Breast Augmentation: How Much Does It Hurt?

By Dr. Ted

People experience pain differently – some are more sensitive than others, and according to an article on, both biological and psychological factors are at play.

After performing thousands of breast augmentations, talking with women at their first postoperative visit, and reviewing the results of a patient questionnaire that asks them to rate their level of pain/discomfort on the first few days after surgery, I’ve discovered that women usually describe the feeling as discomfort, not pain.

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For three days after surgery, on average, women who have had children tell me that they feel like they did when their breasts were fully engorged with milk after childbirth. During recovery, women who haven’t had children describe the feeling as tightness, burning or pressure. The discomfort usually starts to ease up significantly on the fourth day after surgery. About 90 percent of my patients say they are comfortable enough to return to work in an office setting on the fifth day after surgery.

I prescribe medications to make patients more comfortable during the recovery period. These include a narcotic, muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory. While some women take all three as prescribed, others might just take the anti-inflammatory and an occasional pain pill. They might take the muscle relaxant to help them sleep at night.

pp4In addition to oral medications, some surgeons also give their patients a pain pump. They will insert a catheter (a small tube) near the surgery site at the end of the procedure. The tube is attached to a pump that automatically and continuously delivers a local anesthetic for several days after surgery.

I’m not a fan of the pain pump for the following reasons:

  • It can act as an entrance site for bacteria.
  • The patient can’t increase the pump’s rate because too much medication would be toxic.
  • When the patient sleeps, she has to be careful that the device isn’t under the covers or on the floor, because the tube could be pulled out.
  • The catheter site and pump have to be protected from water, making showering more difficult.
  • The device has to be removed at a post-op visit.
  • Most importantly, I find that post-op discomfort can be managed well with oral medications.

Women who must use their arms to lift, push or pull (such as nurses, hairstylists or waitresses) normally return to work toward the end of the second week, around the 14th day after surgery. Although they may experience a little discomfort, they manage and are fully good to go by the third week.

Titbit: Researchers report that redheads, smokers, and people who are obese report more pain. Also, depression and anxiety can make someone more sensitive to pain.

Why did “The Scoop on Breasts” go to Hollywood?

Because it got an offer it couldn’t refuse! GBK Productions of Hollywood invited us to participate in their pre-Oscar luxury lifestyle gift lounge in honor of the 2013 Academy Awards. That meant our book would be part of the “swag bags” and we’d be there to hand it out.

Wayne Knight (Newman)

Wayne Knight (Newman)

The event took place in beautifully designed suites in the Sofitel Hotel in West Hollywood on Feb. 22 and 23. Gifts included exotic all-inclusive trips, expensive watches, dazzling jewelry, silk bedding for dogs, Viva Diva wines, gourmet cookies from Cookie Daddy, a $3,000 gift certificate for a ride on a private jet – and our book about breasts.

College age men and women were hired to escort each star from room to room and to carry their very duffle bags that were so big they could hold a body. By the end of the day, the bags were so heavy with gifts that some of the escorts had to drag them down the hall.

CCH Pounder (Law & Order, Avatar)

CCH Pounder (Law & Order, Avatar)

As each star arrived, their escort would hold up a clipboard with their name and most important roles on the back, so we could see who was coming. We couldn’t help noticing that when people entered our room, their eyes were drawn right to our 6-foot-tall banner displaying our Scoop On Breasts book cover and breasts that were almost 2 feet tall!

We gifted each celebrity with a copy of the book and a $1,000 gift certificate toward cosmetic breast surgery performed by Dr. Ted. (Maybe they can use their jet gift certificate to get to Philadelphia.) We also asked them to autograph our banner.

Most people signed their name around the outside of the sign until Tony Dennison (Major Crimes) broke the ice and autographed the right breast. He noted that it wasn’t the first breast he had ever signed. Next up? Sugar Ray Leonard, who was in attendance to promote his foundation that supports Juvenile diabetes research. He wrote “Be a knockout!” right across the cleavage.

Sugar Ray Leonard

Sugar Ray Leonard

The actors and actresses were friendly, gracious and generous with their time. Some asked serious questions: How long do implants last? Can you breastfeed after you get them? What inspired you to write the book? Others joked a bit and Dr. Ted joked right back. How could he resist telling a joke to Richard Kind, who played cousin Andy on Curb Your Enthusiasm, or to Terry Crews, who made him laugh out loud in White Chicks and The Expendables.

Terry Crews

Terry Crews with his wife and the authors

Although we wanted to give the stars the scoop on breasts, many of them already had it. Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon a Time) and Pamela Adlon (Californication) both had roles in the 1997 film Breast Men, which starred David Schwimmer and Chris Cooper as the doctors who created breast implants. The movie was promoted as “Two young doctors with a dream of making it big  . . . really big.”

We are certain that Wayne Knight (Newman on Seinfeld) is acquainted with breasts. He might have been hanging out in Jerry’s apartment when Jerry said, “Looking at cleavage is like looking at the sun. You can’t stare at it. It’s too risky. You get a sense of it and then you look away.” And he probably saw a pair or two when he appeared on Nip/Tuck, the show about two Miami plastic surgeons. Evan Handler now plays Charlie Runkle on Californication. He was one of the stars of HBO’s Sex and the City – he was Charlotte’s divorce lawyer and later her husband. We suspect he saw plenty of breasts on that set.

Dr. Ted was tickled to meet Chazz Palminteri, who he loved in Analyze This, and Bruce McGill, the sheriff in My Cousin Vinny. He’s seen both movies so many times that he can recite their lines.

Camilla Luddington (Grey's Anatomy)

Camilla Luddington
(Grey’s Anatomy)

I was thrilled to meet Newman (he makes me laugh just by looking at him) and Bruce Greenwood, who I had seen two nights earlier starring opposite Denzel Washington in the film  Flight. We gave our book to Jayson Blair, a handsome young actor on The New Normal; soon after he tweeted this: “My lady @TheRue has been reading this book for the last hour non stop. It’s brilliant!” TheRue is Rumor Willis, daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. We love to imagine the book sitting on her coffee table.

Back at home, we turned on the TV and were excited to see some of our new celebrity “friends” on Scandal and Shameless and House of Lies. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for us. We’ve almost used up our 15 minutes of fame.