How to Manage Your Pain After Breast Augmentation

Pain and discomfort are common after breast augmentation surgery. You’re likely to feel tired and sore for a few days following your surgery. You may also experience a burning sensation in your nipples for about two weeks, but this will subside as bruising fades.

Sharp, shooting pains and other discomforts in the breast are a common occurrence and a top concern following surgery. Most of your discomfort will be controlled by the medication prescribed for you.

Doctor examining bandaged woman
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The recovery period generally last about five days or less for most patients before they return to daily activities and have minimal need for pain medication. Here are some things to know about the pain you are experiencing and what you can do about it.

Reasons for the Pain

There are a few things about you and your surgery that will have an impact on how much pain you will experience:

  • The size of your implants: The larger your implants, the more pain you will have after your surgery. Lighter weight implants are generally associated with less pain.
  • The position of your implants: Implants placed underneath the pectoral (chest) muscles tend to hurt more post-surgery. This is because the tissue is experiencing more trauma. The less the tissues are traumatized and the less bleeding there is, the better your post-op pain level will be.
  • You're a mom: Some surgeons report that their patients who have given birth to children tend to complain less about pain.

Medical experts note that women who have been through childbirth compare post-augmentation to the breast engorgement that is experienced after having a child.

How to Get Relief

Most likely, your surgeon will prescribe medication to help you manage your pain. If you are not getting adequate relief from the prescribed medication, it may be an indication that you need to see your surgeon. Give them a call. However, popping pills is not the only thing you can do to manage your pain. Consider these options:

  • Use a pain pump. It is a device that delivers numbing medication to the area automatically, for two to three days, when you need it most. Many patients take over the counter pain medication with the pain pump, and this may avoid the side effects of prescription pain medications.
  • Keeping your breasts supported by the surgical bra or elastic bandage/Ace wrap provided after surgery will help to reduce your pain.
  • Do light stretching or exercise. Exercises like arm circles, shoulder rolls, and corner chest stretches can help progressively stretch the pectoralis (chest) muscle. Doing these exercises once an hour following your surgery can prevent the muscle from contracting and shortening which may cause more discomfort.
  • Ask your surgeon about Botox. Botox injections have been studied for preventing pain.

According to a scientific review, patients who had their implants placed underneath the chest wall and then receive Botox injections either during or after the surgery experienced less pain. However, the review only looked at seven studies and the authors state that the assessment of outcomes for this practice is inconsistent and needs more study.

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Article Sources
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  1. Govrin-Yehudain O, Matanis Y, Govrin-Yehudain J. Reduced pain and accelerated recovery following primary breast augmentation with lightweight breast implants. Aesthet Surg J. 2018;38(10):1092–1096. doi:10.1093/asj/sjy071

  2. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Breast Augmentation Recovery.

  3. Chaudhry A, Hallam S, Chambers A, Sahu AK, Govindarajulu S, Cawthorn S. Improving postoperative pain management in subpectoral tissue expander implant reconstruction of the breast using an elastomeric pump. Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2015;97(5):364–368. doi:10.1308/003588415X14181254789484

  4. Winocour S, Murad MH, Bidgoli-moghaddam M, et al. A systematic review of the use of Botulinum toxin type A with subpectoral breast implants. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2014;67(1):34-41. doi:10.1016/j.bjps.2013.09.012

Additional Reading
  • How much pain can you expect after a breast augmentation surgery? American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 2018

  • Slavin SA, Greene AK. Augmentation Mammoplasty and Its Complications. In Thorne CHM, Beasely RW, Aston SJ, Bartlett SP, Gurtner GC, Spear S, eds. Grabb and Smith’s Plastic Surgery, 6th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 2007.

  • Spear SL, Bulan EJ, Venturi ML. Breast Augmentation. In McCarthy JG, Galiano RD, Boutros SG, eds. Current Therapy in Plastic Surgery. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier, 2006.