Breast Reconstruction Recovery Tips
Many women who go through a mastectomy or lumpectomy after their breast cancer diagnosis choose to get breast reconstruction surgery afterward to help restore a natural appearance to their breasts. There are two main types of breast reconstruction surgery: implants and flap reconstruction. Silicone or saline implants have a shorter breast surgery recovery time but will only last for about ten years. Flap reconstruction involves grafting a piece of the patient’s own fat to the breast and is a slightly more complicated procedure. Recovery after a flap breast reconstruction will take longer, but the results will also last longer. Generally, the results of flap breast reconstruction will last a lifetime though, unlike implants, your breasts will fluctuate in size as you gain and lose weight.
Your doctor may recommend a certain type of breast reconstruction surgery based on your health, body type, and goals, or you may be asked to select your own surgery type. Your breast surgery recovery process will be similar for both procedures with some differences.
Breast Reconstruction Recovery Tips
Breast reconstruction surgeries are relatively straightforward procedures, but there are risks present, as with any surgery. To minimize these risks, make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions and prepare to take some time to focus on rest during your breast reconstruction recovery. There are other ways to help your healing process go smoothly, including:
- Prepare Sources of Care: Breast reconstruction surgeries are often outpatient procedures, but that doesn’t mean that you can go through breast reconstruction surgery recovery alone. Firstly, you’ll need someone to drive you home after your procedure. Ideally, you’ll also have someone to assist you for about a week with daily tasks such as errands and personal grooming. Since you won’t be able to drive for a few weeks following surgery, you should also make sure you have a ride to your first few post-op appointments.
- Eat Nutritiously: During your recovery after breast reconstruction, your body needs protein, iron, vitamins, and healthy fats to heal. A nourishing post-surgery diet can be a good idea right before or after your procedure to help prep the body for healing.
- Quit Smoking (Temporarily or for Good): Cigarettes and surgery don’t mix. Cigarette smoke hinders your blood flow, getting in the way of your breast surgery recovery. Many breast reconstruction recovery tips involve stopping smoking for a few months after your surgery to give your body adequate time to heal.
- Manage Pain Responsibly: Pain and soreness will be most pronounced in the first few days after surgery. It’s likely that your surgeon will prescribe suitable pain medications to take during this time. If you do choose to take over-the-counter medications during recovery after breast reconstruction, make sure to get it cleared with your surgeon first. Certain pain medications can actually get in the way of healing.
- Take (up to) a Month off from Work: If you’re normally a workaholic, one of the most annoying tips to follow during your breast reconstruction recovery may be taking time off from work. Depending on the type of procedure you receive, you may have to stay home for up to a month to fully recover before resuming normal, everyday activities.
- Exercise Appropriately: You will be required to get lots of rest during recovery, but that doesn’t mean you should stay completely sedentary. Blood clots and constipation are a risk after major surgery, and a little walking each day can help to prevent those as well as accelerate your breast reconstruction surgery recovery time. As you recover, your doctor may also introduce arm exercises that you can use to restore your normal arm movement. When you are well enough to resume exercise (6 to 8 weeks after surgery), it will be better for your breast surgery recovery if you start with gentle exercises and avoid those that put strain on the chest, such as weight lifting.
- Keep an Eye on Side Effects: Breast reconstruction surgery causes lots of side effects, some of which are uncomfortable but quite natural. These include stiff arms, fatigue, and depression. Make sure you know which side effects are normal and which ones are cause for concern.
- Continue Getting Physical Exams: Going through breast reconstruction surgery can involve many different breast surgeries and recovery processes. As such, it’s very important that you go to your doctor often to check your breast health. If you have silicone gel-filled implants, you will need to get breast MRIs every few years to check for ruptures.
Get Help During Your Recovery After a Breast Reconstruction
Some of the breast reconstruction recovery tips outlined above are easy to implement on your own, but others require you to get help from others. In the very beginning of your recovery, you’ll feel extremely weak and will have trouble with basic tasks such as feeding, cleaning, and entertaining yourself. At the same time, all of these tasks are extremely important for a successful breast surgery recovery.
As you get back on your feet, it can be very helpful to have someone there who not only cares about you but is also well-versed in post-op care techniques. Hiring an in-home nurse or taking a brief stay at a post-op retreat are great ways of getting professional and personalized care.
Book a Stay at Pearl Recovery Retreat
The all-female nursing and care staff at Pearl Recovery Retreat are experienced in the nuances of breast surgery recovery care. During those difficult first few days of recovery, they will assist you with daily tasks and help monitor your health to ensure that everything is going smoothly. If your doctor recommended exercise, your nurses will help you complete the exercises as well as set up your room so that everything you need is accessible.
Should you be interested in supplementing your recovery process, you can opt for our additional healing services including IV therapy, which delivers essential nutrients directly to the bloodstream, as well as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which delivers pure oxygen to the bloodstream and causes a host of health and comfort benefits.
We would love to provide you with the Beverly Hills hospitality that you deserve during your crucial recovery after your breast reconstruction surgery. Contact us to learn more!