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How Long After Breast Augmentation Can I Work?

If you are planning a fat transfer breast augmentation or silicone breast augmentation, you probably have the same question many patients undergoing plastic surgery share: “When will I be able to return to work?” The answer to this question depends on several factors such as your body’s natural rate of recovery, the type of surgery you had, and the type of work you do. In general, you can expect: 

  • Two days of complete rest. After this type of plastic surgery, you won’t need to adhere to strict bed rest. In fact, it’s essential to get up and walk around to expand your lungs and promote healthy blood circulation. BA patients tend to feel better than they expect to in the first few days after surgery, but it’s important not to overdo it even if you feel up to it. Be sure to plan enough time (at least two days) to completely relax without any responsibilities so that your body has the time it needs to heal properly.
  • About five days of pain medication. Most patients will need to take prescription pain relievers for roughly five days after their procedures. Some patients may need pain medication longer or not as long as others. While you’re taking prescription painkillers, it’s important to take certain safety precautions such as avoiding driving, operating heavy machinery and drinking alcohol.
  • A return to work in one to two weeks. When you return to your job depends on how fast your body heals naturally, the type of surgery you had, and the nature of your work. If your job is non-strenuous, you may feel well enough to go back to work within the first week. However, even sitting at a desk all day may be surprisingly exhausting when you’ve just had cosmetic surgery. The more time you can give your body to recover before returning to work, the more comfortable your return will be.
  • A return to full normal activities within six weeks. Even after you return to work, you may need to stick to modified duties for a few more weeks. You should receive some guidelines for easing back into your routine, and by about six weeks post-op, you’ll most likely be ready to resume all your normal activities, in and out of work. Be sure to attend your six-week post-op visit to ensure that your body has healed sufficiently and that it’s okay for you to return to your regular schedule.


Considering the type of work you do


One factor to consider in deciding when to return to work is what your job entails. For example, a patient with a basic desk job may be able to go back to work within three to five days. If you don’t need to lift anything heavier than two or three pounds or engage in any strenuous physical activity, this is probably plenty of time off. However, if your job requires a lot of physical activity or heavier lifting, you may require as much as two weeks or more off work, and maybe even some extra help when you do return. Be sure to discuss your specific job-related responsibilities with your surgeon so that they can give you the best advice for when to plan your return to work.


Considering the type of surgery you had


Which type of breast augmentation you have is a major factor in how long your recovery period will be. Patients who opt for an implant breast augmentation generally experience a much quicker recovery period than patients who choose fat transfer breast augmentation. The fat transfer procedure uses extensive liposuction which is the rate limiting factor.  For implant augmentation, Dr. Burns practices a rapid recovery technique allowing a quick 24 hour basic recovery.  With either method, fat transfer BA patients can return to work in about a week and resume more strenuous activities within two to three weeks.


Individual healing factors


One of the most important factors – if not the most important factor – that determines when you’ll be able to return to work after your plastic surgery is your body’s natural rate of healing and how well you take care of yourself as you recover. All bodies heal at different rates, but what you put into your body, what you avoid, and how much rest and exercise you get can make a big difference. For the speediest healing, try:


  • Taking it easy. Again, you need to be up and walking around, but be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding your activity level carefully. Get lots of rest, do not lift heavy objects, and get plenty of healing sleep.
  • Avoiding alcohol and tobacco. If you smoke or drink, you would have had to quit before surgery, so don’t start back now. Both of these substances can hinder blood circulation, delaying healing. Avoid alcohol and tobacco for at least two months following your cosmetic surgery.
  • Steering clear of tanning beds. Tanning beds can significantly affect your results, especially when it comes to scarring. Tanning can negatively impact your skin quality and healing, which can lead to delayed healing and darker scars. You should avoid tanning beds for at least six weeks after surgery but stay away longer for the most favorable healing and least visible scars.
  • Eating a diet that promotes healing. It’s vital to drink plenty of water and get all the nutrients your body needs to heal properly. Focus on fresh, whole foods, including fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Be sure to include foods rich in vitamin A and vitamin C, as these vitamins are especially helpful for cell reproduction and collagen synthesis.


This information can give you a general idea of when you can expect to return to work, but in the end, everyone is a little different. You should discuss your specific situation with your surgeon and follow their instructions for when it’s right for you to go back to work.