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Reconstruction: Questions to Ask and Post-Op Care

Questions to ask your plastic surgeon about Breast Reconstruction

  • What are my options for mastectomy reconstruction?
  • What are the risks and complications of each type of breast reconstruction surgery and how common are they?
  • What if my cancer recurs or occurs in the other breast?
  • Will reconstruction interfere with my cancer treatment?
  • How many steps are there in each procedure, and what are they?
  • How long will it take to complete my reconstruction?
  • How much experience do you have with each procedure?
  • Do you have before and after photos I can look at for each procedure and what results are reasonable for me?
  • What will my scars look like?
  • What kind of changes in my implanted breast can I expect over time?
  • What kind of changes in my implanted breast can I expect with pregnancy?
  • What are my options if I am dissatisfied with the cosmetic outcome of my implanted breast?
  • Would you suggest other patients I could talk to about their experiences?
  • What is the estimated total cost of each procedure?
  • How much pain or discomfort will I feel, and for how long?
  • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • When will I be able to resume my normal activity?

Postoperative Care

Your doctor should describe the usual postoperative (after surgery) recovery process, the possible complications that can arise, and the expected recovery period. Following the operation, as with any surgery, some pain, swelling, bruising, and tenderness can be expected. These complications may last for a month or longer, but they should disappear with time.

Medications for pain and nausea can be prescribed. Some women may experience bleeding and some may experience fever, warmth, or redness of the breast, or other symptoms of infection. These symptoms should be reported immediately to your doctor. You should be told about wound healing and how to care for your wound. Drains may be used for a few days.

Post-operative care may involve the use of a post-operative bra, compression bandage, or jog bra for extra support and positioning while you heal. At your doctor’s recommendation, you will most likely be able to return to work within a few days, although you should avoid any strenuous activities that could raise your pulse and blood pressure for at least a couple of weeks. Your doctor may also recommend breast massage exercises.

Ask your doctor about a schedule of follow-up examinations, limits on your activities, precautions you should take, and when you can return to your normal routine.

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Mastectomy Before and After Photos

View Mastectomy Reconstruction Before and After Photos