5. Clear your Schedule Clear your schedule and line up your helpers for the days following surgery. If you go into surgery in a relaxed state, the recovery will go smoothly.

What I Do During Surgery and Immediately After Surgery to Make Your Recovery Easier

A precise and gentle approach to surgical technique is less traumatic and will help lead to an easy recovery. I also make generous use of a long-acting local anesthetic, which blocks most of the pain fibers from the breasts. Immediate cooling at the end of the surgery and during your time in the recovery area will also reduce swelling and bruising. We have found that the use of muscle-relaxing medicines will relieve much of the discomfort that comes from implants in the subpectoral position.

woman-sleepingRECOVERY AND RESULTS PHASE 1: From Surgery to First Postoperative Visit

For the first few days after surgery, there are several things you can do to optimize the recovery process. You will be protected by a somewhat bulky dressing that is held in place with a gentle stretch bra. Is important that you keep the dressing intact and avoid the temptation to peek at the results, since it has been precisely fitted to your breasts.

You will have to avoid baths or showers until your first postoperative visit, but you can sponge bathe. You will need to sleep on your back. Patients always worry that they will turn on their sides during sleep, but this almost never happens, due to a natural protective instinct. Most patients are more comfortable with the back elevated on pillows or a wedge, but it is not necessary to be completely upright during sleep. While you are resting, lightweight ice bags or bags of frozen peas across the top and sides of the breast can be very soothing. It may help for you to prop your arms on pillows, since this takes strain off of the pec muscles.

We will prescribe a muscle relaxant medication, which decreases your need for narcotic pain medication. Always make sure that you have food in your stomach before you take a pain pill. It is very important that you get up and walk short distances — even immediately after surgery — since this decreases the risk of blood clots in your legs.


woman-walkingRECOVERY AND RESULTS PHASE 2: From the Grand Unveiling to One Week After Surgery

Most of my patients come back to see us three or four days after surgery. We will remove the dressing and fit you with a bra that is appropriate to your breast dimensions and the specific surgery that I performed.

With certain types of implants I will give you instructions for implant exercises that will keep the pocket around the implant from tightening (capsular contracture).

It is now fine to shower, but I prefer that my patients who have undergone standard breast augmentation avoid immersion in water (i.e., bathtubs, swimming pools, hot tubs) for one month after surgery.

It is good for you to use your arms in normal light activity, but you should avoid lifting heavy objects. Gentle walking is fine for exercise, but you should avoid heavy exercise, any jarring exercise such as running, and upper body exercise for the first four weeks. Most patients can return to work within a day or two of the first post-op visit. We will give you specific guidance based on the nature of your work and the details of your surgery.


RECOVERY AND RESULTS PHASE 3: From One Week to Four Weeks After Surgery

During this phase, mild exercise helps the recovery, but heavy exercise will delay or even harm your recovery. We will give you specific guidance based on the nature of your surgery.

You will be able to do most of the things that you normally do, but remember to pace yourself. It is definitely not wise to plunge back into a 10-hour or longer workday. Your body needs extra energy for recovery.

Maintain excellent nutrition, with an emphasis on foods rich in antioxidants and healthy sources of protein. The Mediterranean diet is beneficial for your entire life, but it is particularly helpful after surgery.

Once we remove the surgical tape from your incisions, we recommend that you let the good fresh air get to the incisions for several days. You can then begin the use of topical agents, which will help the scars to mature quickly.

As the weeks pass, you will notice that your breasts will become softer, a bit less full in the upper portion, and nicely rounded in the lower portion; in other words, more and more like beautiful natural breasts! Any bruising that may have occurred will gradually dissipate.


woman-runningRecovery Phase 4: BEYOND ONE MONTH AFTER SURGERY

If your surgery does not involve additional techniques such as breast lift or fat transfer you are free to resume your usual exercise pattern at four weeks. It is important for you to wear a good supportive exercise bra, so that the implants remain in position during running or other exercise.

Remember to gently ease yourself into your typical exercise routine over several weeks, and listen to your body, as the saying goes. If your activity causes discomfort, reduce the level of intensity. We are, of course, always available to help you with any specific questions you may have. Extreme pec exercise is best avoided with breast implants.


Please remember to protect your incisions from the sun, as this may cause them to darken. Make certain that the weave of your swimsuit prevents the sun from getting through, and apply sunblock to your incisions.

If we have instructed you to do implant exercises it is best for you to do these as long as possible. A few minutes at the beginning and end of the day is a good investment if it helps you to maintain soft, natural breasts. The breasts will continue to “settle in” for at least the first six months after surgery. The typical pattern is for the breasts to become increasingly soft and natural with each month that passes.

Things that are NORMAL during the first few weeks after breast augmentation surgery:

  1. Soreness
  2. Mild Asymmetry
  3. Bruising
  4. More fullness in upper portion of the breast than desirable.
  5. Firmer breast than desirable.

Things that are NOT NORMAL during the first few weeks after surgery:

  1. Severe Pain
  2. One breast much more swollen than the other.
  3. One breast much more bruised than the other.
  4. Redness and warmth of the breast.
  5. Drainage from the surgical incision.

If any of these things happen, contact your doctor so that you can be evaluated. Prompt action keeps little problems from turning into big ones.

Learn More About Breast Augmentation Recovery

The team at Whole Beauty® Breast Center is committed to helping patients through every step of breast surgery, from the initial consultation through recovery and results. We provide personalized, attentive care to all patients. If you are interested in learning more about breast augmentation surgery with Dr. John Q. Cook, contact his practice today by calling 312-751-2112.

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