Even if you think you are prepared for breast reconstruction surgery, more often than not, you will still have questions for your surgeon. This is very understandable since patients are normally taking a lot and are feeling stressed during that period.
For most patients, the diagnosis of breast cancer comes as a surprise with many associated uncertainties. Even patients who are considering delayed or prophylactic mastectomies and reconstruction have a lot of information to take in when making their reconstruction choices. At Breast Reconstruction Associates, we have been caring for patients like you since 2014. We want you to feel comfortable and informed about what autologous breast reconstruction can offer you. Here are a few of the most common patient questions we receive to help you further process and understand your decision to undergo breast reconstruction.
Q: How much pain can I expect after surgery?
A: Most patients experience a very tolerable degree of post-operative pain. Our pain medication regimen which is aligned with the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocol has proven remarkably effective. After surgery, most patients are able to do their regular activities of daily living and sleep with mild-moderate discomfort. The majority of our patients are no longer needing regular pain medications after 2 weeks.
Q: What will my breast size be?
A: During the initial reconstruction surgery, it is possible to control the width and the height of the flap when creating a breast. The depth, or projection, of the flap is largely dependent on the depth, or projection, of the abdominal tissue. Your surgeon should be able to estimate how close to your current breast size you will be after surgery at your consultation. It is possible to make adjustments to size and shape after the initial reconstruction surgery if needed.
Q: Will I have drains after surgery?
A: You can expect a drain in each breast that is operated on and 1-2 drains in your abdomen after surgery. Typically, patients will go home with all of their drains in place. While inpatient, your nurse will educate you regarding the emptying, recording of drainage and general care of your drains before you go home. Once at home, our team is available to address any questions or concerns that may come up. Most patients have their drains removed 1-2 weeks after surgery.
Q: What kind of bra should I wear after surgery?
A: You will be given a hospital-issued post-surgical bra after surgery. This eliminates the need to purchase a bra prior to reconstruction. After surgery, you may be fitted for a compression bra in our office for proper sizing and comfort.
Q: When can I start exercising again?
A: After surgery, we ask that you limit your activities to light walking, no core muscle use, and lifting weight less than 10 pounds. Once you are 4 weeks post-op, you may start cardio activities such as using the stationary bike or the elliptical machine. After this point, let your surgeon guide you as to how and when to get back into more strenuous activities. In general, most patients are free of restrictions and may use their core muscles again 12 weeks after surgery.
If you have additional questions, make a list! We are happy to be your resource for breast reconstruction information. Contact one of our offices in Fort Worth, Austin or Oklahoma City for more information or to schedule a consultation.