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FAQ - After Surgery

  • Does Dr. Connall use pain pumps after breast surgery?

    No. Dr. Connall does not feel that these devices enhance your recovery greatly. Our patients do very well with our combination of careful surgical technique and post-operative medication, so that the use of cumbersome and costly devices with tubes and pumps are not needed.

  • What pain medications will I have after surgery?

    Vicodin or Percocet are used. These are combination acetomeniphen and narcotic pain medications. Also, Flexeril, a muscle relaxant that helps with muscle spasm and pain will also be prescribed.

  • How long will I need to take pain medication?

    Most women only take the narcotic pain medication for 3-5 days after surgery.

  • Are there other medications I will be prescribed to take after breast surgery?

    Yes, antibiotics, muscle relaxants, anti-nausea medication are prescribed to be taken before and after breast surgery.

  • How will I remember to take my medications after surgery?

    You will take your pain medication and muscle relaxant as prescribed, when you are uncomfortable and the antibiotic is usually taken twice daily. We will provide a flow sheet to help you log your medication use and schedule. The pharmacist can also provide dosing information.

  • What can I do to limit post-operative nausea and vomiting?

    Tell us if you have problems with nausea after anesthesia. We will provide anti-nausea medications as needed after your surgery. Also, a very light diet is recommended for the first 24 hours after surgery.

  • What kind of bandages will I have after my breast augmentation surgery?

    A simple post-operative bra (like a sports bra) and some small gauze bandages will be placed. No bulky wraps or other bandages are used.

  • How long will I need help after surgery?

    You will need a support person with you for at least the day of and night after surgery. After that you will need some help, but you will also be fairly independent. Most women can return to work, home and/or childcare activities in 5-7 days after surgery. Some patients return to such activity in 3 days, but that is the exception and not encouraged.

  • Do you advocate a rapid recovery after surgery?

    Yes, but not too rapid. Our patients generally recover quickly and tell us that the experience was easier than they expected. But, this is such a special time in a woman's life we don't see a need to push the recovery too rapidly. You should plan on slowing your life down, taking it easy and pampering yourself for at least a few days after surgery. After all, you deserve it.

  • When can I exercise after surgery?

    We recommend that you do not elevate your heart rate or blood pressure for three weeks and do not lift objects heavier than 25 pounds during the first 6 weeks after surgery. After three weeks, you may resume most exercises, except for those that directly involve your chest muscles and lifting greater than 25 pounds.

    Why is my activity limited in the weeks following surgery?

    Our main concerns with exercise following surgery relate to the risk of internal bleeding around the implants, healing of your wounds and resolution of swelling.

  • When can I resume sexual activity?

    Similar to the exercise limitations. Wait at least two to three weeks after surgery. An increase in heart rate and blood pressure can lead to internal bleeding in the first few weeks after surgery. So, be careful and gentle with your body in the first few weeks and let common sense be your guide.

  • What can I do to reduce my scars?

    The two keys to having good scars are sound surgical technique and your own wound healing characteristics (genetics). We will close your wounds beautifully, usually with hidden, dissolvable stitches. So, we will do our part to give you optimal scars. Then it is mostly up to you and how well you heal. If you have healed well with other cuts or surgical scars, then you most likely will heal well again. We do think that scar massage may be helpful. Therefore, at about 5-10 days post-op, we advise that you massage your scars once or twice daily. A lubricant, such as Mederma, silicone gel, vitamin E, Aloe Vera gel, or lotion may be helpful. It is also important to avoid sun exposure to your scars.

  • Should I purchase any over-the-counter scar reduction ointments or bandages?

    We will review scar management with you at your first post-operative visit about 5 days after surgery. For the most part, there is not much scientific data to support the use of most of the ointments available in drug stores. One useful material is occlusive sheeting. To investigate this further, we recommend Curad ScarTherapy clear pads. They are available, over-the-counter, at most drug stores. For more information, see the ScarTherapy website.

  • Should I use ScarTherapy pads on my scars?

    Generally, we would like you to use this scar treatment. This is especially true for those that have a history of poor scarring. For those that heal well, it is probably not necessary, but since there is little downside to using the pads, we recommend them. However, if the pads cause irritation or are too much trouble, then it is fine to not use them.

  • What are some typical symptoms and signs to watch for following my breast augmentation?

      * Tightness in the chest region and stiffness; Tingling, burning or intermittent shooting pain: These are normal experiences as the skin, muscles and tissue stretch to accommodate your implants, and as sensory nerves heal. Pain medication and muscle relaxants will help you cope with any discomfort. Consistent sharp pain should be reported to our office immediately. 
      * Hypersensitivity of nipples or lack of sensitivity: This is normal and will gradually resolve over time. You may also experience a small amount of fluid or milk seeping through the nipples. If this becomes painful or excessive notify our office immediately. 
      * A feeling of heaviness: It is normal for your chest to feel heavy as you adjust to your implants. This will subside within 2-4 weeks following surgery. 
      * Shiny skin or an itchy feeling: Swelling can cause the breasts skin to appear shiny. As the healing process advances, you may also find a mild to severe itchy feeling of the breasts. An antihistamine like Benadryl can help to alleviate severe, constant itchiness. If the skin becomes red and hot to the touch, contact our office immediately.
      * Asymmetry, the breasts look different, or heal differently: Breasts may look or feel quite different from one another in the days and weeks following surgery. This is normal. Although no two breasts in nature or following surgery are perfectly symmetrical, breast massage and time will produce breasts that are similar in shape, position and size.
      * A sloshing sound or sensation: This is not the result of your saline implant filler, but rather of air that is trapped in the implant pocket and fluid that may naturally accumulate. This is perfectly normal and will resolve within 2-4 weeks.

