Breast augmentation is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures worldwide. It involves the placement of implants and/or fat transfer to increase the size and improve the shape of the breasts. Although the procedure is relatively safe, postoperative care is crucial to ensure optimal outcomes and reduce the risk of complications. In this article, plastic surgeon Dr Dale Geoffreys discusses the postoperative management of breast augmentation surgery.
Immediate Post-Surgery Care
After your surgery, you’ll be in a recovery area where the medical team will monitor for any complications, such as bleeding, infection or allergic reactions. Pain relief and antibiotics might be on the cards to help with discomfort and ward off infections. Expect some swelling, bruising, and soreness in the breasts – all standard post-op effects. The golden rule? Stick to your surgeon’s advice, from taking your medication prescribed to avoiding heavy lifting and wearing the right compression garments to help reduce swelling.
First Few Days: Easy Does It
During the days following the surgery:
- Plenty of rest is key.
- Avoid tasks that strain the chest, such as lifting heavy items, bending or stretching.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol, as these can increase the risk of complications and hamper healing.
- A healthy diet and staying hydrated promotes healing and reduces the risk of infection.
Easing Back into Activity
Once you’ve had some downtime, it’s time to get moving gradually. Start with gentle activities, such as walking, before gradually progressing to more strenuous activities over several weeks. Always be guided by how you feel; if there’s discomfort, it’s a signal to slow down.
Regular Check-ins with Your Surgeon
Scheduled follow-up appointments with your surgeon are important. They’ll perform a physical examination to assess your healing, ensure the implants are settling well and properly positioned, and check for signs of fluid collections or infection, which are the most common early complications. These check-ins offer peace of mind and guidance for a smooth recovery.
Recognising Potential Postoperative Complications
It’s essential to be aware of potential post-op issues. Symptoms like fever, unusual swelling, or discharge could be signs of infection, warranting an immediate chat with your surgeon, as prompt treatment is essential to prevent the infection from spreading and causing further complications.
Capsular contracture is an uncommon late complication of breast augmentation surgery in which scar tissue forms around the implants, causing them to harden and become misshapen. This can be treated with medication, massage, or surgery to remove the scar tissue and replace the implants. To monitor for this complication, some surgeons will advise patients to see them once every year or two to check the capsules.
Post-op care after breast augmentation surgery is pivotal to ensure optimal outcomes and reduce the risk of complications. By adhering to your surgeon’s instructions, getting ample rest, avoiding strenuous activities and attending follow-up appointments to monitor the healing process, you set the stage for a successful recovery. And remember, with the right aftercare, you can reap the benefits of your augmentation for years ahead.
MBChB(UCT), FC Plast Surg (SA)
Dr Geoffreys is an experienced plastic surgeon with over two decades of practice in various medical fields.
After completing his medical training at the University of Cape Town in 2001, Dr Geoffreys did the appropriate internship and community service years. He then ventured overseas and spent almost two years in Glasgow, Scotland, at the Nuffield Hospital, where his interest in plastic surgery started in earnest. Under the mentorship of some of the leading plastic surgeons in Scotland and the greater UK, he was encouraged to follow his dream.
In 2006, Dr Geoffreys arrived back in Cape Town and went on to complete three years of general surgery training at Groote Schuur Hospital until the opportunity arose to move to the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and start his specialist Plastic Surgery training. He trained at the Johannesburg General Hospital, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, and Helen Joseph Hospital. While there, he was exposed to a wide range of pathologies, including cosmetic procedures, under the guidance of some of Johannesburg's most renowned private plastic surgeons. Dr Geoffreys completed his training and obtained his Fellowship from the College of Medicine of South Africa (CMSA) in 2013. He then spent two years as a consultant in the public and private sectors, where he honed his skills in complex reconstructive work, including microsurgery and cosmetic surgery. Dr Geoffreys strives to provide clients with professional and high-level care, no matter their procedure.