Preparing for Breast Surgery
A little planning goes a long way
Preparing for breast augmentation doesn't have to be a stressful time if you do a little planning and follow the guidelines set forth by your plastic surgeon. Careful preparation is the best way to reduce stress and make sure everything goes smoothly. If you get the little things out of the way, you can use your recovery period as a time to relax and look forward to your new appearance.
Breast Augmentation Pre-op Planning Tips
This section presents a series of tips to help you prepare for breast augmentation surgery and the subsequent recovery process. These tips are general guidelines only — you should always follow the guidelines and advice offered by your plastic surgeon.
To prepare for your breast augmentation procedure, print out our Pre-op Planning Checklist. This list of suggestions includes medications, things to do around the house and keeping yourself entertained during your recovery.
- Your plastic surgeon will provide you with specific instructions for medications and vitamins to take before and after surgery. It is very important that you follow all instructions given to you by your doctor.
- Discontinue taking medications or vitamins that thin the blood at least 2 weeks prior to surgery. These include aspirin-containing products, anti-inflammatories and vitamin E. Take medications containing acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, in place of aspirin or anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen.
- If you are not already doing so, your doctor may ask you to begin taking a multivitamin and vitamin C prior to surgery to help with the healing process afterward.
- Fill your prescriptions for pain medication, antibiotics and any other medications prior to surgery.
Preparing Your Home
- Make sure your home is clean when you leave for surgery. Get caught up with the laundry.
- Take things in your home that you have to reach up for (for example, things on a high shelf or cupboard) and put them on a countertop or table. Stretching for items over your head will be uncomfortable for about a week after surgery.
- Go shopping for groceries to make sure your home is well-stocked with food. Plan to eat small, frequent meals and avoid spicy or fried foods.
- Cook and freeze a few meals for microwaving. Frozen dinners that are low in sodium are another good choice for an easy meal.
- Have foods available that are light on the stomach, such as crackers, soup, applesauce, cottage cheese, oatmeal, jello, yogurt and pudding. These are also good choices for snacks.
- Have comfortable clothing ready for your recovery period, including loosely-fitting shirts that open in the front (avoid pull-over shirts). Sweat pants, pajama bottoms and other pull-on pants work well.
- Have a couple of cotton sports bras without underwire or post-surgical bras on hand. These will provide comfort and support for the first few weeks after surgery.
- Set up a sofa or recliner in your living area with blankets and pillows. Make sure you have plenty of pillows on your bed and arrange them so that you can sleep on a smooth incline. The important thing is to keep your upper body elevated for a few days after surgery to help your breast implants stay in position during the initial healing process.
- Make sure you have a phone within reach and a list of phone numbers you may need to call. Include your doctor's daytime and after-hours numbers.
- Make sure you have plenty of books, magazines, your journal, the TV remote control, a CD player with your favorite CDs, laptop or video games to keep you entertained.
- Put a trashcan nearby in case you become sick.
- Set up your nightstand with a phone, your list of numbers, light snacks, water and something to read.
- Use a pill case or a medications list to help you take your medications and vitamins on schedule.
- Make sure you have a thermometer to take your temperature frequently in the first few days after surgery.
- Prepare several ice packs and use as directed by your doctor to reduce any swelling that occurs. You can use ziplock bags filled with water and frozen, packs of frozen fruits or vegetables or the reusable gel packs available at drug stores.
- Make sure you have a heating pad, hot water bottle or microwaveable pack. Heat is effective for treating back pain caused by lying and sleeping with your upper body propped up.
- Your nipples may be very sensitive after surgery. Use a topical anesthetic cream, or numbing cream, for relief if your nipples become overly sensitive.
- Pain medications taken after surgery can cause constipation. Have a mild laxative or stool softener on hand in case this occurs. Also, drink plenty of water to avoid constipation.
- Make sure you have Kleenex, a supply of wetnaps or baby wipes, a moisterizer and hand lotion.
- Talk to your significant other or a good friend about your feelings and any concerns that you have prior to surgery. They may offer some insights or pose questions that you haven't thought of.
- Keep a journal of your experience with breast augmentation. Keeping a journal is a good way to track your progress and record your day-to-day thoughts. Write down or type in everything from how you are feeling physically to how you feel about your new appearance. Journals can also come in handy when you return to see your doctor.
- You will probably set up a pre-op appointment to review sizing and finalize your choice of breast implants and their size, shape and texture. At this appointment, you will also supply blood for labwork, ask any questions you may have and sign an informed consent for breast augmentation surgery. Informed consent documents are used to communicate information about a surgical treatment and disclose risks and alternative treatments. Be sure to read it carefully and ask any questions you may have before signing.
- You may be asked to get a mammogram prior to surgery, especially if you are 35 or older. This is because breast implants may interfere with detection of early breast cancer during mammograms performed after the surgery. See our section on mammograms for more information.
- If you smoke, your doctor will probably ask you to quit at least 2 weeks prior to surgery. If you can't quit, cut back as much as you can. Smoking reduces oxygen levels in the blood, interferes with healing and increases the risk for complications.
- Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages for at least 24 hours prior to surgery.
- Contact your doctor's office if you develop a cold or illness prior to your surgery date.
- Confirm your surgery time the day beforehand. Your doctor's office will usually call to confirm your surgery time. If you don't hear from the office or aren't going to be reachable by phone, call your doctor's office to confirm.
Day of Surgery
- Shower and wash the surgical areas with antibacterial soap both the night before surgery and the next morning. Wash your hair and shave in the morning.
- Don't eat or drink anything after midnight the day beforehand if your surgery is scheduled for the morning. If your surgery is scheduled for the afternoon, don't eat or drink anything 8 hours prior to surgery. This includes water, gum, mints, etc. Daily medications cleared by your doctor can usually be taken with a sip of water. Be sure not to swallow the water when you brush your teeth.
- Don't wear moisterizers, creams, lotions or any type of makeup.
- Don't wear any fingernail or toenail polish. Your doctor may monitor your oxygen levels during surgery by checking your nail beds. If they turn blue, you aren't getting enough oxygen.
- Remove contact lenses, body piercings, hairpins, wigs and jewelry. Leave your valuables at home.
- Wear comfortable, loosely-fitting clothing. Put on a shirt that buttons or zips in the front rather than a pull-on.
- Report to your doctor's office with your prescribed medications. Plan to arrive 1 or 2 hours prior to your scheduled surgery time.
- Arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery. Take a pillow in the vehicle for comfort on the ride home. Have your favorite kind of crackers and something to drink to help if you experience nausea. Bring along a trashcan in case you become sick.
- Make sure that someone will stay with you the first night and be available to help you out for a few days.