How long it takes you to recover from surgery will depend on the type of reconstruction that was performed. Most women start to feel more like themselves a few weeks after their surgery and can return to their usual routine after a few months.
While your surgeon will provide you with specific guidance on what you can expect in your unique case, here is some general breast reconstruction information to get you started.
Recovering after Your Breast Reconstruction Procedure
Following your surgery, you are going to feel tired and experience some discomfort for about a week. Fortunately, you will be provided with pain medication to help alleviate this.
Most patients are able to return home from the hospital a few days after their procedure but there’s a good chance you will need to leave with drains in place. The drains help get rid of any excess fluid and will be removed a few days later. It’s important to keep your wounds and drains clean to avoid any infection. You will also have a support garment that you will need to wear to reduce swelling.
Tips to Help You Get Back to Normal
Here are a few things to keep in mind during your recovery to help you get back to normal.
- While you may not have much feeling in your breasts right after your recovery, sensation will slowly return over a few years.
- You should wait at least 8 weeks for bruising and swelling to subside.
- It can take up to two years for your tissues to heal completely so don’t rush the process.
- You may need to consult with your surgeon before you start buying bras. You may not be able to wear any type of bra after your surgery.
- Find out from your surgeon when you can start stretching and exercising again instead of making the decision yourself.
- Take the time to adjust emotionally after your surgery. Seek support from the people closest to you to get through this period.
- If at any point you notice skin changes, lumps, fluid leakage or unnecessary swelling, contact your surgeon as soon as you can
Mammograms after Breast Reconstruction Surgery.
In most cases, you won’t need a routine mammogram on the side that was originally affected by cancer but the healthy breast still does. This is because there isn’t enough tissue left after a mastectomy for a mammogram to work. There is still a chance for cancer to affect the skin or the wall of the chest but a physical exam is enough to detect this.
If you decide on implants after your mastectomy, make sure that you are receiving a mammogram at a facility that is familiar with scanning breasts with implants. Simply make your technician aware of the fact that you have implants before your mammogram is performed and everything will go smoothly.