Breast reconstruction surgery is an emotionally charged process filled with a number of “what-ifs.” From basic questions regarding what to bring to the hospital to more complicated inquiries like what happens in surgery, we know that educating our patients is the first step to helping them feel comfortable with their decision to undergo breast reconstruction. Below are just a few of the common question we answer for our breast reconstruction patients.
What kind of clothes should I wear after surgery?
Many patients find that button-up and zip-up shirts are more comfortable the first week or more after surgery. Lifting your arms overhead may be difficult due to the nature of the surgery, so shirts with openings in the front will allow you to move more comfortably. Patients recommend soft, warm fabrics as many find hospitals on the chilly side. Some women say large camisoles that allow them to step into the shirt and pull it up or “bird-wing” their arms into the sleeves without raising them are also nice after surgery. Some companies make custom post-surgical shirts that are loose and even have pockets for drains.
What kind of scarring can I expect after breast reconstruction surgery?
Depending on the breast reconstruction technique used during your surgery, there are different incision placements. Some patients’ cases are less complicated and surgeons can try to hide scars. The flap procedures in which spare tissue is taken from the tummy can result in a tummy tuck like scar across the lower abdomen. Scars can be vertical, horizontal, straight, or curved. Each patient’s scars will be different because each woman’s medical needs are different. See Dr. Elliott’s breast reconstruction photo gallery to see the types of scars associated with specific surgical techniques.
Is breast reconstruction hard on the body? What is recovery like?
Each woman’s breast reconstruction situation is different. Some women undergo bilateral mastectomies of both breasts while others only have one removed. As such, each person’s recovery is different. Some breast reconstruction surgery techniques are less invasive than others. The TRAM procedures, for example, use tissue from another area of the body to replace the breast tissue lost during breast cancer removal surgery. Recovery from these surgeries generally takes longer. Dr. Franklyn Elliott provides all his breast reconstruction patients with specific aftercare instructions to ensure each patient’s recovery is as quick as possible.
Breast reconstruction surgery is never an easy choice. Some patients decide to have their surgery immediately after breast cancer removal, while some decide to wait or have to wait because of the need for radiation or other factors. We recommend you seek a consultation from a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon like Dr. Franklyn Elliott along with your oncologist and general surgeon. There, you and your doctors can formulate a plan that best suits your needs, and you can ask any questions you may have.