Which plastic surgery is the most painful? 5 common plastic surgeries ranked.

Many people who think about getting plastic surgery are afraid of pain. According to the survey, that we conducted on our social media channels, fear of pain was a certain number one answer to the question “What restrains you from getting plastic surgery?”, followed by the fear of general anaesthesia, fear of bad results and fear of financial burden. Fear is a very natural reaction to something unknown and uncertain. Neuroscientists say that expectancy of pain, as well as beliefs about pain, often induces fear and fear results in elusive behaviour, that pushes back from possibly painful experiences. In this article we will list the most painful plastic surgeries, so you will have an overall idea about the pain you might potentially feel during and after the surgery. Spoiler ahead! The pain is much less than you expect. 

We will start with the considerably least painful surgery and will finish at the most painful procedure. Please be advised, that pain tolerance for every person is different and this order will not be applicable for everyone. 

5. V-line surgery 

Pain level: 3/10

V-line surgery is a very popular plastic surgery in South Korea. It aims to reshape the “U” shaped jaw to “V” shaped, which is by East Asian beauty standards considered aesthetically more attractive. V-line surgery is quite an invasive procedure. It involves ostectomy – bone shaving, which seems painful even when only thought about. Surgery is performed under general anaesthesia, so during the procedure, it is impossible to feel ANY pain. The pain after the procedure is managed by prescribed pain-killer medications. Most patients feel pain and discomfort in jaw joints, but it is bearable. Some patients complain about dry and sore throat for the first week after the surgery. In the case of v-line surgery, the pain level is considerably low – forasmuch as painful might the recovery process might look like. However, more serious than pain is discomfort during the first 2 weeks after the surgery. Depending on the patient, due to limited mobility of the jaw, 1-2 weeks they can intake only liquid or soft foods. Also, after bone shaving, the swelling is weighted as more severe than other facial plastic surgeries. The patient might also feel numbness in the lower jaw and lips.

Recovery process of a V-line surgery (face contouring) patient

4. Inverted “T” shaped breast lift or breast reduction

Pain level: 3.5/10

Breast lift with inverted “T” shaped incision is the most effective surgery for severely sagging breasts. This incision is also applicable for macromastia correction – breast reduction surgery. The incision is made along the nipple, vertically from the nipple to under the breasts and horizontally under the breasts. During the surgery, the patient is under general anaesthesia, so they feel no pain at all. Most patients experience moderate or low-level pain in the incision areas for 1-3 days after the surgery, but it easily subsides after taking regular non-narcotic painkillers. The level of pain might be increased in case of more complex surgery, such as mastopexy or reduction mammoplasty that involves implants and fat graft augmentation. Similarly, to v-line surgery, in this case, also discomfort is a much more serious issue than pain. For the first weeks after the surgery, the patient must sleep on their back, might also feel numbness, and are depending on the individual needs are required to wear a special garment for a couple of weeks or months. 

Brest reduction with inverted “T” incision – recovery process

3. Liposuction

Pain level 4/10

Liposuction is a surgery that literally removes a patient’s fat from certain areas. There are various ways to perform liposuction, such as water-jet liposuction or tumescent liposuction. The latter one is considered more painful, but also more effective. Surgery is performed under general anaesthesia or sedation – depending on the surgery area and the amount of the fat to be removed. During the surgery, the patient feels nothing. As liposuction is a rather invasive surgery, the patient might be required to be hospitalized for one day. Many patients describe post-liposuction pain as having a giant bruise in treated areas, they might also experience nausea. Pain can be subsided with regular non-narcotic painkillers. If needed, the patient can also get a pain and nausea control device from the hospital. Aside from the pain patients might feel a certain discomfort when moving, due to pain and numbness in surgery areas, regular sleep might be disturbed. Liposuction involves considerable trauma to small blood vessels under the skin, so the swelling and bruising are usually greater than after other surgeries. A patient is also required to wear special compression garments to ensure the best effect.

2. Implant Breast Augmentation

Pain level 4-4.5/10

Implant breast augmentation is a surgery that enlarges the breasts by implant augmentation. Implants might be silicone or saline, though nowadays, silicone implants are much more popular. The implant is inserted into the breast via under the breast incision, periareolar (around the nipple) incision or auxiliary incision (armpit). During the surgery patients is under general anaesthesia so again, they feel no pain. The level of post-operation pain and the speed of the recovery process is also dependent on the incision areas. Under the breast incision is considered the least painful. The patient might start to feel moderate pain in the incision areas and the implant pocket, after the anaesthesia completely wears off. Implant augmentation may also be combined with an autologous fat graft, that involves liposuction, which can make the recovery process slightly more painful. The hospital provides with pain and nausea control device if needed. The first day might be a little challenging, but regular painkillers help to ease the pain. Similarly, to breast reduction surgery, the patient should sleep on the back for the first weeks or months after the surgery, special breast holding garments are also required.

Patient 4 days after combination breast augmentation – visible swelling and bruising. She’s wearing a special supporting bra.

1. Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

Pain level: 5/10

Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) is a surgery that removes excess skin and fat and then puts it together, making a completely new shape of the belly. The incision is made over the belly button and over the mons pubis. Excessive skin and fat are removed, tightened together, sutured, and fixed. The incision area is greater than in other surgeries and also, the recovery process involves skin and muscle regeneration, which makes it considerably long and demanding. During the surgery, the patient is under general anaesthesia, so there is no pain. However, after the surgery, they might experience moderate pain in incision areas. The overall pain in the abdomen is often described as a “stretch out feeling” while trying to sit up. Therefore, the patient might be advised to sleep in a semi-incline position, refrain from driving and exercising for some time after the surgery. For the first month after the surgery wearing special, pressuring garments are required. 

Recovery process after tummy tuck (abdominoplasty surgery)


All surgeries are not painful during the procedure, but a certain level of pain might be experienced during the first days or weeks after the surgery.  In all cases, the pain is manageable by regular non-narcotic pain killers. As you can see, fear of pain shouldn’t be a reason to restrain from getting the plastic surgery you dreamed of, as the pain is completely bearable.

There are a few conditions to make the recovery process even less painful, from which the most important is the technique and experience of the doctor who performs the surgery. A well experienced and skilled doctor will know how to make incisions and perform the operation with minimal vessel and tissue damage. Post-operative care is also very important, so to ensure your quickest recovery and minimal pain, therefore we advise you to listen well and follow the doctor’s guidance.