Part 1 of our two-part series on breast augmentation answered three of the most common questions our patients ask us here at Eastern Plastic Surgery. In this second part of the series, Mr Frank Lin outlines the risks and recovery factors of the procedure.
Q: What can I expect for the breast augmentation recovery process?
Mr Lin: The recovery period following breast augmentation involves the following process:
The recovery process begins in the hospital. We recommend that all patients stay overnight after surgery for their safety and comfort, as this allows patients to have full-time nursing care in a private room and medications such as intravenous antibiotics (which it would not be possible to administer at home).
We recommend for the patient to rest and take things easy at home in the first week following surgery. The following points should also be considered:
- Dressings should be kept intact (they are waterproof, so showering is possible with care).
- Patients who have undergone axillary endoscopic augmentation may have some discomfort when raising their arms. If this is the case for you, try to avoid this action – you will be able to perform the action again within 1-2 weeks.
- Stay dressed in your garment, as it will help to support the implants.
- Light exercise, such as walking, is highly recommended.
Between 5-7 days after your procedure, a surgeon and nurse review will take place. The wounds will be checked and LED light sessions will commence, as well as scar management.
By the second week after surgery, you should be able to return to your normal daily activities at home.
- Two more sessions of LED will take place.
- Scar management continues.
- Patients who opt to have lymphatic drainage (a gentle massage to encourage the drainage of lymph fluid) will commence this week.
- Some patients will be able to go back to work (i.e. office work) if they so choose.
- Patients can increase exercise, but must aim to avoid activities which involve the arms being lifted above the head.
In these weeks, the patient can gradually return to normal exercises and sporting activities. This is also a good time to refit for new bras as most of the swelling will have resolved.
Q: What are the risks involved with breast augmentation surgery?
Mr Lin: Understanding risks is an important part of the decision-making process, and can often require more than one consultation. We highly recommend that the patient attends these consultations with family members or close friends.
We consider risks under several categories:
- General risks associated with all surgery:
These risks include infection, bleeding and scar problems. Every effort is made to minimise these risks – for example, antibiotics and compression stockings – and we only perform the operations in fully accredited Epworth private hospitals (not in day surgery centres or small private hospitals). Patients are encouraged to stay overnight so that any issues are identified and managed early.
- Specific to breast augmentation:
These risks can include:
- A problem with the implant: These are rare, but the risk does increase with time as the implant gets older. Eastern Plastic Surgery patients are strongly encouraged to consent to free registration with the Australian Breast Devices Registry (ABDR), a new Australian initiative maintained in conjunction with Monash University and established to monitor the quality and long term safety of implanted breast device procedures.
- A problem with placement (rotation and malposition): These problems are also rare and in mild cases may resolve with time. Sometimes revision surgery may be required to correct the implant position.
- Long term problems: Capsular contracture is where the body forms a “membrane” or “scar” around the implant and distorts the shape over time. This is a universal risk associated with any implant surgery, and the risk increases slowly with time (about 5% in 10 years). Once again, every effort is made to prevent this but if it does occur the implant may need to be revised or changed over.
There are other risks but in general the modern breast augmentation procedure, using the latest in implant devices technology, is very safe.