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How does breast reconstruction surgery work?
Breast reconstruction surgery rebuilds the breast mound using an artificial implant and muscle, skin, or fat from other areas of your body. Your reconstruction surgery will depend on the type of surgery you had and how much of the breast needs reconstruction.
It’s important to understand that sensation in the breast or nipple may not be the same as it was before surgery.
Will I have scars after plastic surgery?
Surgery always leaves a scar, but everyone heals differently. Your scars may be more or less noticeable than others’. Although we can’t eliminate scarring, there are strategies we can use to limit it.
Will my breasts match after surgery?
If both breasts undergo reconstruction, it’s often easy to match them. If only one breast is reconstructed, it’s more difficult. In many cases, your other breast can be modified with a breast lift, reduction, or augmentation, to achieve symmetry. Some insurance plans cover this procedure.
What questions should I ask before breast cancer surgery and reconstruction?
- What do I want my breasts to look like after I’m done with treatment?
- Is delayed breast reconstruction an option?
- Do I need to make a decision about reconstruction right away?
- What will life be like for me without reconstruction?
- Am I a candidate for breast conservation?
- What reconstruction options fit best with my overall treatment plan?
What happens after breast reconstruction surgery?
While recovering from breast reconstruction surgery, be aware of the following:
- You may be mildly groggy and dizzy due to the anesthesia.
- We recommend you take your prescription pain medication as advised before your discomfort becomes severe. For less severe pain, you can take acetaminophen or any non-aspirin pain reliever.
- You may not want to use the arm on the side of your mastectomy for blood pressure tests, IVs, or blood draws. Discuss this with your surgeon.
Some personal care tips to keep in mind:
- Keep the dressing clean and dry. You many need to sponge bathe. Don’t remove the dressing unless directed to do so by the doctor.
- A drain may be needed to remove blood and fluid from the surgery site. As the container fills with fluid, you will need to empty it. The doctor or nurse will show you how to do this.
Talk with your doctor about when to start post-op exercises. Avoid activities that involve:
- Heavy lifting (more than 10 pounds)
- Overhead arm movement, such as reaching and stretching
- Repetitive arm movement, such as vacuuming and raking
What kinds of symptoms indicate there may be a problem after surgery?
Call your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if you develop any unusual symptoms after breast reconstruction surgery, such as:
- Bleeding (more than a stain on the dressing)
- Pus-like discharge
- Redness or discoloration of the skin
- Severe pain not lessened by pain medication
- Shaking chills and/or fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit
Is it ever too late to have breast reconstruction surgery?
No, it is never too late as long as you are healthy. Discuss the risks and benefits of postponing breast reconstruction with a board-certified surgeon.