How long is recovery after breast reconstruction?

Recovery time after breast reconstruction differs from patient to patient and varies between different procedures.

Breast reconstruction is a popular surgical option for many women who have had mastectomies, either because of cancer or another medical condition. The procedure involves taking tissue from other parts of the body or using silicone implants to rebuild the breast.

While this can be a wonderful way to restore your breasts, there are some important factors about recovery that you should consider before going through the process. Recovery time varies from person to person but can take anywhere from four weeks to eight weeks depending on what type of reconstruction is being done and how much tissue was taken during surgery. It’s also important to remember that every woman has different levels of pain tolerance and will recover at her own pace.

Read on to find out more about what to expect after breast reconstruction and what you can do to enjoy a smooth recovery process.

How long does recovery take?  

The duration of your recovery will depend on a number of factors, including your overall health and the surgical technique that your surgeon chooses. It is completely normal to experience some pain and discomfort immediately after your procedure. Your surgeon will prescribe you pain medication to ease your discomfort during this time. Your surgeon will let you know how long you will need to stay in the hospital. When you are ready to go home, you will be given instructions on caring for your surgical wounds.

When you return home after breast reconstruction surgery, you can expect to experience some pain, bruising and swelling for up to four weeks. Gradually, these side effects will resolve — most patients are able to resume their usual activities between six and eight weeks following surgery. Your surgeon will let you know when it is safe to begin more strenuous exercise and heaving lifting again.

It is important that you see your surgeon for any follow-up appointments that have been scheduled so that they can check that your recovery is on track.

What can you do to aid recovery?

It is important to remember that breast reconstruction is major surgery, so it is advisable that you plan for any help that you need during the recovery period. You will be able to drive for around four weeks, so be sure to plan for this. You will also need some help with heavy lifting and certain day-to-day activities. Getting the help that you need and making time for adequate rest will make your recovery easier to cope with.

It is also advisable that you stock your home with plenty of healthy food. Try to have lots of nutritious options on hand so that you can keep your body nourished while it heals. It is also important to drink plenty of water in order to stay hydrated.

In order to enjoy a smooth recovery, it is essential that you adhere to any instructions that your surgeon gives you. Take proper care of your surgical wounds, get plenty of sleep, and discuss proper pain management with your surgeon to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible.  

How can we help?

Dr Sally Ng offers a range of plastic and reconstructive surgeries, including breast reconstruction. If you have been through cancer treatment and would like to restore a natural-looking appearance, we encourage you to come in for a consultation. Dr Sally Ng will explain your options to you and guide you through the process, from the initial consultation and planning stage to the procedure itself and the recovery period.

If you would like to find out more about breast reconstruction, please have a look here.

If you would like to arrange a consultation, please get in touch here or give us a call on (03) 9587 2048.  

Dr Ng also offers a range of other surgical procedures for the breast and body — see the full list of treatments here.