What to Expect After Breast Reconstruction Surgery
As with any surgery, it is normal to expect some soreness, swelling, and bruising. This can last for a week – up to two to three weeks. During the initial recovery period, patients are typically prescribed painkillers to manage any discomfort. Patients will also usually be advised to wear an elastic support bra to reduce swelling.
Most patients leave the hospital with stitches and drainage tubes in place at the incision sites. A drain is a small tube that’s inserted into the surgical area to remove extra fluid from the body as it heals.
If you go home with drains, your surgeon will give you written instructions on how to care for them and empty them. The surgeon will determine when the drains can be safely removed by monitoring how much fluid is collected each day.
You may also be required to apply medications to the stitches, and/or regularly change your bandages at home. You cannot shower or bath until your surgeon tells you it is OK.
Activity after Breast Reconstruction Surgery
Generally, the majority of women can return to normal daily activities within 2 to 8 weeks after breast reconstruction surgery. However, it may be several weeks before you engage in any strenuous physical activity or exercise.
The length of recovery will depend upon the type and technique of reconstruction used, as well as how well the patient heals. Your surgeon will monitor your condition and provide you with exact instructions regarding when you can resume activities, including exercise and sexual intimacy.
During the first 2 months, it is not uncommon for a woman who is recovering from breast reconstruction surgery to experience fatigue – as well as some restriction of movements, such as lifting the arms overhead.
Healing After Breast Reconstruction Surgery
It can take up to a year or longer for the tissues to completely heal and for scars to fade While the scars never go away completely, they are placed as inconspicuously as possible by the surgeon – and do fade considerably over time. Just be sure to keep scars out of the sun!
Your surgeon will tell you when you can go back to wearing regular bras. This will vary depending on the type of surgery you had. You may wish to avoid underwire bras and lacey or textured fabric for some time – in favor of smooth cottony bras – so as not to irritate the scars or skin.
Women who have breast reconstruction surgery may also go through a period of different emotions as they adjust to their new breasts. This is not unusual, and our caring staff is here to discuss these issues. We can help you find other women who have had breast reconstruction to talk to – which can be immensely helpful. Or, we can refer you to a counselor, support group or mental health professional to help you sort out your feelings.
Screening After Breast Reconstruction Surgery
Typically, if you have had a complete mastectomy, future screening mammograms on your reconstructed breast (or breasts) are not needed. Ask your surgeon to be sure.
However, if you have silicone (not saline) gel implants surgeons generally recommend getting regular MRIs of the implants to make sure they aren’t developing a leak. Usually the first MRI is scheduled 1 to 3 years after the implant surgery and then every 2 years after that. Your breast reconstruction surgeon will explain what is recommended in your case.
Top Bloomfield Hills Breast Reconstruction Surgery
Dr. Ali is a caring and compassionate Bloomfield Hills area board certified plastic surgeon who has helped countless women reclaim their bodies after cancer with breast reconstruction surgery. He will offer you a free consultation to answer your questions and offer you understanding advice about your breast reconstruction surgery options.
If you are battling – or have battled – breast cancer, you are not alone. We are here to help you determine what you want to do, so you can move forward with your best life.