Breast Surgery Post-Operative Care

Breast Massaging

After the surgery, you may need to massage your new breasts, depending on the type of implant that you have. Textured-type implants do not require massage because this type of implant is designed specifically to adhere to your own breast tissue. Massaging it will actually prevent your breast tissue from integrating into the implant; therefore, massage is not recommended for at least one month after the procedure.

For the smooth-type implant, massages may be needed. If massaging is indicated for you, then you will be instructed to do so 5 days after the surgery. If you experience discomfort during this time, then you can start the massage 1 week following your procedure. The massage should be performed 3 times a day (morning, daytime, and evening) for 1 month. You will be instructed if further massage is needed.


Whether you have undergone breast surgery or not, you should have annual breast exams. The main purpose of the breast exam is to detect breast cancer. Annual breast exams should be performed for all ages, and all women past 35 years of age should also receive yearly mammograms. Mammograms can be used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. This type of mammogram is called a screening mammogram.

Screening mammograms usually involve two x-rays of each breast. Mammograms can also be used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign or symptom of breast cancer has been found. This type of mammogram is called a diagnostic mammogram. Signs of breast cancer may include pain, skin thickening, nipple discharge, or a change in breast size or shape. It is important to inform the mammography facility about breast implants when scheduling a mammogram. The technician and radiologist must be experienced in x-raying patients with breast implants. Implants can hide some breast tissue, making it more difficult for the radiologist to detect an abnormality on the mammogram. If the technician performing the procedure is aware a woman has breast implants, steps can be taken to make sure that as much breast tissue as possible can be seen on the mammogram.

• Minimal activity for first 3 days after the surgery. Light walking is fine.
• Remember to position yourself as you have been instructed, with your head and shoulders elevated.
– Leave the bra in place as it helps with the swelling. At the time of the post-operative visit the bra will be removed.
– No heavy lifting, pushing or pulling for a minimum of one week.
– After 1 week, full range of motions with your arms is permissible; lifting is restricted to 5 pounds or less.

You can expect:
• To return to non-strenuous work within 3-7 days.
• Moderate discomfort, which should be relieved by the medications. Also placing well-padded ice bags high on the chest often relieves discomfort. Moderate swelling of the breasts and abdomen.
• Bruising around the breasts.
• Some bloody drainage on the dressings.

Call the office if you experience:
• Severe pain not responding to medications.
• Excessive swelling or swelling that is greater on one side than the other.
• A bright red spot on the bandage which continues to enlarge.
• Incisions that appear to be opening or becoming very red, hot to touch or containing pus.
• A fever higher than 101 degrees.
• Any signs of increasing firmness of one or both breasts.

As time goes by and your are healing, the following guidelines apply:
• You will have swelling for about a week before it begins to improve. The amount of bruising is different for each patient, as it is the length of time for it to resolve.
• Return to strenuous activities in 4-6 weeks.
• Final bra size can be determined within 10-12 weeks.
• If you notice any signs of increasing firmness of one or both breasts, even months after the operation, please make an appointment for evaluation.
• Certain types of bras are not recommended until at least 6 months after surgery. Check with your surgeon on what type of bra to purchase.
• After you are cleared to do so, you may wear a bra of your choice.