Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy: What to Expect

Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy: What to Expect

Mastectomy is a procedure to remove one or both breasts. It’s a type of major surgery, and it’s usually done to treat certain breast cancers that have a high risk of spreading to other areas of your body.

In a mastectomy, your surgeon removes all of your breast tissue. It can be an effective treatment option for breast cancer, but unfortunately, it often leaves women with bodies they don’t recognize as their own.

That’s why breast reconstruction is a popular procedure for women after mastectomy. Reconstruction typically uses breast implants or tissue from elsewhere in your body to restore the shape of your chest. While reconstruction isn’t necessary, it can help you feel like yourself again.

Walter D. Gracia, MD, PA, is a leading breast surgeon in Fort Worth, Texas, specializing in breast augmentation. If you need a mastectomy and are curious about your options after cancer treatment, here’s what you can expect with breast reconstruction.

Your breast reconstruction options after mastectomy

There are two main types of breast reconstruction following mastectomy: implant and tissue. Implant reconstructions use breast implants to add volume to the breasts, while tissue (flap) reconstructions use tissue from somewhere else in your body to rebuild breasts.

Dr. Gracia is familiar with a variety of breast implant technologies and breast reconstruction techniques. He reviews your medical history and your goals for the procedure to help you determine which method is best for you.

Depending on your goal breast size and your general health, he can help you choose between saline and silicone implants, tissue reconstruction, or both to achieve your desired look.

What happens during breast reconstruction surgery

If you choose breast reconstruction, Dr. Gracia works with you to determine the best surgical method and size of your implants. Our team gives you all the information you need to prepare ahead of your procedure.

On the day of surgery, we prepare you for the procedure. Some women get breast reconstruction at the same time as their mastectomy. For others, delayed reconstruction after mastectomy may take two stages.

All breast reconstruction procedures require general anesthesia to keep you comfortable. Once the anesthesia takes effect, Dr. Gracia begins your surgery.

He inserts the breast implant under your skin or chest muscle immediately after mastectomy in immediate reconstruction. In delayed reconstruction, he starts by placing a device under your skin to gradually stretch the tissues in your chest. After several months, he removes the device and places the permanent implant.

Following implant placement, an additional procedure may be necessary to reconstruct your nipple and areola.

What to expect during breast reconstruction recovery

Once your reconstruction procedure is complete, you’re moved into a recovery room. You spend at least one night in the hospital following breast reconstruction, and you’re discharged within a few days.

Your breasts will be noticeably different right away, but post-surgical swelling can affect their shape and size. Try to be patient as you wait to see the final results.

Our team gives you instructions for recovery at home, including caring for surgical drains, changing bandages, and wearing support garments. Depending on the reconstruction method Dr. Gracia used, you may feel sore and tired for about two weeks after surgery. 

Rest and limit activity for several weeks. Under Dr. Gracia’s guidance, you may reintroduce your usual activities within about 6-8 weeks. Around this time, bruising and swelling should start to dissipate, and the results of your reconstruction will be more visible.

Plan to continue regular follow-up appointments with our team as you heal. Readjusting to life with breasts can bring complex emotions, especially if you got reconstructive surgery several years after your mastectomy. Never hesitate to ask us or other providers on your healthcare team any questions you may have.

Breast reconstruction and augmentation can help you feel more like yourself after mastectomy. To find out if you’re a good candidate, book a consultation with Dr. Gracia. Call our office at 817-336-9450 or request an appointment online now.

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