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Breast Reconstruction Post-Ops’ Requirements and Restrictions

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Posted May 01, 2023 in Reconstruction

I often discuss breast reconstruction surgery with my patients, which is a surgical procedure to rebuild a breast removed due to cancer or other medical reasons. The procedure may involve using either an implant, tissue, and/or fat from another body part to reconstruct the breast. After the surgery, following specific post-operative instructions are essential to ensure proper healing and minimize complications. I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to addressing some of the common questions, and concerns many of my patients ask regarding post-op requirements and restrictions for breast reconstruction surgery.

Let’s start with a few general post-operative requirements that my patient will have after surgery.

1. Rest and Recovery: After the surgery, my patients are told to get plenty of rest and allow time for the body to heal. The recovery period can take several weeks or even months, depending on the type of reconstruction performed.

2. Follow-Up Appointments: It’s very important that patients attend all follow-up appointments to monitor their progress and ensure the healing process is going well. These appointments may involve regular check-ups, imaging tests, and adjustments to the surgical site.

3. Physical Therapy: Depending on the type of reconstruction, patients may undergo physical therapy to help restore strength and mobility to the affected area.

4. Wound Care: It is vital that patients carefully follow the wound care instructions provided to prevent infection and ensure proper healing. This may involve changing dressings, cleaning the surgical site, and avoiding activities disrupting the healing process.

Next, what are the restrictions and why.

1. Physical Activity: Patients are told that they should avoid strenuous physical activity for several weeks after the surgery. This includes heavy lifting (greater than 7 pounds), exercise, and any activities that may strain the chest muscles.

2. Sleeping Position: Sleep on their back for several weeks after the surgery is recommended to prevent putting pressure on the surgical site. Depending on the surgery our office may provide specific instructions on how to prop the patient up to prevent rolling over onto the surgical site.

3. Surgical Garments: Following their surgery, patients are fitted with a surgical bra that we recommend they wear continuously, day and night. Typically, patients transition to a more supportive bra 2-3 weeks postop.

4. Showering: Typically, patients can start showering on the second day after their surgery. We advise them to shower with the water flowing towards their back during the first few weeks. In case the breast or incision get wet, it’s important to pat them dry and avoid any scrubbing on the breasts.

5. Driving: Should be avoided for at least a week after the surgery or until cleared

6. Work Restrictions: Taking time off from work to allow for proper healing is important. The length of time off will depend on the type of reconstruction performed and the nature of the patient’s job.

7. Smoking: It is crucial to refrain from smoking for at least six weeks following surgery. This also includes avoiding being in the vicinity of smokers. Smoking can significantly reduce blood flow to the healing tissues, which may increase the risk of infection and delay the healing process.

8. Alcohol: Also, avoid alcohol consumption for several weeks after the surgery. These interfere with the healing process, medications and increase the risk of complications.

We know breast reconstruction surgery is a major surgical procedure requiring careful post-operative care and follow-up. By following post-op our instructions can ensure proper healing and minimize the risk of complications. However, every patient is unique, and communication is key to achieving the best possible outcome. Don’t hesitate to ask us any questions or voice any concerns you may have. We are here to support you and guide you through the final chapter of your journey.

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