Does Breast Augmentation Hurt?

Question: Dear Dr. Dee: I am deathly afraid of pain. I really want to get breast augmentation because I got robbed in that department (my sister got it all, and I have almost nothing). How much pain is associated with breast augmentation surgery?

Answer: Dear A: Many patients are surprised at how little pain they have after surgery. There will be some discomfort from any type of surgery, but we can do things to reduce it. For example, I put in some long acting anaesthetic solution into the implant pocket at the end of the operation. This will reduce the tight feeling and discomfort from the operation for several hours. Just like when you stub your toe, the most pain that you feel is right after it happens. Surgery is the same way, when most of the discomfort occurs immediately after the operation, and it then subsides. By blocking the pain early on with anesthetics, and then taking the recommended medications, most women have little problem getting through the postoperative routine.

Operations that place the implant under the muscle generally are more uncomfortable than breast augmentation over the muscle. How the surgery was done also makes a difference. Patients who undergo a precise pocket dissection in general have less pain than those who have a ‘blunt’ dissection (where tissues are torn rather than cut precisely). There is a wide variation in pain tolerance, but there are special methods that can reduce the total amount of postoperative discomfort. Getting back to your normal routine as soon as possible is part of a good recovery plan.

I encourage all my patients to get out and do stuff the day of surgery. I ask them to take a shower in the evening of surgery and go out for a light meal with their friends. Washing and blow drying your hair is great therapy post op. Not every surgeon agrees with this philosophy, but that’s why you should go out and find one that suits you! You should not base your decision on just on price, but on quality of service, your relationship to the doctor and the clinic staff, and your level of comfort with all the decisions that go into getting a successful result.

A bit of anxiety or nervousness is normal, and sometimes it helps to speak to a patient that has undergone the operation to understand better how you might feel. We have some volunteer patients who can speak to you. To protect their privacy, we will give them your contact information, and they can contact you after you have been seen in consultation.