The decision to undergo breast reconstruction is a milestone that involves a series of stages and a carefully outlined breast procedure timeline. Right after the procedure up to the one-year mark, each phase plays an important role in the overall success and satisfaction of the reconstruction process and results.
After breast reconstruction, your plastic surgeon will provide special instructions to ensure that you will experience the best healing process and results. A surgical dressing is applied and secured with adhesive plastic strips to keep the breast dry and clean while promoting incision healing.
Upon waking in a recovery room, the effects of general anesthesia will gradually wear off. This will leave a groggy feeling. Patients should expect minor pain, bruising, and swelling in and around the breast.
Sensations of tightness or pulling in the chest are common but will fade over time. Fatigue and low energy can persist for several days. To facilitate drainage, a tube will be inserted in the reconstructed breast, and continuous use of support or compression garments is essential for a quick and smooth recovery.
The length of your hospital stay depends on the type of breast reconstruction. The plastic surgeon may request for you to have a short hospital stay. This will help observe the progress of recovery.
Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy
Typically, patients who have undergone breast reconstruction immediately after mastectomy are discharged within two days.
Free Flap Reconstruction
Free Flap Reconstruction is a more intricate procedure involving tissue from another body part. This procedure requires up to five days of hospital stay.
Patients can discuss surgical approaches with the plastic surgeon to minimize the length of the hospital stay, considering that health insurance often covers associated costs.
First Days at Home
Upon returning home, a comprehensive aftercare program becomes essential in the ongoing healing and recovery process. A commitment to this program significantly influences the results.
Patients are expected to:
- Continue wearing surgical bras and support or compression garments.
- Witness bruising and swelling, causing the reconstructed breast to differ from expectations.
- Maintain dressings for cleanliness and dryness.
- Avoid heavy lifting, excessive bending, strenuous activities, and sexual activities.
- Emotional adjustments are common during this period, underscoring the importance of having a supportive presence during your breast reconstruction recovery period.
One Month Post-Reconstruction
Around a month after the breast reconstruction, swelling gradually decreases. Patients should anticipate:
- Eased pain with occasional discomfort.
- Adjustment to new body contours, accompanied by emotional challenges.
- Recommendations for light physical exercise to regain strength.
Six Weeks After Surgery
With consistent adherence to the aftercare program, patients can expect the following six weeks post-surgery:
- Resume light activities.
- Return to work if it doesn’t strain the chest.
- Continue physical exercises for complete adjustment to your new breast.
Three Months Post-Reconstruction
At the three-month mark, the breasts are fully healed. Patients can consider nipple reconstruction options such as nipple sharing, skin graft, skin flap, or medical tattooing. This phase refines the initial results and enhances the overall appearance of the breast.
One Year Post-Surgery
Review the results of your breast reconstruction one year after the surgery. Collaborate extensively with your plastic surgeon throughout this transformative journey. Notice fading scars, regained sensation, and enhanced emotional control.
For those who are interested in learning more about scar reduction, a laser treatment can be recommended by our team.
Schedule Your Consultation
Kessler Plastic Surgery offers comprehensive support from surgery to full recovery. For those planning breast reconstruction after mastectomy or are interested in other breast procedures, schedule your consultation with us. Our surgical team is dedicated to guiding you through every stage of the process.