5 Methods to reduce pain after a breast augmentation with implants Introduction Body image is a real issue nowadays. This is why many women resort to breast augmentation to make themselves happy with the way they look. Sometimes it is the media that influences, sometimes the people around you, and sometimes you just need to feel a boost of confidence and such surgery can help. Still, there are women that hesitate while confronted with the reality of surgery. The main reason is usually the pain they fear; they hear stories or read stories of incredible pain when it comes to plastic surgery, especially on the breasts. There are also horror stories of surgeries gone wrong that ended in months of pain that makes a person fear to go under the knife. The thing is that the general opinion of doctors and the conclusion of most studies regarding the subject of pain is not a thing to fear. Still, you should be aware ahead of time of the means you have of relieving the pain. The “craft” of the surgeon Choosing a doctor for elective surgery is always of the utmost importance. It is advisable to see more than one doctor, check his credentials, maybe see some of his work and talk to previous patients. Why is the doctor important when it comes to pain after surgery? The surgeon can use a lot of means to reduce soreness after the surgery. If the implants are placed over the pectoralis muscle, then the pain is expected to be less significant than when they are placed under. The explanation is quite simple: the muscle itself is being dissected, so it will develop a normal post-operatory spasm. The size of the implant is also a factor. The larger the implant, the more the pain. This is because a bigger implant will stretch your muscles much more, therefore producing more pain. So, a good doctor will probably advise you to use an anatomically correct type of implant. Some doctors use local anesthetics during the operation, thus numbing the nerves in a similar procedure to that happening at the dentist. Some also irrigate the pocket for the implants with these for the pain-free effect to last a little longer. This type of pain medication has been known to last up to 14 hours after the surgery. The dissection must also be made with precision, with as little trauma on the tissues and blood vessels as possible. This will reduce bleeding and swelling and therefore reducing post-operatory pain. There are surgeons that even use a cautery device and cauterizes small blood vessels while they cut; the operation might take longer, but it seems the results in terms of pain are much better. Some reports say that blowing warm air over the patients before the operation can help by reducing shivering (a normal side effect of anesthesia) to a minimum, and in such way, the pain. Medication The classic medication for pain relief, especially after surgery, has always been narcotics. Most surgeons will prescribe narcotics for no more than 2-3 days since that is the time the pain can be expected to be more intense. After this period, anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen can help just as much. There are also patients that need only Ibuprofen or Tylenol. Studies have shown that giving the patient oral drugs like Celebrex and Gabapentin right before the surgery can really help to decrease the post-operatory pain. Celebrex is an anti-inflammatory medicine, and Gabapentin is usually used for epileptic seizures, but it also prevents the increase in sensitivity to pain. After the surgery, your surgeon will also prescribe you some muscle relaxers. Most of the pain does not come from the trauma itself, but from the fact that your muscles will contract and change to adapt to a new shape. However, none of the medication above should be taken without the advice and direct prescription of your doctor! Pain pump Narcotics are still one of the most common methods used for pain control, especially when the pain level is high. But in recent years, doctors and researchers in the field have started to investigate alternative pain medication, one that does not use opioids at all or just very little. Patients have also become aware of such studies and also request information on this subject at preliminary consultations. This is due not only to the addiction that opioids might create but also to all the other side effects they can induce like nausea, headache, constipation, stomach pain, vomiting, sleep issues, altered attention, and mental status. Nausea is a common side effect of surgery, so if it is doubled by the effect of the medication, it can lead to serious problems like a longer hospitalization period. Vomiting uses the chest muscles a lot, so it will put more pressure on breasts that have just undergone surgical trauma. Constipation and bloating are also a common side effect in breast augmentation surgery, so if your medication adds to that, it could be very unpleasant. One alternative to pain medication pills such as oxycodone is the pain pump. During the operation, a tiny little tube delivers numbing medication to the surgical area only. There is no damage to the stomach or liver and there is no nausea or constipation. The medication for this pump is simple over the counter pain medication with less heavy side effects, especially because it is designed to treat pain exactly at its source. This device is removed after 2 to 4 days from the operation when the pain becomes much more bearable. Most patients who used this technique didn’t feel the need of ingesting any other type of pain medication. For those who still used some painkillers together with the use of the pump, the quantities were significantly reduced as compared to those who didn’t wear a pain pump. A good idea should be to talk to your doctor before your surgery and discuss the pump. Exercise It might seem strange for exercise to be a pain management method, especially since one who has just undergone surgery, elective or not, will not feel like exercising at all. There is also a contraindication to do intense physical movements or to lift heavy things after surgery. However, light exercise can really help to reduce your pain and heal faster. A very simple thing you can do is walking. A slow walk can help your blood circulation and can make you feel better psychologically as well. There are also some exercises that you can do to help your muscles to adjust and to reduce the pain you are feeling. This kind of exercise will stretch your pectoralis muscle and will not allow it to contract and therefore produce pain. You can start by doing some shoulder rolls, putting your arms at your sides, and pushing your shoulders to your ears and then gently roll them back. You can also do arm circles by holding your arms straight out and rolling them forward and backward a couple of times. You can finish with some light arm stretch by pulling your arm over your head and trying to reach the other ear. Again, all these movements should be done very gently. Of course, none of the above shouldn’t be made without the consent of your plastic surgeon. Sudden movements or heavy lifting are also absolutely forbidden. An interesting fact is that some doctors noticed that people that who do not exercise at all experience less pain after breast augmentation since their muscles are weaker. Support your breasts It is very important to support your breasts with a surgical bra or an elastic bandage after the operation. This will help you a lot by reducing the pain you will be experiencing. This bra will help blood circulation and therefore reduce swelling. It will also reduce the fluid so as to avoid hematomas and will also protect the incision from infection. The surgical bra will also help with the healing process: it will help the skin to adhere to your new shape, it will keep the implants in position, and will prevent scar tissue from appearing. You should wear this bra for 2 to 3 weeks after the surgery, and then move to a sports bra that opens in the front. During the recovery period, it is important that the breasts are not stretched or moved. Doctors usually recommend a period of up to six months until you can wear a regular bra. Conclusion Pain is usually a subjective matter. It depends on the individual’s sensitivity to the pain, and it depends on your anatomy. But you should always know what to expect and what you need to discuss with your doctor before undergoing a breast augmentation, especially since it is an elective surgery. Some doctors say that women who have already given birth tolerate pain better, because the post-operatory pain is similar to the swollen breasts they had while they were breastfeeding. Others say that older women have fewer pains since their muscles are much looser and more malleable to change. Some say that is just a matter of motivation. However, the most important thing is to listen to your doctor and follow his instructions to the letter.