As with all surgeries, ensuring that you are maintaining proper post-operative practices is crucial for the healing of your body and the location of the operation. Breast augmentation surgery is no different in terms of healing and will make everyday activities challenging to adjust to, especially sleeping.
So how do you actually get sleep after breast augmentation surgery? First and foremost, you will want to get in the habit of sleeping on your back while slightly elevated. Everyone’s healing time is different, but you should plan for your surgery to take between 8-12 weeks to heal. The length of time for changing your sleep patterns will largely depend on the regimen given to you by your surgeon.
Why Should I Sleep on My Back?
If you’re wondering what the difference is for sleeping after breast surgery and why it is typically recommended that you sleep on your back, what it boils down to is pressure. When it comes to implants, and considering the incision point itself, more pressure equals more problems. Here are a few of the reasons why it’s essential to ensure that you are sleeping on your back for the suggested amount of time.
- It will be more comfortable. As you can imagine, when you are sleeping while you are also trying to heal, one of the very last things that you want to do is add more pressure to the place where you are in pain. Sleeping on your stomach will place unnecessary weight onto your healing breasts. Sleeping on your side is possible after some time; however, if you’re used to sleeping on your stomach, it will be very easy for you to roll over into old habits when you are asleep.
- The scar tissue hasn’t formed around the implant. During the first couple of months of post-operation healing, your body will be regenerating scar tissue around the new implants. This scar tissue develops in the pocket created by the surgeon and helps to keep the implants in place. By sleeping on them, if you’re on your stomach even partially, the implant can be pushed to a different part of the pocket, affecting the symmetry and placement. When an implant moves from its location, it’s called Breast Implant Displacement, and depending on how significant the shift is, you may need to undergo surgery again to fix it.
- To help with swelling and avoid fluid build-up. As mentioned, avoiding pressure is key. The more weight you place on the surgical incision site, the more blood flow you will have to the area. Increased blood flow in this way can disrupt any stitches and prolong the healing process. In addition, the elevated back position will encourage gravity to help minimize the swelling faster.
- It’s better for your mobility. Right after your surgery, you will likely be advised to avoid using your chest muscles as much as possible. Even if you don’t realize it, getting in and out of bed does require using those muscles. So in order to minimize the usage, the elevated position will put you in a position to be more comfortable when getting up and laying down. You should be able to lay flat after about two weeks, but be sure to consult your plastic surgeon.
How to Sleep After Breast Augmentation
Getting to sleep on your back will likely be the easy part. Staying on your back after you have fallen asleep if you’re not typically a back sleeper, may be a little more challenging. To help yourself keep the position try a few quick tips:
- Prepare in advance. Try training yourself to sleep on your back a few weeks before the surgery so that you’re not dealing with new breasts and a new habit at the same time. Giving your body plenty of preparation beforehand gives you the benefit of avoiding painful or costly implications if you accidentally roll onto your side or stomach.
- Create a barrier. Training to sleep on your back after breast augmentation surgery is slightly different from attempting to change your sleep position on a regular day. You want to ensure that you don’t roll, but you also want to keep your head and shoulders slightly elevated. Do this by using a wedge pillow, with one long body pillow on each of your sides (rest your arms on these pillows), and one pillow under your knees to help with lower back pain. I’ve personally had the best luck using Xtreme Comforts Wedge Pillow (link to Amazon) to keep slightly elevated, and using two BioPEDIC Body Pillows as a barrier to keep from turning over in your sleep!
If you feel that you need a little more help retraining your body, we have a great article with a few additional ideas on how to stop sleeping on your stomach.
Other Sleep Considerations
Throughout the healing process, you will be very aware of how your surgery is coming along. As you begin to feel more at ease with the change in your body, be sure to stay on top of your surgeon’s recommendations, including:
- Take pain medication. After the first few days (or weeks), you may be able to get through the day without taking any pain medication, which is excellent. However, when you sleep, you may want to continue to take them. This will help to ensure that your sleep isn’t broken, and you don’t wake up in discomfort. Proper pain management will be beneficial when it comes time to sleep. If the prescription medication is too much, try over the counter options.
- Aim for at least eight hours. Most of our body healing takes place when we are asleep. After implant surgery, it’s best to get as much sleep as possible to promote blood flow to the tissues and muscles, which carries the necessary nutrients and oxygen for a speedy recovery. If you can, take advantage of your time off by taking naps on the couch or in a recliner.
- Use supportive bras. Ask your plastic surgeon how long you should plan to wear a post-op or sports bra, both during the day and when sleeping. Some doctors recommend bandeau tops as well. Supportive bras can help keep you in place and ease you into the added weight – especially if you chose large implants. I highly recommend the MARENA Recovery Post-Op Bra (link to Amazon) which has adjustable compression for the best possible support!
- Avoid big meals. Heavy dinners should always be avoided before bed as they can lead to bloating, heartburn, and acid reflux. In this instance, it’s usually recommended that you don’t sleep on your back, so you will not only be uncomfortable, but you will also struggle to fall or stay asleep.
- Avoid excess drinking. Alcohol is an inhibitor of sleep, so while you are in the early stages of healing, you may want to cut back on anything that prevents you from having a restful deep sleep. You also want to avoid potential accidents and poor decisions that sometimes go along with heavy alcohol intake!
- Limit other inhibitors too. While you’re at it, it’s always best to cut back on any caffeine intake a few hours before bed and try to put the phone down at least 30 minutes before as well. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation or reading. This can help you relax and relieve tension in your muscles. By mentally preparing yourself for sleep, you can try to avoid the tossing and turning that often comes with restlessness.
Breast Augmentation Sleep FAQs
Here are some answers to top questions about sleeping after breast augmentation surgery.
How long should I plan to sleep on my back?
After consulting with your plastic surgeon, you should be able to start sleeping on your side by six weeks post-op or after your post-op follow up appointment at roughly 4-6 weeks.
Will I rupture an implant if I sleep on my stomach?
It is incredibly unlikely. Breast implants are intended to be able to withstand substantial amounts of force. While it is possible for them to rupture under trauma (such as a car accident), the weight of your body is not enough to break through the implants. Sleeping on your back is a suggestion for optimal healing and comfort.
What if I wake up on my stomach or side?
If you went to sleep on your back but have managed to wake up on your side, the best thing you can do during healing is to continue to be persistent with sleeping on your back. Simply commit to returning to your back. There shouldn’t be any permanent damage if you continue to change positions when you realize that you have rolled onto your stomach or side.
Am I sleeping too much?
It’s natural to feel tired or sleepy up to 24 hours post-op due to the anesthesia. After that, the pain medication that was prescribed to you will also likely have sedative effects. If you believe that you are sleeping too much after your breast augmentation surgery, consult with your surgeon.
As always, when it comes to healing and wellbeing after surgery, it is imperative that you contact your surgeon with any pressing concerns or issues. If possible, maintain a detailed account of all sleep disturbances that you believe relates to your breast augmentation.