Following Breast Augmentation
There are a number of things that can be done to reduce pain, swelling, and nausea and speed your breast surgery recovery. Pain, swelling, and nausea are often the key factors which determine how fast you recover and get back to your usual routine. Explained below are a number of steps Dr. Vennemeyer and Dr. Loftus recommend for their own patients.
Reducing Pain and Swelling:
Breast implant placement under the muscle can either be very painful with an unpleasant breast surgery recovery period, or it can be minimally painful with a much faster recovery. Dr. Vennemeyer and Dr. Loftus recommend some very important steps to increase the likelihood of less pain and fast recovery.
After general anesthesia is administered, Dr. Vennemeyer and Dr. Loftus recommend injecting long-lasting numbing medicine (similar to Novocain, but much longer lasting) on all sides of each breast.
Before closing your skin, Dr. Vennemeyer and Dr. Loftus recommend placing a large dose of the same numbing medicine directly into the area where the implant is sitting. This “blocks” the nerves from sending pain signals to your brain after surgery. Dr. Vennemeyer and Dr. Loftus have also found that this reduces swelling. For a variety of reasons, the body is slow in absorbing the numbing medicine around the implant, and it therefore can last for several hours and even longer. Be aware, however, that this does not work the same on everyone. Although it seems to help in general, every patient who undergoes breast augmentation must be prepared for the possibility of significant pain and a prolonged recovery.
It has been shown in multiple medical studies that reducing the initial pain after surgery markedly reduces overall pain and speeds recovery, and Dr. Vennemeyer and Dr. Loftus have found this to be the case for those in whom pain can be reduced.
Some plastic surgeons advocate placing a pump in the surgical site to infuse numbing medicine for a few days following surgery. Although this is sometimes helpful, it has not been shown to be more effective than placing a large single dose into the pocket at the time of surgery.
You likely will be given a prescription for a narcotic pain medication such as Percocet or Demerol. You should also ask your surgeon about the option of also receiving celebrex, a non-narcotic pain medication and flexeril, a muscle relaxant. Working together, they can be very effective in combating pain and discomfort.
Additional measures to help reduce discomfort include avoiding pectoral exercises (bench press, fly, and push-ups) from one month prior to surgery to two months afterward. This also helps minimize swelling.
One of the most common causes of nausea is pain. Many physicians have found that taking steps to reduce pain has markedly reduced the incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting, even in those who are prone to it. Ask your doctor about prophylactic anti-nausea medications like metoclopramide, ondansetron, phenergan, scopalamine patches, and Emend.
Dr. Vennemeyer and Dr. Loftus offer the following to their patients: decadron (an intravenous steroid which reduces nausea), Zofran (an anti-nausea medication that is so effective that it is routinely prescribed for cancer patients), Scopalamine (a medication which helps motion sickness), and Pepcid AC (this over-the-counter medication is a fabulous drug which further inhibits nausea in surgical patients). These will help with the breast surgery recovery process. In those who are particularly prone to nausea after surgery, Dr. Vennemeyer and Dr. Loftus recommend metocloprmide, phenergan, and emend.
Why so many drugs? Because there are multiple potential causes of nausea following surgery, and each drug targets a different cause. If you are nauseated, it will not be evident which cause is involved. Nor will it be evident which drug will make you feel better. Dr. Vennemeyer and Dr. Loftus recommend starting with I.V. decadron, zofran, scopolamine patch, and Pepcid AC, as this combination works effectively for most.
Learn more about comfort after breast augmentation in our blog.