  • For what symptoms or signs should I call the office immediately?

      * A high fever (over 101°), severe nausea and vomiting, continued dizziness or incoherent behavior, such as hallucinations
      * Any pain that cannot be controlled by your pain medication.
      * Bright red skin that is hot to the touch.
      * Excessive bleeding or fluid seeping through the incisions.
      * If one breast quickly becomes larger than the other or bruising that is localized to one breast or region of the chest.
      * Shortness of breath, difficulties breathing, rapid heartbeat.
      * Leg or calf swelling, pain, or tenderness.
      * Severe anxiety or depression.
      * Anything that is concerning and seems out of the ordinary.

    We are here for you, day and night, and we want to know if you are having problems so that we can help.

  • What are my instructions for the day of breast surgery?

      * Rest, but not bed rest:  While rest is important in the early stages of healing, equally important is that you are walking under your own strength. Spend 5-10 minutes every 2 hours engaged in light walking indoors as your recover.  
      * Move your arms as usual.  Lift them over your head and maintain range of motion.
      * Recline with your head and chest slightly elevated above your lower body. You may sleep normally, on your side or back, if you wish. It is not necessary to sleep in a partially upright position.
      * Good nutrition: Fluids are important following surgery. Stick to non-carbonated, non-alcoholic, caffeine-free beverages including fruit juices and water, milk and yogurt drinks. You should drink at least 8 ounces of fluid every 2-3 hours. Eat soft, bland, nutritious food for the first 24 hours. 
      * Take all medication, exactly as prescribed on your Breast Surgery Medication Dosing Chart. 
      * Relax. Do not engage in any stressful activities. Do not lift anything 25 pounds or greater. Take care of no one, and let others tend to you.

  • What are my instructions for the first week following breast surgery?

    During this time you will progress with each day that passes. Your first post-op appointment will be during this first week, in which you will be instructed on implant massage. Remember to ease into your daily activities. In addition:

      * Remove all of your gauze dressings and shower 36 hours after surgery. Take a warm (not hot) shower. Your incisions may seep fluid and some blood for a short time after surgery. Do not remove any steri-strips or surgical glue over your incisions. They will wear off naturally over the next 2-3 weeks.
      * Do not take a bath or hot tub.
      * Wear your surgical bra unless it is uncomfortable for you.
      * No under wire or push-up bras until approved by Dr. Connall.
      * Take all medications as prescribed on your Breast Surgery Medication Dosing Chart.  Take pain medication and muscle relaxants only as needed. You may wish to switch from prescription pain medication to acetaminophen or Tylenol.
      * Do not resume any exercise other than regular walking. Walking is essential every day to prevent the formation of blood clots in your legs.
      * Move your arms as usual. Lift them over your head and maintain range of motion.
      * Maintain a healthy diet.  Do not consume alcohol while taking your pain medication.

  • When can I begin to drive after breast surgery?

    You will receive clearance to begin driving when you are no longer taking pain medication and when you feel you have the strength and stamina to drive safely.

    What are my instructions for my first 1 to 4 weeks post-op?

      * For axillary augmentation: begin wearing deodorant and underarm shaving.You may begin shaving your underarms up to the incisions. You may also wear spray deodorant.
      * Begin your breast massage for 2 minutes twice a day after your first post-op visit with Dr. Connall. We will instruct you on proper technique then.
      * Begin scar management.  We will instruct you on how, and when, to begin scar management. You may use vitamin E oil, Aloe Vera, or an over-the-counter product to facilitate deep massage of your scars.
      * Do not lift anything greater than 25 pounds. No tennis, golf, softball or other sports with similar swinging motions. Avoid aerobic exercise that may cause a lot of bouncing of the breasts. You may resume light exercise at 3 weeks post-op (i.e. walking on the treadmill, going for a bike ride, elliptical machine.
      * No under wire or push-up bras.
      * You may sleep flat. However do not sleep on your stomach. If you are a side sleeper, a soft pillow under your mid-back and shoulders may offer more comfort and support than a single pillow under your head.
      * Practice good sun protection. Do not expose your breasts to direct sunlight or tanning beds. If you are outdoors, apply at least an SPF 30 to the chest area at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Your breast skin and scars are highly susceptible to sunburn, and the formation of irregular, dark pigmentation.
      * Do not take a bath or hot tub.
      * Follow-up with any breast implant manufacturer paperwork and warranty as necessary.

  • What can I expect for the first 6 weeks after my breast augmentation?

    During the first six weeks post-op, healing will progress and your breasts will settle into a more final shape and position. At this point, most breast discomfort, tightness, and tingling should resolve. Any lingering nipple sensitivity or lack of sensation should begin to improve. You may ease into your regular fitness routine; however realize that your upper body may require some time to return to prior strength. Also, after six weeks you may resume swimming and hot tub activities, but remember to practice good sun protection. If you are outdoors, apply at least an SPF 30 to the chest area at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Your breast skin and scar are susceptible to sunburn, and the formation of irregular, dark pigmentation.

  • Are there any breast procedures that I might need drains for?

    Yes, for large breast reductions Dr. Connall will place drains, and in some complex augmentation cases, especially those involving revisions and capsulectomies, drains will be used.

  • What do the drains do?

    The drains facilitate removal of fluid and blood that accumulate in your breasts after surgery.

  • How long will I have the drains in after surgery?

    Usually only 2-5 days.

  • How do I take care of the drains?

    It is easy. You simply empty the drains every 6 hours and measure and record the output. You can shower with your drains in, and maintain normal post-operative activities.