Planning for Reconstruction
Recovering From the Surgery
You've completed your reconstruction surgery. Now help your body heal during the recovery phase.
Rest is essential. You will probably feel fatigued and sore – which is common, especially
if you’ve had reconstruction with implants – and you may experience a feeling of
tightness in the breast area as your skin adjusts. Your plastic surgeon may also
recommend breast massage exercises to help alleviate this. You may need to wear
special post-reconstruction breast and chest garments while you recover. Your surgeon
will provide you with more specific details about the recovery process. Should any
problems occur after your operation, contact your doctor immediately. An important
note: If you experience fever or noticeable swelling and/or redness in your breast(s),
you should contact your doctor immediately.
What effect does smoking have on the healing process after an operation?
- Some plastic surgeons or breast surgeons may not operate on a smoker, because it
can negatively affect the healing process after an operation.
- Smoking produces nicotine and carbon monoxide, which can cause the blood vessels
in your skin to constrict, resulting in poor wound healing.
- In the setting of a tissue expander, skin on the breast may be compromised and could
result in loss of the tissue expander.
- TRAM flaps in particular may be more likely to have complications in smokers, such
as fat necrosis.
How long should I wait to resume exercise after a breast implant operation?
- Work closely with your doctor on when you can go back to work and when and how to
resume other activities. Recovery periods vary from woman to woman.
- It is important not to sweat into the incision while it is healing. Therefore, curtail
activity and sun tanning until after the incision has healed and sealed. Don’t overdo
activity too early, especially with the upper body. Let your body rest and heal.
You want to minimise swelling around the implant.
- Be sure you check with your doctor before returning to your workouts. Patients vary
greatly in recovery times. Walking is generally recommended to encourage circulation.
The larger the implant you receive, the heavier the breast(s) will be. You should
wear good support bras while running to minimise pull on the skin and ptosis (drooping)
of the breast.
When can I fly and/or scuba dive?
- Once fully recovered, you can feel free to scuba dive and fly in airplanes with
some minor considerations, since there may be slight expansion and contraction of
the shell with changes in pressure.
- With Saline-filled Implants, this may result in a minimal amount of air bubbles
in the implant, and you may feel or hear fluid sounds (gurgling). This should correct
itself within 24 to 48 hours.
When can I wear an underwire bra again?
- Most doctors ask that women wait 3 months before wearing underwire bras after an
implant operation. Your body will be forming scar tissue around the implant for
during this time and the pressure of the wires could cause the scar tissue to form
in such a way that an indentation from the wires could become permanent. After this
initial healing time, underwire bras should be worn intermittently to avoid permanent
- You may need to wear a postoperative bra, compression bandage or jog bra for extra
support and positioning while you heal.
If I experience a problem, should I report it?
- Should any problems occur after your operation, contact your physician immediately.
- An important note: If you experience fever, or noticeable swelling and/or redness
in your breast(s), you should contact your doctor immediately.