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Many women who have had breast cancer eventually decide to have breast reconstruction. Whether you have breast implants or another procedure, breast reconstruction can give you a sense of being back to normal and make you feel more feminine.
But before you have breast reconstruction surgery, it’s essential to know as much as you can, including what the recovery will be like.
Learn more about the procedure and what to expect below. Keep in mind that some patients decide to have other procedures, such as a San Antonio breast lift, San Antonio tummy tuck, and San Antonio liposuction.
The First Few Days After Breast Reconstruction
After breast reconstruction surgery, you’ll probably feel sore and tired for about two weeks if you have breast implants. If you had flap surgery – which involves taking tissue from another body area to rebuild the breast – your recovery will take longer.
Depending on the procedure, you can probably go home from the hospital after three or four days. Your surgeon may place drains in the breast to remove extra fluid as the site heals. The drain usually feeds into a small ball or bag that you can empty yourself.
Your surgeon will tell you when it’s safe to remove the drains, depending on how much fluid is present every day.
Full Recovery From Breast Reconstruction
Most women can get back to their full work schedule and exercise routine after about six to eight weeks. If you had implants without flaps, your recovery might be shorter.
Also, keep the following guidelines in mind:
Breast Won’t Feel Normal
Breast reconstruction makes the breast look and feel relatively normal. But you won’t have much sensation when you touch it.
However, some patients report they have some feeling return after several years.
You Can Shower After Surgery
Patients usually can take a shower after 48 hours. It isn’t a problem if water contacts your drains or incisions. You should use warm, soapy water to keep the incisions clean.
Bruising And Swelling Takes Time
You may have swelling and bruising for up to two months. It’s important to be patient because the results are worth it.
Also, it can take up to two years for the breast skin and tissue to heal and scars to fade. But the scars will always be there.
Talk To Doctor About Bras
You should check with your surgeon about when you can wear a regular bra. When and the type of bra can depend on the surgery you had.
After your breast is healed, you may feel discomfort if you use a bra with lace or an underwire.
Ask About Stretching And Workouts
Follow what your surgeon says about when you can stretch and resume workouts; it varies depending on the reconstruction surgery.
Generally, you should not engage in heavy lifting, vigorous sports, and sexual activity for at least four to six weeks after surgery.
During your follow-up procedures, you can talk to your surgeon about when you can get back to regular activities.
Emotional Adjustment Can Take Time
Some women wait to have breast reconstruction several months or years after mastectomy. Just as it took time to get used to losing a breast, you may need a while to feel as if the new breast is yours.
It can help if you talk to women who have had breast reconstruction. Also, consider talking to a mental health professional if you’re feeling distressed or anxious about your new breast.
Implants Will Need Replacing Eventually
Modern breast implants last a long time, but you may need them replaced in 10 or 15 years. Some patients’ implants may last for life, but every case is different.
You should check in with your doctor every two or three years to check the condition of your implants.
Follow Up Needed With Breast Implants
Silicone breast implants can rupture or leak in the breast, and you won’t feel symptoms. That’s why it’s a good idea to have an MRI every three years to ensure the breast is intact. Unfortunately, your insurance may not cover the MRI.
Talk to your surgeon about following up on the implant’s condition after you’ve recovered.
Call Your Doctor If You Notice Changes
You should call your doctor immediately if you notice significant changes to the new breast, such as skin changes, swelling, pain, or fluid leaking.
Breast reconstruction usually has excellent results if you have reasonable expectations and follow your doctor’s instructions.
Request A Breast Reconstruction Consultation
Interested in breast reconstruction in San Antonio? Dr. Scott J Farber or Dr. Amita Shah of Hill Country Plastic Surgery can help. They will consult with you about your desire for breast reconstruction surgery.
Also, they’ll go over the options, goals, and more to determine if this procedure is a good fit for your needs and goals.
- What To Expect After Breast Reconstruction Surgery. (n.d.). Accessed at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/breast-cancer/reconstruction-surgery/what-to-expect-after-breast-reconstruction-surgery.html
- What To Expect After Breast Reconstruction Surgery. (n.d.). Accessed at https://www.pennmedicine.org/cancer/about/focus-on-cancer/2019/october/what-to-expect-after-breast-reconstruction
- 10 Commonly Asked Questions About Life After Breast Reconstruction Surgery. (n.d.). Accessed at https://www.cancercenter.com/community/blog/2018/05/10-commonly-asked-questions-about-life-after-breast-reconstruction-surgery