Breast Cancer and Breast Reconstruction

Preparing for your operation

This is the first and most important part of your treatment plan. Before proceeding with breast reconstruction surgery, your consultant will thoroughly discuss the options most suited to your body and tissue type, health, age, and objectives. Your consultant will openly discuss the possible breast reconstruction risks and complications associated with the particular procedure you will undergo.

Your surgeon should also tell you about the anesthesia that will be used in the surgery, and the full cost of breast reconstruction surgery.

You will be given written information to take home in order to contemplate your options. At your second consultation all of your queries will be answered and a definite plan in regard of the breast reconstruction is set.

Once the reconstruction type is decided you will be given specific instructions about preparing for your breast reconstruction surgery. You will receive guidelines concerning foods, beverages, and medications to avoid. Smokers will be advised to quit at least two weeks prior to surgery because smoking impedes healing.

Recovering from your operation:

Following your procedures, you will be followed up daily by your consultant and a specialised team of nurses who will be looking after you throughout the duration of your stay.

Patients can usually expect to reach full recovery about six weeks after their breast reconstruction surgery. However, recovery time may be extended if a patient decides to have another procedure, such as nipple reconstruction.

The First Few Weeks

Breast reconstruction patients will remain in the hospital for two to five days following the initial surgery. Drainage tubes used to drain excess fluid from the surgical site will be removed in one to two weeks and stitches will be removed in seven to ten days. Recovery may take six weeks or more if a flap breast reconstruction is performed. If breast implant reconstruction surgery is performed, the recovery time may be shorter than six weeks.

Following breast reconstruction surgery, patients will experience moderate pain, discomfort, and fatigue for several weeks. Patients will be advised to avoid strenuous physical activity following breast reconstruction surgery. Patients will not recover normal sensation in the breast, but may regain some feeling over time. Scars will be prominent during this time, and patients may experience mild to moderate itching as the incisions start to heal.

The First Several Months

Though you should make a near full recovery by about six weeks, secondary reconstruction procedures will lengthen the recovery time. Doctors usually perform nipple reconstruction after eight weeks.

At this time, swelling and bruising of the breast mound have disappeared, and the mound has settled into its final shape. This is also the time to consider refining the natural breast if you desire more symmetry or for your breasts to feel more alike, although some doctors may refine your natural breast at the time of your initial breast reconstruction.

It is important to remember that secondary breast reconstruction surgery will not restore feeling to the breast mound, however, it can add to the aesthetic appeal of the reconstructed breast.

It may take time to adjust emotionally to having a reconstructed breast. It may help to talk with other women who have had the procedure or to one of our specialist breast care nurses.

For further information and appointments please contact us on:
+44 (0) 20 7234 2009, info.lbh@hcahealthcare.co.uk