How to Reduce Bruising and Swelling after Breast Implant Removal

A Guide to Reduce Bruising and Swelling after Breast Explant Surgery

Breast implant removal, also known as explantation, is a surgical procedure that involves removing breast implants from the body. Women may choose to undergo this procedure for various reasons, such as complications with their implants, a desire to change their breast size, or a shift in personal preferences. Whatever the reason, it is essential to understand the process and potential side effects of breast implant removal to ensure a smooth recovery.

In this blog, Consultant Plastic Surgeon Anthony MacQuillan will offer recommendations regarding how to reduce bruising and swelling after breast implant removal surgery.

Common Side Effects after Breast Explant – Bruising and Swelling

Two of the most common side effects following breast implant removal are bruising and swelling. Bruising occurs when small blood vessels beneath the skin rupture, causing discolouration and tenderness. Swelling, on the other hand, is the body’s natural response to surgery, as fluid accumulates in the surrounding tissues. While both bruising and swelling are normal parts of the healing process, there are several steps you can take to minimise their severity and promote a faster recovery.

Are You Ready For Cosmetic Surgery?

Take our 3-minute Quiz

If you’re considering plastic surgery, this quiz will evaluate your medical history, current health status, and personal goals to determine if surgery is the right choice for you.

Recommendations to Reduce Bruising and Swelling

In the days following your breast implant removal, rest is essential for promoting healing and minimising bruising and swelling. Take time off work and other responsibilities to allow your body to recover. Avoid strenuous activities, lifting heavy objects, or raising your arms above your head, as these movements can put strain on your incisions and increase swelling.

Some pain and discomfort are normal after breast implant removal. Anthony will prescribe pain medication to help manage these symptoms. Take your medication as directed, and avoid driving or operating machinery while under the influence of these drugs. If pain persists or worsens, contact Anthony for guidance.

·       Wear Compression Garments

Anthony may recommend wearing a compression garment or surgical bra after your breast implant removal. These garments apply gentle, consistent pressure to the chest area, helping to reduce swelling and support the tissues as they heal. Wear your compression garment as directed by Anthony, and avoid wearing underwire bras or tight clothing that could irritate your incisions.

·       Try Ice Therapy

Applying cold compresses or ice packs to the chest area can be an effective way to reduce bruising and swelling after breast implant removal. Cold therapy constricts blood vessels, decreasing blood flow to the area and minimising the accumulation of fluid in the tissues. Additionally, cold helps numb pain receptors, providing temporary relief from discomfort.

To apply ice therapy, wrap a cold pack or bag of frozen vegetables in a thin towel to protect your skin from direct contact with the cold. Place the wrapped cold pack on your chest for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Be sure to take breaks between icing sessions to prevent skin damage or frostbite.

Begin using cold therapy as soon as possible after your surgery, and continue for the first 48-72 hours post-op. During this time, aim to apply ice packs for 15-20 minutes every 1-2 hours while awake. After the initial 72 hours, you can gradually reduce the frequency of icing sessions as your bruising and swelling subside. Always listen to your body and adjust your icing schedule as needed.

·       Elevate the Chest

Keeping your chest elevated above the level of your heart can help reduce swelling after breast implant removal. Elevation uses gravity to promote fluid drainage from the affected area, minimising the accumulation of excess fluid in the tissues.

To properly elevate your chest, use pillows to prop yourself up while resting or sleeping. Aim to keep your chest at a 30–45-degree angle above your heart. When sitting, use pillows to support your back and keep your chest elevated. Avoid lying flat on your back for extended periods, as this can increase swelling and discomfort.

For optimal results, combine elevation with other swelling-reduction techniques like ice therapy and compression garments. By attacking swelling from multiple angles, you can help speed up your recovery and achieve better overall results. Be sure to follow Anthony‘s specific post-op instructions and contact his team with any concerns or questions that arise during your recovery.

·       Try Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Lymphatic drainage massage is a specialised type of gentle massage that aims to stimulate the flow of lymphatic fluid in the body. The lymphatic system plays a role in removing waste products, toxins, and excess fluid from the tissues. By encouraging the movement of lymphatic fluid, this massage technique can help reduce swelling and promote healing after breast implant removal.

In addition to reducing swelling, lymphatic drainage massage can also help minimise bruising by improving circulation and promoting the reabsorption of pooled blood in the tissues. This gentle massage technique encourages the body’s natural healing processes, leading to a faster and more comfortable recovery after surgery.

While it is best to seek the guidance of a trained lymphatic drainage massage therapist, there are some simple self-massage techniques you can use at home to promote healing. Using light, circular motions, gently massage the chest area, starting at the centre of the chest and moving outward toward the armpits. Avoid applying pressure directly on your incisions, and always use a light touch to avoid causing discomfort or damaging delicate tissues. Perform self-lymphatic drainage massage for 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times daily, or as recommended by Anthony or massage therapist.

·       Use Herbal Remedies

Arnica Montana is a popular homeopathic remedy known for its ability to reduce bruising, swelling, and pain after surgery. Available in oral tablets, topical gels, and creams, Arnica is derived from a yellow-flowered mountain plant. Anthony might recommend using Arnica before and after surgery to promote healing and minimise bruising and swelling.

