When you are discharged from hospital, someone should be on hand to bring you home and, ideally, be with you for at least a day or two after your procedure as you’ll be feeling groggy after your anaesthetic and will be in considerable discomfort.
In terms of pain, the first week will be the most uncomfortable. Swelling will be at its worst and any bruising will appear.This can be a challenging time for any patient so here’s our advice on how to sail through your first week or so.
1. What to have at home
Put together a recovery pack prior to going into hospital, with any necessary toiletries, medicines, dressings and ice packs so they are close at hand when you return home. Buying a second compression garment is advisable. In the first week you’ll be resting as much as possible, so pile up the pillows and have the TV remote close by.
Our advice: make sure you’ve sorted childcare arrangements and if you have pets then consider booking them into kennels or a cattery for a while as you won’t be up to looking after them.
2. Post-op blues
Emotions often run high before your op.You’ll be rushing round to prepare for your recovery, feeling understandably apprehensive about surgery and excited about the thought of your new breasts.
It is therefore quite common to get the ‘post-op blues’ immediately after or in the first couple of weeks.Your breasts are feeling sore, your body bruised and swollen and you’ll be wondering if it was all a big mistake.
Our advice: make sure you have friends or family on hand so you don’t feel isolated after your surgery. Often just talking about how you feel can help.
Water retention is common after any surgical procedure as it causes the soft tissues to swell. Also a common side effect of general anaesthetic and pain medication is to slow down the intestinal tract.
Our advice: to avoid constipation, make sure you drink enough fluid, have enough fibre in your diet and start moving around as soon as possible. Make sure you have stool softeners on hand.
There is no special diet that you should be on after your cosmetic breast surgery procedure and no foods that you should avoid.You may feel nauseous immediately after the operation as a result of the general anaesthetic, but once you are home you should return to a healthy and varied diet as soon as possible to assist in the healing process. Avoid alcohol in the first weeks after your surgery as it can worsen swelling, increase the risk of bleeding and can undermine the natural healing process.
Our advice: before going into hospital make sure your fridge and freezer are stocked with healthy snacks and easy-to-prepare meals and you may want to organise a supermarket home delivery with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable for later on in the week.
Curious, aren’t you? Even if you don’t feel comfortable asking this question, it’s one that most women want to know: when is it safe to have sex again after surgery. Advice will vary, but generally sex is equated with exercise and most cosmetic surgeons will advise patients not to exert themselves physically in the first couple of weeks after surgery. Anything that raises the blood pressure can increase the risk of bleeding, but most importantly you have to look after your new breasts so avoid manipulation that could displace the implants or damage your incisions.
Our advice: don’t be embarrassed to ask your cosmetic surgeon for their advice about anything relating to your body. When you have been given the go ahead, take it slowly.
Exercise falls into the same category as sex. Every surgeon will have slightly different advice in terms of resuming exercise, but typically you should avoid anything that raises heart rate and blood pressure levels in the first few weeks after surgery. As long as you are healing well, then you should be able to perform lower body exercises after that, but wait for approximately six weeks before you start doing more strenuous physical exertion or weight lifting.
Our advice: follow your cosmetic surgeon’s instructions to the letter and ask if you’re not sure. When you do start to work out then the best thing is to listen to your body – if something doesn’t feel right then stop and wait.
8. Massage and lymphatic drainage
This topic causes quite a bit of controversy among cosmetic surgeons. Some believe that it speeds up recovery by aiding lymphatic drainage, improves results by minimising scar tissue and even lessens the risk of capsular contracture. Other surgeons believe that massage has no impact on the likelihood of tissue hardening around the implant and won’t affect your final results positively or negatively. Discuss this with your surgeon and get their view.
Our advice: if you’re unsure exactly how to massage your breasts there are many instructional videos on YouTube.
9. Post-op check up
Every cosmetic surgery practice has a slightly different routine with post-op check ups, in terms of how many and how often, but you should certainly see the surgeon that performed your op in the first week after surgery.This is their opportunity to assess your breasts and incisions and for you to ask any questions you may have.
Our advice: keep a pad and pen to hand in that first week and make a note of any questions you may have as it can sometimes be hard to remember everything you wanted to ask your cosmetic surgeon.
“We put all our patients on a scar care routine immediately after surgery. We designed a scar gel that contains silicone, arnica and other anti-inflammatory ingredients, which is very good for scarring and we encourage patients to moisturise and massage their scars.”