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What to Expect After Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Breast cancer treatment, also known as a mastectomy, consists of either partial or complete removal of one or both breasts. Soon after this procedure, breast reconstruction is done for minimizing the psychological impact of this treatment.

All thanks to breast reconstructive surgery, women can regain their self-confidence and feel good during the whole recovery process. But for someone who is new to breast reconstruction treatment or considering it in the future, it’s hard to imagine what all they have to deal with during this surgical journey.

Therefore, we are here to help you understand what to expect when undergoing breast reconstruction surgery. This will give you a clear idea about the recovery process and the risks associated with it.

Potential Risks During and After Reconstructive Surgery

Just like other surgical procedures, breast reconstruction also has certain issues. While these problems are not common for everyone, some potential risks that some women may face are:

  • Issues at the time of anaesthesia
  • Formation of blood clots
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Swelling and pain
  • Fluid formation at the donor site or within the breast
  • Fatigue
  • Problem while wound healing

Risks after the surgery are:

  • No sensation in breast or nipple
  • Need to undergo more surgeries to deal with some problems
  • Tissue death, also called necrosis, of tissue flap, fat or skin
  • Loss of muscle strength
  • Uneven breast size or shape
  • Issues with a breast implant like leakage, scar formation or rupture
  • Risks of further infection

Possibility of Capsular Contracture Formation

Another common risk associated with breast implantation is the formation of capsular contracture. This means that a scar (also known as a capsule) can form beside the soft implant. As the implant will become tight, it starts to squeeze your implant and make the breast hard. To treat capsular contracture, sometimes doctors recommend surgery to remove the scar tissue or to replace the implant.

Potential Risks for Women Who Smoke  

The use of tobacco can narrow down your blood vessels while reducing the proper supply of oxygen and nutrients to breast tissues. Due to this, there can be problems while healing after the surgery. It may further cause some deeper scars that take a longer time for recovery. Due to these problems, sometimes a patient may require a second surgery to fix it. Therefore, doctors recommend patients quit smoking for a few months before the surgery for reducing any potential risk.

What to Expect After Reconstructive Surgery

You must know that after the reconstructive surgery you’ll feel tired for at least a week or two weeks. Your doctor will prescribe you some medicines for controlling discomfort and pain.

According to the type of surgery you’ve undergone, you will be discharged from the hospital in a few days or after a week. A patient is usually discharged with one or more drain, which is a small tube that is inserted in a wound for removing excess fluid from the surgical site. Your doctor will tell you when to remove the drain from a site carefully.

Time to get back to normal

While some women can get back to their regular activities in six to eight weeks, some may require more recovery time. If implants are inserted without flaps, the time required for recovery is shorter. Most women can start to get back to normal activities within 6 to 8 weeks. If implants are used without flaps, your recovery time may be shorter.

Things to keep in mind during the recovery process:

  • After reconstructive surgery, the normal sensations of the breast are not restored. Some sensations may get back over the years.
  • Generally, swelling and bruising go away in about eight weeks or more.
  • The tissues may take up to one or two years for healing the scars completely.
  • Ask your doctor when you can wear your regular bras again and what types of bras to wear for comfort.
  • If you want to exercise, consult your doctor about the type of exercises you can perform without stressing your muscles or tissues.
  • Immediately call a doctor if you notice any swelling, skin changes, pain, lumps or leakage.
  • Do follow the aftercare and regular check-up routine suggested by your doctor to ensure that your implants are fine.

Conclusion:

It is important to have a good understanding of breast reconstructive treatment beforehand. This way, you’ll be mentally prepared to face the challenges and problems during your surgery and recovery time. However, if you have any queries or doubts about this treatment, do consult your doctor before the surgery.

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