Breast Reconstruction After Breast Cancer, What to Know
One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Breast cancer is often treated surgically, which includes removal of part or all of one or both breasts. Breast reconstructive surgery is performed by a plastic surgeon, the same type of surgeon that performs facelifts or liposuction. In most cases, breast reconstructive surgery can be performed at the same time as the cancer removal surgery. This is a very safe option that is frequently done. Some women choose to wait for a period of time after their cancer removal surgery before pursuing breast reconstructive surgery. This is also a safe option. In fact, there is no time frame in which breast reconstruction must be performed. It can usually be done immediately following the cancer removal in the same surgery, or many years down the road. The timing of your breast reconstructive surgery is a personal decision best made between you, your surgical oncologist, and your plastic surgeon.
Understanding the Different Options Available
When you are meeting with your plastic surgeon to discuss breast reconstructive surgery, it is important to note that there are different types of surgical options available. For example, some breasts are reconstructed with implants while others are reconstructed with your body’s own tissue, most commonly from your abdomen. If only one breast is being reconstructed, the other breast may need to be augmented, reduced, or lifted in order to achieve symmetry. It is important to note that even procedures to the unaffected, non-cancerous breast are all covered by insurance. There are advantages to each type of breast reconstructive technique so it is important to meet with your plastic surgeon to determine which is the best reconstructive option for you.
Preparing For Your Plastic Surgery
During your pre-operative consultation you will learn more about the recovery time and steps that you will need to take to prepare for your surgery. For example, you will be told to avoid food and drink starting at midnight the night before your surgery. You may be instructed to stop taking certain medications or supplements before your surgery. You will be provided with prescriptions for painkillers and an antibiotic before the surgery so you have them on hand when you return home after your surgery.
The Recovery Time
The recovery time for surgery can vary based on numerous factors such as the timing and type of the reconstructive procedure. If the breast reconstructive surgery is performed at the same time as the cancer removal surgery, you will stay in the hospital for at least one or two days and sometimes longer depending on the type of reconstructive procedure. You should expect to have bruising and swelling at the surgical incision site for one to two weeks. You will be given a surgical bra to wear after your surgery until you are healed. Your plastic surgeon will provide you with more information regarding your recovery that is customized for you and your type of breast reconstructive surgery.