Bromelain is a natural enzyme found in pineapples that has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Some studies suggest that taking bromelain supplements before and after surgery can help reduce bruising, swelling, and discomfort. As with Arnica, it is essential to discuss the use of bromelain with Anthony before adding it to your pre- or post-surgery regimen.

Several other herbs and supplements may be beneficial in reducing bruising and swelling after breast implant removal. These include vitamin C, which aids in collagen production and wound healing, and quercetin, a flavonoid with anti-inflammatory properties. Ginkgo biloba and grape seed extract are also believed to improve circulation and reduce swelling.

·       Avoid Certain Foods

Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet can help support your body’s healing processes and reduce swelling after breast implant removal. Focus on consuming whole, nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Incorporate anti-inflammatory ingredients like turmeric, ginger, garlic, and omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish and chia seeds. Staying well-nourished will give your body the tools it needs to heal and recover more efficiently.

During your recovery, it’s important to avoid foods that can contribute to inflammation and hinder the healing process. Limit or eliminate processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats like trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, as alcohol can increase swelling and interfere with the body’s natural healing mechanisms. If you’re unsure about whether a particular food is appropriate for your post-surgery diet, consult with Anthony.

·       Stay Hydrated

Proper hydration is essential for reducing swelling and supporting overall healing after breast implant removal. Aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water per day, or more if you’re experiencing excessive swelling or discomfort. Staying well-hydrated helps flush out toxins, reduce inflammation, and maintain healthy circulation. If you find plain water unappealing, try infusing it with fresh fruits like lemon, lime, or cucumber for a refreshing twist.

·       Try Low-Impact Exercises

While it’s important to rest and avoid strenuous activities in the initial weeks after your breast implant removal, gentle exercise can help promote healing and reduce swelling. Anthony usually recommends waiting at least 2-4 weeks before beginning any form of exercise, depending on the extent of your surgery and your individual healing progress.

When you’re ready to begin exercising, start with low-impact activities that don’t put undue stress on your chest area. Walking is an excellent option, as it promotes circulation and helps reduce swelling without straining your incisions. Begin with short, 10–15-minute walks and gradually increase your duration and pace as your comfort level improves. Other low-impact exercises that may be suitable during your recovery include gentle yoga, stretching, and swimming (once your incisions have healed completely).

·       Avoid Certain Activities

To minimise bruising, swelling, and the risk of complications after breast implant removal, there are certain activities you should avoid during your recovery period. These include heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling, as well as any activities that involve raising your arms above your head or putting direct pressure on your chest. Avoid high-impact exercises like running, jumping, or contact sports until Anthony gives you the all-clear.

·       Use Silicone Sheets and Gels

Silicone sheets and gels are widely used to manage and minimise the appearance of scars after surgery. These products work by creating a protective barrier over the scar, which helps lock in moisture, reduce inflammation, and promote the production of collagen and elastin. Silicone sheets are typically worn over the scar for 12-23 hours per day, while gels are applied topically and left to absorb into the skin. Consistent use of silicone products can help flatten, soften, and fade scars over time, resulting in a more aesthetically pleasing appearance.

FAQs about How to Reduce Bruising and Swelling after Breast Implant Removal

Can I use heat therapy instead of cold therapy to reduce bruising and swelling after breast implant removal?

  • While cold therapy is generally recommended for the first 48-72 hours after surgery to reduce bruising and swelling, heat therapy can be beneficial later in the recovery process. Heat can help improve circulation, relax tense muscles, and promote healing. However, always consult with y Anthony before applying heat to your surgical area, and avoid using heat if you have any signs of infection or inflammation.

Are there any specific yoga poses that can help with recovery after breast implant removal?

Gentle yoga poses that focus on relaxation and breathing can be beneficial during recovery from breast implant removal. Some poses to consider include:

  • Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani): Helps reduce swelling and promote relaxation.
  • Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana): Gently opens the chest and promotes relaxation.
  • Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana): Stretches the back and hamstrings, promoting relaxation and stress relief.

Can I use essential oils to help with bruising and swelling after breast implant removal?

  • Some essential oils, such as frankincense, helichrysum, and lavender, are believed to have anti-inflammatory and skin-healing properties that may help with bruising and swelling. However, it’s important to use essential oils safely and with caution, especially after surgery. Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before applying them to the skin, and avoid using them directly on incisions or open wounds. Consult with your surgeon and a qualified aromatherapist before incorporating essential oils into your post-surgery care routine.

How long should I wait before getting a professional lymphatic drainage massage after breast implant removal?

  • The timing of when to start professional lymphatic drainage massage after breast implant removal can vary depending on your individual healing progress and your surgeon’s recommendations. In general, it’s best to wait at least 2-3 weeks after surgery before seeking a professional massage, to allow your incisions time to heal and your body to recover from the initial surgical trauma.

Can acupuncture help with reducing bruising and swelling after breast implant removal?

  • Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to promote healing and balance. Some studies suggest that acupuncture may be helpful in reducing swelling, pain, and inflammation after surgery. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects on bruising and swelling after breast implant removal specifically. If you’re interested in trying acupuncture, consult with Anthony first, and choose a licensed acupuncturist who has experience working with post-surgical patients. Wait until your incisions have healed before beginning any acupuncture treatments.

Further Reading about Breast Surgery with Consultant Plastic Surgeon Anthony MacQuillan

Medical References about Implant Removal