Breast reconstruction surgery is a major event in a patient’s life and can be a source of fear or anxiety. At Breast Reconstruction Associates, we want you and your loved ones to feel prepared and supported throughout the entire peri-operative process. Time will be spent with you prior to surgery to review the risks of surgery, the expected hospital course and the details of your post-operative recovery. Here are some basic changes you can expect after DIEP flap breast reconstruction:
- Because of the overall healing response of multiple surgical sites, swelling is normal and expected of the breasts and the abdomen after surgery.
- Swelling can take 4-8 weeks to completely resolve.
- Compression garments such as a compression bra, shape wear or an abdominal binder can help reduce swelling.
- Swelling on one side of the body more than the other (such as one breast vs. the other or one leg vs. the other) warrants a call to your surgeon right away.
2. Scar Tissue
- Scars will continue to remodel and mature which changes their appearance for 1 -2 years after surgery.
- Topical therapies to improve the appearance of scars can be helpful. Please discuss with your surgeon the best options for you after surgery.
- Scar tissue can also cause some tightness and discomfort. This can be improved with stretching, physical therapy or massage therapy of the surgical sites. Your surgeon can discuss this with you after surgery if needed.
- We do our best to position scars in locations generally covered by most clothing/swimwear.
3. Sensory Changes
- Its normal to experience numbness of the breast mound and around the central part of the abdominal incision.
- Sensation can return to surgical site areas, but generally only partial return of sensation is achieved. If sensation has not returned after 6-12 months, the numbness is likely permanent.
- Sensory changes can make it difficult to detect if something is too hot or too cold which is why we discourage the use of ice packs or heating pads.
- We prefer you wait until you are 12 weeks post op to wear an underwire bra. Until that time, you may wear a post-surgical compression bra or a well-fitted sports bra.