Breast Augmentation Massage: Yes or No?

The topic of massage following breast augmentation has been controversial among plastic surgeons. The purpose behind massage is to help prevent the complication of excessive scar tissue formation that might squeeze the breast implant, create visible mal-positioning and lead to discomfort. These symptoms contribute to a complication called capsular contracture. Scar formation in the breast pocket is the body’s natural response to a foreign substance in the body. Excessive scar formation contributing to capsular contracture may be caused by one or more reasons such as the surgeon’s technique, infection, cigarette smoking and shaving under the arm pits in the first three weeks following surgery. Women who have breast augmentation should ask their plastic surgeon about the need for massage. Every woman’s treatment plan is unique and the recommendation for massage is equally individual for every patient.

Textured Breast Implants vs. Smooth: The general consensus is that textured breast implants should not be massaged because this may lead to interruption of the implant adherence process. The goal of textured breast implants is that the implants should adhere to underlying breast tissue. Though, some plastic surgeons might advise massage for certain patients with textured breast implants. In this case, the patient should ask the plastic surgeon why they are recommending massage. Smooth breast implants are often the type of breast implant that is recommended for massage.

Sub-muscular vs. Sub-glandular Breast Implant Placement: Massage may not be appropriate for women that have had breast implants placed under the pectoral muscles (sub-muscular). Massage may be appropriate for women that have breast implants placed above the muscle (sub-glandular). Women may inquire with their plastic surgeon about the need for massage based on sub-glandular or sub-muscular placement.

The Right Time to Begin Massage: Massage may be required to perform in the first 72 hours following breast augmentation. Alternatively, other plastic surgeons contend that massage may be postponed until six weeks following surgery at a time when the breasts are not sensitive. The time frame for massage is also a topic of discussion. Some plastic surgeons recommend performing massage for three or more critical days following surgery. Others may recommend massage for six weeks or more following the recovery period from surgery.

Massage Techniques: Breast massage may be performed through two primary techniques, including: Pocket Quadrant Exercises (PCE) and Compression Exercise. Pocket quadrant exercise involves a massage for the breast pocket that holds the breast implant in place. Compression exercise focuses on compression techniques. Plastic surgeons will teach breast augmentation patients the appropriate technique at the right time following breast augmentation.

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