When considering breast reconstruction surgery, it’s common to have questions about the process. Along with all the other questions you might have about your diagnosis and treatment process, it can be overwhelming to think about. Although your reconstructive surgeon can guide you through the important steps, it can help to know what to expect. Here are some of the most common questions patients have about the reconstructive process.
When will the swelling go down?
The exact length of recovery will vary between patients and the type of procedure. On average, you can expect between three and six months for swelling to completely fade and for the breasts to settle into their final shape; however, the process can take longer, especially if you’ve undergone radiation therapy treatments. This is because the radiation used during therapy can damage tissue, making it harder to heal. Your reconstructive surgeon can give you the best timeline for your surgery and also recommend ways to manage swelling afterward.
When will the numbness go away?
While it’s true that some degree of feeling can return after a couple of years, many patients don’t recover full feeling. This means it will take time to become comfortable with your new breasts, though discussing the process with your reconstructive surgeon and speaking with others who have undergone the process can help.
How long will implants last and will I need another procedure?
The newest gel implants have the potential to last for a lifetime; however, most reconstructive surgeons will mention that after 10 to 15 years a revision or exchange may be needed. Some patients opt for exchanges for numerous reasons, many of which have nothing to do with issues or problems. While typical breast reconstruction can take two procedures to complete, sometimes additional surgeries are needed to correct symmetry or reconstruct the areolae. Your reconstructive surgeon should discuss these options with you and give you an idea of what your situation may require.
Will I still have to have mammograms?
Most times, women who have undergone breast reconstruction no longer need routine mammograms. That being said, if something concerning is found during a physical exam, one should be performed. For patients with silicone gel implants, breast MRI scans are recommended three years after the procedure and then every two years after to check for ruptures in the implant. Even without the need for routine mammograms, breast reconstruction patients should still perform weekly self-checks to minimize all risks.
When can I wear a normal bra?
Reconstructive surgeons will often recommend patients wear a compression bra for the first four to six weeks. This is because standard bras don’t often provide the support needed and are usually avoided within the first couple of weeks. Additionally, they can irritate incisions and make it difficult to heal. Your reconstructive surgeon will give you the best idea of when you can return to wearing your normal bras.
Schedule a Consultation
The path to recovery with breast reconstruction is an important one. To meet with Dr. Hall and discuss your best options, we invite you to contact our office by calling or filling out our online form.