Breast Reconstruction Recovery Timeline
The journey to recovery after a breast cancer diagnosis is not easy. For some patients, the mastectomy is a grueling process followed by a series of further corrective breast reconstruction surgeries. Breast reconstruction surgeries are low-risk procedures that restore the breasts to a natural or near-natural appearance. Some patients will complete the surgery with a nipple tattoo to help correct for removed tissues, while others will receive more surgery to reconstruct the nipples as well.
For the breast construction itself, there are two main options: implant reconstruction and flap reconstruction. The recovery times for breast implants and flap reconstruction vary, but one thing you can expect from both recovery processes is that you will need to rework how you go about your everyday activities. You will have to learn to work around physical limitations, and you may even be hit by emotional turmoil that you aren’t used to. Do your best to understand your recovery process, but also have a little patience while going through your breast reconstruction surgery recovery time.
What to Expect from Your Breast Implant Recovery Time
Overall, the recovery time for a breast reconstruction implant surgery goes by faster and easier than that of a flap reconstruction surgery. However, follow-up work is more complicated when it comes to implant surgery. Because both types of breast reconstructions are so common, we’ll go over the breast surgery recovery timelines of both.
- Your Hospital Stay: Breast reconstruction is usually an inpatient procedure. Recipients of implant surgery will spend about two days in the hospital, while patients who get flap reconstruction surgery will spend up to five days in the hospital. During this time, you will receive pain medication and IV fluids to help manage your pain and other post-op symptoms. For the very beginning of your breast reconstruction surgery recovery time, you will also have drainage tubes in place at the incision sites. During your stay, you may be instructed to try lifting your arms in simple movements. After your second day of healing, you will be encouraged to do so to prevent blood clotting.
- First Two to Three Weeks: You should expect to stay at home for about three weeks after your surgery, though this timeline will depend on the progress you make during your early flap reconstruction or breast implant recovery time. In these first weeks after returning home, you will continue to experience soreness and swelling. You will be able to shower relatively soon after the surgery, though you may also have to apply medication and change bandages at the wound site.
- First Six to Eight Weeks: At this point in your breast reconstruction surgery recovery time, you may be able to go back to all of your former activities including work, errands, and most exercise, though your doctor may advise you to continue avoiding strenuous activity for a few months.
- Three Months: If nipple reconstruction is a desired part of your breast reconstruction, then it will take place at roughly this point in your flap reconstruction or breast implant recovery time. The procedure would involve reconstructing a nipple out of your own tissue or from donor skin. You may choose to combine your nipple reconstruction surgery with any touch-ups that your original breast reconstruction procedure may need.
- The First Year: Throughout the first year following your surgery, you will be asked to return to your doctor’s office regularly for checkups. Your breast implant recovery time may involve repeat visits to “inflate” the implants, depending on the type of implants you received. In the meantime, you may be asked to maintain self-check breast exams as a first line of defense against recurring cancer. By the end of the year, your breasts will reach their near-final results.
Getting Care Is Important
Getting a breast reconstruction operation is an emotionally and physically taxing endeavor. During your breast reconstruction surgery recovery time, your focus should be on resting, eating a nutritious post-surgery diet, and completing exercise as needed. This can be next to impossible to do on your own.
In the first few days of your breast implant or flap surgery recovery time at home, you may struggle to adjust to your newly limited range of movement. Your chest surgery affects your arms, too, and you will not be able to lift your arms for simple tasks such as washing your hair and cooking. If you have children or elderly individuals living in your home, you will not be able to care for them as you usually do.
To lessen the burden of readjusting to daily life during your flap surgery or breast implant recovery time, it can be a good idea to hire a private nurse to come to your home, or to spend time at a fully-equipped postoperative care center where you can receive the individualized attention you deserve.
Get Pampered at Pearl Wellness
During your strenuous breast reconstruction surgery recovery time, work should be as far away from your mind as possible. In fact, a recovery center retreat environment can be best for putting your body and mind in the right state for recovery. At Pearl Recovery Retreat, our experienced team of all-female postoperative nurses will assist you with daily living tasks while your fully-furnished 5-star hotel suite will provide the comfort you need to recover in complete tranquility.