Post-Surgery Massage Part 2: Breast Augmentation
Whether for medical purposes or strictly for enhancing one’s appearance, breast augmentation is the most popular type of cosmetic plastic surgery in the US. Regardless of why the procedure is performed, all types of breast augmentation surgery are followed by uncomfortable symptoms that can be effectively treated with massage.
What are some of the aftereffects associated with the different types of breast augmentation? Which therapeutic massage modality is best suited for post-surgery patients, and why?
Symptoms Following Breast Augmentation
Normal side effects following breast augmentation surgery include:
- Soreness on and around the chest muscles
- Swelling on or near incision sites
- Pulling or stretching sensation on the skin surrounding the breast area
Types of Breast Augmentation
Removal of the entire breast, most often used among cancer patients
In the case of a radical mastectomy, the axillary lymph nodes and underlying chest muscles (pectoralis major and pectoralis minor) are also removed
A modified radical mastectomy leaves the chest muscles in place, but removes the axillary lymph nodes along with the breast
Removal of a tumor or other types of abnormality from the breast, sometimes referred to as a partial mastectomy or breast preservation
- Breast Reduction
Removal of excess fat, glandular tissue, and skin from the breast
Commonly utilized to alleviate back pain
Restoration of breast(s) to previous appearance, shape, symmetry, and size following mastectomy or lumpectomy
- Breast Implants
A silicone transplant may be inserted, or a fat from another part of the body may be grafted and then transferred to the breast
- Breast Implant Removal
Breast implant removal, also known as explant surgery, may or may not be followed by breast implant replacement or revision
Breast implants should be replaced every 10-15 years
- Breast Lift
Known as a mastopexy, it raises the breasts by removing excess skin and tightening the surrounding tissue
Best Massage Following Breast Augmentation
The best massage modality following breast augmentation is lymphatic drainage massage.
Lymphatic drainage massage is a specialized technique involving slow methodical glides which guide lymphatic fluid towards the lymph nodes. Lymph, a clear-white fluid that attacks waste material in the body, transports the illness-causing debris to the lymph nodes for neutralization. The lymphatic system plays a crucial role in immunity and the recovery process.
The pain, edema, tight skin, and bruising following a breast augmentation are all results of direct trauma to the body. The injuries caused by invasive surgery disrupt the lymph’s drainage process, leading to a bacteria buildup in the body. Through lymphatic drainage massage, the congested lymph flow is manually assisted through the application of carefully directed gentle strokes. The regained lymphatic functioning will then push the post-surgery side effects towards a faster recovery.
How is Lymphatic Drainage Performed Following Breast Augmentation?
At the start of the session, the massage therapist will stimulate the most lymph node-rich areas of the body closest to the chest area. This will involve about five circular strokes inside in armpits and on top of the decollete area.
After the lymph nodes have been awakened, the massage therapist will elevate the patient’s arm over the head. This positioning will encourage gravity to do its work, letting the congested lymph fluid descend towards the axillary lymph nodes. Slow gentle strokes will be applied to the arm, gliding in the direction of the armpit.
Following the treatment of symptoms on and near the upper arm, the upper chest will be addressed. The massage therapist will apply light pressure to the lymph nodes in the neck, and slowly guide the glides towards the lymph nodes in the chest.
If the patient is comfortable having the area below the chest palpated, the skin on top of the ribs and abdomen may also be massaged. The glides situated below the underside of the breast (or previous location of a removed breast) will be carefully pushed towards the armpits. Should there be any swelling or scarring on the abdomen, strokes on the upper abdominal quadrants are also carried towards the axillary lymph nodes in the armpits. If lymphatic drainage massage is applied to the lower abdominal quadrants, the strokes are guided towards the lymph nodes in the groin.
Now You Know!
In the upcoming article Post-Surgery Massage Part 3, we’ll address another popular type of cosmetic surgery.
Author, Licensed Massage Therapist
Katrina Jenkins graduated from Towson University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science and worked as a nurse’s aide briefly before pursuing her true passion. She graduated from the Massage Therapy Institute of Colorado in April 2016 with honors and completed the Touch of Healers Scholarship Program the following summer. She has been a part of the Moyer Total Wellness Team since the summer of 2017.
Fardo, Dean, et al. “Breast Augmentation.” PubMed, StatPearls Publishing, 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482206/.
Gentile, Danielle, et al. “Pain Improvement after Healing Touch and Massage in Breast Cancer: An Observational Retrospective Study.” International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, vol. 14, no. 1, 2021, pp. 12–20, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7892332/. Accessed 6 June 2022.
Monday, March 11. “New Plastic Surgery Statistics Reveal Trends toward Body Enhancement.” American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 11 Mar. 2019, www.plasticsurgery.org/news/press-releases/new-plastic-surgery-statistics-reveal-trends-toward-body-enhancement#:~:text=Breast%20augmentation%20(313%2C735%20procedures%2C%20up. Accessed 6 June 2022.
Sood, Aditya, et al. “Breast Massage, Implant Displacement, and Prevention of Capsular Contracture after Breast Augmentation with Implants: A Review of the Literature.” Eplasty, vol. 17, 21 Dec. 2017, p. e41, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5749369/.
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