Breast Augmentation for Gender Affirmation: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

Breast augmentation surgery for gender affirmation changes the size and shape of your breasts to align with your gender identity. The doctor placed implants under the breast tissue or chest muscle. An implant is a soft silicone shell filled with a saltwater solution or silicone gel. To place an implant, the doctor made cuts (incisions) under the breast or around the nipple.

You may have soreness, swelling, and mild bruising. You may have a pulling or stretching feeling in your breast area. You may lose feeling in your nipples. This may be short-term. But it may not. You will have scars from the cuts, but they will fade.

You may need pain medicine for a week or two. You may get tired easily or have less energy than usual for several weeks after surgery. Most people can go back to work or their normal routine in 3 to 6 weeks.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?


  • Allow your body to heal. Don't move quickly or lift anything heavy until you are feeling better. Do not lift anything over your head for 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • You may shower 24 to 48 hours after surgery, if your doctor okays it. If you have a drain, follow your doctor's instructions for showering. Do not take a bath or soak in a hot tub for about 3 months.
  • Sleep on your back with your head and shoulders raised with a pillow. This will help keep your implants in place and prevent them from slipping or shifting.
  • Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • Your doctor will tell you when you can return to work. This will depend on the surgery you had and the type of work you do.
  • Be active. It can help prevent problems and help you recover. Walking is a good option for many.


  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • If your bowel movements are not regular right after surgery, try to avoid constipation and straining. Drink plenty of water. Your doctor may suggest fiber, a stool softener, or a mild laxative.


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines, including hormones. Your doctor will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • Store your prescription pain medicines where no one else can get to them. When you are done using them, dispose of them quickly and safely. Your local pharmacy or hospital may have a drop-off site.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • If you were given medicine for nausea, take it as directed.

Incision care

  • If your doctor gave you specific instructions on how to care for your incision, follow those instructions.
  • You may be wearing a tight elastic bandage after the surgery. Your doctor will tell you when you can switch to wearing a special bra. You will need to wear the bra all the time for several weeks, except when taking a shower.
  • Ask your doctor when it's okay to wear an underwire bra. Choose a bra that is supportive and doesn't put too much pressure on the healing incision.
  • If you have strips of tape on your incision, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off. Or follow your doctor's instructions for removing the tape.
  • Wash the area daily with warm water, and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. They can slow healing.
  • Keep the area clean and dry.

Other instructions

  • You may have one or more drains near your incision. Your doctor will tell you how to take care of them.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for scar care. Protect scars from the sun when you are outdoors. If the area isn't covered by clothing, use sunscreen.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
  • You are bleeding from the surgery site, and it won't stop with pressure.
  • You have symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • You have symptoms of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in the calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Swelling in the leg or groin.
    • A color change on the leg or groin. The skin may be reddish or purplish, depending on your usual skin color.
  • Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
    • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.