What should you expect during my breast reconstruction recovery?

What should you expect during my breast reconstruction recovery? | Jacob Bloom, MDIn the recovery process for breast reconstruction cosmetic surgery, both the physical and emotional aspects are important. The surgical technique used to undertake the reconstruction procedure determines the time taken to recover from the procedure physically.

Flap reconstruction usually has a more extended recovery period in comparison to implant reconstruction as the former involves healing in two locations of the body.

Patients can usually expect to recover completely within six weeks after the surgery. However, the recovery may be longer if there are post-op complications or in case the patient chooses to undergo another procedure, such as nipple reconstruction.

Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jacob Bloom provides breast reconstruction to patients in Chicago, IL, and surrounding communities.


Immediately after the Surgery

For the initial few days after the reconstructive surgery, patients typically feel tired and experience soreness in the treated sites. Certain patients have to remain at the hospital for a day or two for monitoring during the early recovery phase.

During the initial recovery period, patients can expect the following symptoms:

  • Inflammation
  • Bruising
  • Scarring
  • Soreness at the surgical site
  • Sensation loss or Numbness

The surgeon may prescribe pain medication to the patient to enable her to remain comfortable during the initial recovery stage. The patient should follow the surgeon’s post-op instructions carefully upon being released from the hospital, including:

  • Do not undertake vigorous activities such as engaging in sexual activity, lifting objects overhead, or participating in sports for a few days.
  • Clean all wounds thoroughly
  • Change bandages frequently
  • Wear a firm, supportive bra without underwire
  • Gently massage the skin and scars when the incisions heal


Post-Operative Scarring

After the breast reconstruction plastic surgery, patients can expect to have scarring in one or more areas depending on the reconstructive technique chosen. The sites where scarring occurs are the abdomen, breast, nipple, back, butt, navel, or another area from where tissues were sourced to create a breast mound.

Flap reconstruction causes slightly more scarring in comparison to the implant method of reconstruction. This occurs as the former involves incisions in two locations. The surgical scars will fade away over time, but will likely not vanish entirely.  


Restoration of Normal Life

Breast reconstruction recovery differs for every patient. The patient should gradually resume her routine at her own pace. She should stay in touch with the surgeon’s office and attend all scheduled follow-up appointments.

The patient can slowly resume her daily chores such as housework, shopping, or driving as the incisions heal. Patients who receive breast reconstruction with the flap technique may require a bit more downtime as this method can weaken the arm or abdominal muscles.


Emotional Recovery

Many patients may need time to adapt emotionally to having a reconstructed breast. While breast reconstruction can restore the aesthetic appearance of the breast, it will not look or feel entirely the same as the natural breast.

Patients often find it reassuring to talk to other women who have undergone breast reconstruction or to a mental health professional. Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Jacob Bloom receives patients from Chicago, IL, and nearby areas for breast reconstruction.