Deciding to go ahead with breast reconstruction surgery is significant. This is especially true for women recently diagnosed with breast cancer who are still trying to wrap their heads around their diagnosis and upcoming lumpectomy or mastectomy.
Breast reconstruction is a major surgery focused on restoring the shape, size, and symmetry of your breasts. Women may choose to have breast reconstruction surgery following breast cancer surgery or to fix breast abnormalities.
At Breast Body Beauty Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery in Marietta, Georgia, we’re all about giving women the power to take control of their bodies. As a cancer survivor herself, Dr. Aisha Baron understands the physical and emotional turmoil that comes with a cancer diagnosis and its treatment.
Dr. Baron specializes in breast reconstruction surgery and microsurgical (DIEP flap) breast reconstruction. Knowing more about recovery and how to prepare may ease some anxiety.
Here, we want to talk about breast reconstruction surgery and tips for recovering.
About breast reconstruction
When it comes to breast reconstruction, no single surgery is like another. That’s because the specifics of your surgery depend on your reconstructive needs.
However, breast reconstruction falls into one of two categories: implant-based reconstruction or flap reconstruction.
With implant breast reconstruction we use breast implants to create your new breast.
For flap reconstruction, we use your own tissue to reconstruct your breast. Dr. Baron specializes in DIEP flap reconstruction, which uses skin, fat, and blood vessels from the lower abdominal area to recreate your breast.
When to have breast reconstruction
Just like the procedure, the timing of your breast reconstruction procedure varies and depends on many factors. Dr. Baron may recommend:
When you have breast reconstruction at the same time as your mastectomy, it’s called immediate reconstruction.
For women undergoing a lumpectomy or mastectomy who also need chemotherapy, radiation, or targeted cancer treatment, Dr. Baron recommends a delayed reconstruction. This means waiting up to 12 months after your surgery to complete your reconstruction. However, you can have delayed reconstruction years after your surgery.
Cancer treatments after breast reconstruction may change the shape or look of your newly constructed breast, which is why it’s best to wait.
Delayed-immediate reconstruction is a staged procedure in which Dr. Baron performs some reconstructive surgery at the time of your lumpectomy or mastectomy and the rest at a later date.
Recovering from breast reconstruction
Recovery from breast reconstruction varies. However, Dr. Baron provides post-op guidelines to support the recovery process, so you can get back to doing the things you love as quickly and safely as possible.
You can expect pain, bruising, and swelling following breast reconstruction. Dr. Baron gives you a surgical bra to ease these post-op symptoms. She also provides pain medication recommendations, which may include over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription pain medication. Adequate pain control is an essential part of the recovery process.
You also need to plan on taking it easy during recovery. Though activity modifications vary, Dr. Baron recommends no overhead lifting or strenuous physical exercise for four to six weeks following reconstruction. You also need to wear special bras following breast surgery because your usual bra may irritate the incisions.
Swelling and bruising usually subside within eight weeks, but it may take more than a year for the incisions to completely heal.
Every woman’s breast reconstruction experience is unique to her. The best tips for recovering from reconstructive breast surgery come from your plastic surgeon. We can provide the guidance you need. Call our office, or request a consultation online today.