Both physical and emotional aspects are a part of the recovery process for breast reconstruction plastic surgery. The time taken to physically recover from the plastic surgery depends on the surgical technique used to perform the reconstruction procedure.
Flap reconstruction often involves more recovery time than implant reconstruction as there will be healing in two areas of the body in the former.
Some Key Considerations
Patients can typically expect to recover fully within six weeks following surgery. But the recovery may be prolonged in case post-operative complications occur or if the patient chooses to undergo another procedure, such as nipple reconstruction.
Board certified female plastic surgeon Dr. Kristi Hustak provides breast reconstruction patients in Houston, Texas, and surrounding locations.
Immediately After the Surgery
For the first few days after breast reconstruction surgery, patients usually feel tired and experience soreness in the treated areas. Some patients may have to stay in the hospital for a day or two for monitoring in the initial recovery.
The surgeon will often insert drain pipes in the incision sites beneath the skin to eliminate excess fluid from the surgery area. These drains and any sutures will remain in place for one to two weeks. Patients can expect the following symptoms during their initial recovery period:
- Soreness at the surgical site
- Numbness or sensation loss
To help the patient remain comfortable in the initial breast reconstruction surgery phase, the surgeon may prescribe her pain medication. After she is released from the hospital, the patient should follow the surgeon’s post-surgical guidelines carefully. This can ensure a speedier and safer recovery.
The surgeon may recommend the following to the patient for a safer and faster recovery:
- Do not perform strenuous activities such as lifting objects overhead, engaging in sexual activity, or participating in sports for a few days
- Clean all wounds properly
- Change bandages often
- Gently massage the skin and scars when the incisions have healed
- Wear a firm, supportive bra without underwires
Patients can expect to have scarring in one or multiple locations depending on the breast reconstruction technique chose. The areas where scars develop are the breast, abdomen, nipple, back, navel, buttocks, or another site from where tissues were taken to develop a breast mound.
Flap reconstruction leads to a bit more scarring than the implant reconstruction technique. This happens as the former involves two incision areas. While surgical scars will fade away over time, they are not likely to disappear completely.
Restoration of Normal Life
The breast reconstruction recovery phase differs for each patient. The patient should slowly return to her regular routine at her own pace. She should also be in touch with the surgeon’s office as well as attend all follow-up appointments.
The patient can gradually start her daily chores such as shopping, housework, or driving as the incisions heal. Patients who undergo breast reconstruction using the flap technique may need a little more downtime as this technique can weaken the abdominal or arm muscles.
Many patients may require time to adapt emotionally to having a reconstructed breast. Breast reconstruction can restore the cosmetic appearance of the breast. However, the breast will not appear or feel exactly the same as the natural breast.
Patients usually find it reassuring to speak with other women who have undergone breast reconstruction or to a mental heal professional. Female cosmetic surgeon Dr. Kristi Hustak receives patients from Houston, Texas, and nearby areas for breast reconstruction.
For more information on procedures and treatments provided by board-certified female plastic surgeon Dr. Kristi Hustak please call us to schedule a consultation at 713.322.7265 or click here. Offices in Houston, Texas.