What to expect after implant breast reconstruction surgery?

The times below are average. Everybody is different. You need to listen to your body and adjust your activity accordingly. If you have any questions, please ask.


  • Time for surgery - 2-3 hrs per side (depends on surgery)
  • Time in hospital - 5-7 days
  • Time off work – 3 weeks (office job), 6 weeks (physical job eg. military)
  • Time off driving -2-3 weeks (must be able to do an emergency stop)

In Hospital

5-7 days - you may want to go home with a drain in on day 4-5 if you feel well and would rather be home. (please note: this is not always possible) Daily physiotherapy


Breasts are not used except for breast feeding so as long as you are in your post surgical bra you should be fairly comfortable. You will be taking painkillers for about 3 weeks after your surgery on a reducing dose


In hospital - You will be given a series of exercises to do to begin recovering from your surgery. The physiotherapist will take you through them whilst you are in hospital. You will not lift your arms above your shoulders for 3 weeks after surgery.

You should not lift anything heavier than a brick for 3 weeks after your surgery. Your implant is under your pectoralis major muscle which is your main chest muscle. Any lifting will activate this muscle which will cause swelling.

At home - Continuing exercises from hospital.
At week 3: start lifting arms above your head.
Lower body exercises such as walking.
Can start to be more active.

As you feel better , you will use your upper body muscles more in daily activities eg. Typing, driving, pushing a shopping trolley. When you first start using your chest muscles they will swell. If this happens, reduce activity for a day or two whilst it settles and then start moving again. The swelling is not dangerous but can be uncomfortable.