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Tips for Breast Reconstruction Recovery

Posted in Breast Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction surgery is designed to restore breast volume after a lumpectomy or mastectomy. Flap and implant reconstructions are the two main types of breast surgeries to reconstruct the breasts. Flap reconstruction uses tissue grafted from another part of the patient’s body. An implant reconstruction employs breast implants to rebuild breast contours.

Breast reconstruction can occur concurrently during breast cancer surgery, or your surgeon may perform it afterward as a standalone procedure. Dr. Chris Livingston will provide detailed post-surgery instructions to help your body heal quickly. Here are seven helpful tips to ensure you get back to your everyday life after your operation is complete.

1. Wear a Compression Bra

Your surgeon will likely send you home wearing an elastic bandage or compression bra following surgery. The bra will support your breast tissue and incisions and help minimize swelling. Your surgeon will inform you when it’s okay to wear a regular bra, typically 4-6 weeks. Keep in mind your cup size could change slightly as your breast tissue stabilizes and heals.

2. Surgical Drain Care

A surgical drain may be inserted to the side of your breast to allow excess fluid to drain. These drains help incisions heal and minimize inflammation. The drain will go home with you and remain for several days. Your surgical team will instruct you on managing the drain for optimal healing.

3. Pain Management

Dr. Livingston will prescribe oral pain medication to ensure your recovery is as comfortable as possible. These prescriptions may carry a risk of dependence, but they are an integral part of your recovery. Take them only as prescribed.

4. Incision Care

Dr. Livingston may recommend stretching slightly soon after surgery. However, protect your incision from excessive movement, blunt force, or rubbing against clothing at all times. Avoid lifting heavy objects, sex, and strenuous exercise for up to 6 weeks. In addition, women with flap reconstruction may have additional physical limitations due to their second incision.

5. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is often prescribed after breast reconstruction. It can help maintain your upper body range of motion and strength, especially with your shoulders and arms. In addition, physical therapy can rehabilitate the tissue donor site for women who have flap reconstruction.

6. Patience

Your reconstructed breast appearance may be shocking at first. Remember, any surgery causes trauma to the surgery site, and it takes time for the area to heal and stabilize. Swelling and bruising can last up to 8 weeks—the approximate recovery time for flap and implant reconstruction. With both breast implant and flap reconstruction, your breasts will continue to change during your recovery.

Having realistic expectations about breast reconstruction is essential. A reconstructed breast doesn’t look or feel like a natural breast. So before your operation, talk with Dr. Livingston to fully understand the results you should expect.

7. Emotional Reactions

Dealing with breast cancer and reconstruction surgery is emotional. You might experience a range of feelings after your breast reconstruction as well. Some women go through a period of adjustment and acceptance. Many breast cancer survivors find it helpful to connect with other women who have also undergone the process. Or, if you struggle to adjust, you may wish to seek help from a credited mental health professional.

Breast Reconstruction in Houston, Texas

If you need breast reconstruction surgery in The Woodlands, Sugar Land, or Pearland area, please contact Livingston Plastic Surgery by calling (281) 501-1812  or reaching out online to schedule your consultation today.