It’s crucial to know what happens after you’ve had your breast reconstruction surgery. After all, knowing about the risks, the side effects, and the optional procedures afterward can greatly help you take all the right steps for a speedy recovery.
It doesn’t take long to recover from a breast reconstruction surgery, and most patients start feeling better a couple of weeks later and get back to their usual day-to-day life in a few months. However, the duration of the recovery period also depends on the type of breast reconstruction surgery you are having.
To make yourself as comfortable with the surgery as possible, become aware of the procedure and what to expect after it. We strongly suggest asking questions from your surgeon and closely following the after-care instructions such as medication application, mammograms, imaging tests, etc.
In the reconstruction surgery, the chest area is reconstructed to mimic a breast. There are two kinds of breast reconstruction surgery and the duration of their recovery period varies. The two types are:
Implant: Implant surgery is usually performed right after mastectomy, and the patient is sent home within two days of the procedure. This is usually considered a better option for thin and petite women.
Free Flap Reconstruction: This type of reconstruction surgery involves using tissues from other parts of the body to reconstruct the breasts. Since the technique is different, this surgery takes longer to heal.
What to Expect After the Surgery?
The doctor might apply gauze or wrap bandages to the incisions following either type of breast reconstruction surgery. The doctor might also ask you to wear a support bra, as it reduces swelling and provides ample support to the reconstructed bra. In some cases, a small tube might be placed to drain excess fluid and blood.
After the surgery, you’d be given specific instructions by your nurses and doctors on how to care for your operated site. Some of the aftercare instructions include, but are not limited to oral and topical medications to reduce the risk of infection and speed up healing, follow-up with the surgeon, and keeping an eye out for certain symptoms of infection.
Here are some of the most important things you should know to expect after a breast reconstruction surgery:
The Results will Take a While to Appear
Right after the surgery, all you’d notice is swelling, and nothing more, that’s completely normal, knowing this will save you from useless worrying. As you recover, the swelling will go down slowly and the shape and position of the reconstructed breast will begin to improve and take shape. Even then, do not stop following your doctor’s aftercare instructions and going for the follow-up until they tell you to do so.
The decision to wear a surgical bra after the surgery is entirely your doctor’s and you have to follow their instructions. The bra works differently on different patients. Some benefit from a compression bra and are asked to wear it all day long for 1-2 months, others are strictly advised to steer clear. During the first six weeks after the surgery, regular bras that do not provide much support aren’t recommended.
You cannot take a shower right after your surgery, however, it is encouraged to take a shower 48-hours after it. Similar to most other surgeries, it is best to take a shower with warm soapy water. There’s no need to avoid getting the operated site wet. Even if there are incisions, drains, and gauze, there will be no setback from the water. Only avoid showering after 48-hours and getting the surgical site wet, if the doctor has specifically told you to.
If you work out daily or plan to start working out after your surgery, make sure to voice that concern to your doctor. They’d give you an accurate timeline on how long to wait after the surgery, to start working out.
Scars are a big part of people who survived breast cancer. The scars from breast reconstruction surgery might fade a little after a year, but they do not disappear forever.
It’s a common misconception, but many patients believe that breast reconstruction surgery will restore the entire appearance of breasts. That’s not true. It’s crucial to know that reconstruction surgery only involves reconstruction of the breasts, but does not involve nipples or areola.
How To Regain Normalcy and Restore the Original Appearance of The Nipples After Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
There are many solutions and options available to restore the appearance of the missing areola and nipples. One of the most successful solutions so far is the 3D tattoo. A 3D tattoo uses realistic colours and artistic talents to create a replica of the areola and mimics its natural appearance.
How Long to Wait After Breast Reconstruction Surgery Before Getting Other Procedures?
If you plan on getting a 3D Areola tattoo after your breast reconstruction surgery, make sure to ask your doctor how long to wait. Normally, a 3D areola tattoo procedure can be done a few months after the surgery.
Is 3D Tattoo Painful After a Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
For women who’ve gone through mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery, getting 3D tattoos is a painless experience. It’s primarily because the chest area becomes completely numb after mastectomy and since there is no sensation, there’s no pain. For other people, the 3D tattoo would hurt just the same as a regular tattoo.
The recovery and healing process of a 3D tattoo is similar to that of a traditional tattoo. The area is lightly covered for a few days and it is advised to clean the tattooed area with an antibacterial soap followed by the application of a scent-free lotion. This is to be continued until the tattoos are entirely healed.
If you or someone you know is going for breast reconstruction surgery and looking to get a 3D areola tattoo, book your place in advance at LUXE Brow + Lash, in Austin, TX. Here, you’ll find a certified and experienced artist who’ll make the entire process a smooth experience for you.