We asked a leading cosmetic surgeon for his advice on how to cope during the recovery process, and to answer some of your questions!
- My cosmetic surgeon has advised that I wear a compression garment for six weeks after my procedure. Why do I need to wear one for so long?
After cosmetic breast surgery, I would usually recommend a support/compression garment to be worn day and night for the first six weeks. The reason for this is to support the surgical site while it goes through the post-operative wound healing process. Patients who remove the garment too early can often get rebound swelling, which they don’t like. The reason for wearing garments for six weeks is that this is the amount of time taken for the majority of the swelling following surgery to settle down and for most of the primary wound healing within the surgical site to take place.
- I love to work out every day and I’m really not looking forward to giving it up while I recover. When is it safe to exercise again after surgery?
I usually recommend a full six weeks of no actual exercise. You don’t want the surgical site being vigorously exercised as that can cause more swelling and bruising and it can slow down the recovery process. If a patient has had breast surgery, then it may be fine to sit on an exercise bike and just use their legs, but so many activities tense up the important core muscles that I’m pretty strict at adhering to the six week rule.
- I can’t wait to go out and buy new bras after my breast augmentation – when can I start wearing underwire or push-up bras?
I typically allow patients to get into normal underwear at six weeks. However, it is sometimes difficult to get into underwired bras that soon. I recommend patients experiment with bras in the shop before buying, and find a bra that fits comfortably.
- How many check-ups should I be expecting after my boob-job? My cosmetic surgeon has only mentioned the first one that will be a week after my procedure.
Following breast or abdominal surgery my follow-up regime is normally a wound check at one week, then a follow-up with the surgeon at six weeks, three months and six months. Then, depending on the procedure, the patient will be discharged. But also patients under my care have access to see me at any point and at any time in the future should they need advice, at no extra charge.
- My cosmetic surgeon advised me to avoid exposing my scars to the sun for at least two months after my breast reduction procedure, but I thought the sun would help the scars heal quicker. Why do I have to avoid direct sun exposure for so long?
Scars are very vulnerable to direct sunlight for two years post-op, not two months. I usually recommend that they shouldn’t really be exposed to direct sunbathing for a full two years, or perhaps after a year so long as they wear factor 30 sunblock and above. The problem is that the scarred area is very vulnerable to ultraviolet light in the first year and then prone to sun damage.
- I keep reading about ‘dropping and fluffing’ on breast augmentation forums – what does it mean?
Sometimes implants will drop a little on the chest wall and this sometimes can make them look a lot more natural and remove some of the unnatural fullness from the upper pole, but sometimes it can leave the nipple rising too high and looking a little odd. ‘Fluffing’; I have no idea what that means, it’s not an expression that I am familiar with!
- I’m really eager to have a breast uplift, but not too keen on the thought of the scars I’ll be left with. Is there anything I can do to minimise scarring?
Breast uplift surgery does involve additional scarring, usually around the nipple and sometimes with a vertical line beneath this in the form of a lollipop scar, and often also with a transverse scar in the crease.
Scars are permanent and if you know where to look they are always there, but as plastic surgeons we have a whole strategy in place to minimise scar visibility. The wounds are meticulously stitched by the plastic surgeon, using stitch materials that minimise scaring. We then use taping of the wound for a whole month post-operatively to minimise movement at the scar, which also reduces the amount of scar tissue that is produced.
From one month onwards we use scar massage to help the scar tissue to soften up and flatten and it can take a full two years for the scar to reach maturation and fade back to normal skin colour. For patients who get slightly raised scars we would often recommend using silicone ointment or silicone tape to help flatten this off too.
So there are a range of strategies that we can advise our patients to use in the recovery period to help minimise scarring.