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Recovering from breast reconstruction: What to expect

Monday, September 26, 2011

If you have decided to have your breasts reconstructed, no doubt you're excited and ready to have the operation as soon as possible! While your anticipation is well-founded, and you shouldn't curb your enthusiasm, be prepared for what comes after the procedure.

A breast reconstruction is major surgery, so it will entail a substantial recovery period. Here's what to expect following such an operation, according to experts at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

- You will wake up tightly wrapped in gauze or an elastic bra-like device, which will keep your new breasts supported and minimize swelling. This may be uncomfortable at first, but as the days wear on you will become accustomed to it.

- Oftentimes, a reconstructed breast will have a small plastic tube leading out of it. This is a drain, allowing surplus fluids to escape the new tissue. It may sound gross, but this little tube can be an essential part of a quick and safe recovery.

- You will likely be prescribed a regimen of painkillers. Alternatively, you may have a pump implanted in your skin that delivers analgesics to the site of your surgery.

Your doctor will tell you how to take care of your incision site. Don't worry: more than 93,000 women make it through this process every year, the ASPS states.

Breast reconstruction recovery. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 2011. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/reconstructive-procedures/breast-reconstruction.html?sub=Breast%20reconstruction%20recovery#content Accessed September 13, 2011.

2010 Reconstructive Demographics. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 2011. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Documents/news-resources/statistics/2010-statisticss/Patient-Ages/2010-reconstructive-demographics-breast-surgery-statistics.pdf Accessed September 13, 2011.

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