Breast reconstruction is surgery to rebuild the shape of your breast after you've had part or all of your breast removed because of cancer. You may have had a tissue expander or an implant placed during the surgery. If an expander was placed, salt water (saline) or air was added to it to start stretching your skin.
Right after the surgery, you will probably feel weak, and you may feel pain for 2 to 3 weeks. You may have a pulling or stretching feeling in your breast area. You can expect to feel better and stronger each day, although you may need pain medicine for a week or two. You may get tired easily or have less energy than usual. This may last for several weeks after surgery.
You will likely have several drains near your incision. These help with healing. The drains will be removed when the fluid buildup slows. Drains are usually removed in the first few weeks after surgery.
Stitches usually are removed in 5 to 10 days.
If you had an expander placed, you will need to regularly see your doctor every couple of weeks. During these visits, more salt water will be added to the expander. Or if you have an expander that uses air, you may need to add air at home. After several months, this will stretch the skin enough to cover the implant.
Your new breast may feel firmer and look rounder or flatter than your other breast. The new breast may not have the same shape as your breast did before it was removed. Breast reconstruction with an implant won't restore normal feeling to your breast. It may take several months for your breast to heal.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
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