One of the biggest areas of controversy after breast augmentation concerns the optimal sleeping position. Many plastic surgeons tell their patients not to sleep on their stomach after surgery. The length of time varies, but usually, plastic surgeons tell their patients to avoid tummy sleeping for 2-12 weeks postoperatively. So what’s the truth?
The first thing to know is this: sleeping on your stomach will not make your breast implants more prone to rupture. Although, occasionally, implants have been known to rupture after being subjected to excessive forces (i.e. seatbelt injury or mammograms), they are designed to withstand tremendous force. The amount of force required to induce breast implant failure has been demonstrated to be greater than one thousand pounds; as a point of reference, the average mammogram exerts approximately 32 pounds of force. When implants break after being subjected to force, the likelihood is that those implants were likely going to fail for other reasons. Given that, it is fair to say that sleeping on your stomach will not make you more likely to break your breast implants.
So what can go wrong? Virtually all large breasted women or women who have undergone breast augmentation will tell you that sleeping in the prone position (on their stomach) causes their breasts to move laterally (outward) and downward. In the first few weeks after breast augmentation, while the body is forming a new capsule around breast implants, the implants shifting into an abnormally low and or lateral position could lead to a worse cosmetic result. Even worse, those results can remain permanent without revision surgery. For that reasons, virtually all plastic surgeons tell their patient to lay on their back or upright in a recliner for at least a few weeks after surgery.
What about later? Does sleeping position matter a few months or years after surgery? The answer is a most definite….maybe! In women who are prone to breast implant malposition, or the implants drifting downward or outward, the force placed on the implants while sleeping on the abdomen may allow the implants to gradually shift in position over time. Other women, with thick breast tissue, thick pectoralis major muscles, or strong capsules around their breast implants may not experience this problem at all. The women most as risk are thin women with very little breast tissue, women who didn’t have a well-formed breast crease before surgery, women whose implants are disproportionately large, and women with “bad genes” whose tissues simply aren’t strong enough to support their breast implants while laying on their stomach.
The bottom line: If you have breast implants, the safest position to sleep in is on your back. In addition to its other benefits, which include prevention of back and neck pain, reducing the incidence of acid reflux, and minimizing wrinkles, sleeping on your back may just keep your breast perkier too!