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What to Expect With a Breast Reconstruction

After a mastectomy or lumpectomy, which are generally used to treat breast cancer, reconstructive surgery will be recommended to reshape the breast to match the shape it once had.

Types of Breast Reconstructive Surgery

The two most commonly used surgeries following a mastectomy or lumpectomy include implant surgery or skin flap surgery.  Depending on the situation, both types of surgery may be used to achieve a more natural looking result.

Implant Surgery

With implant reconstructive surgery, an implant made of silicone, saline, or a combination of the two is inserted under the pectoral chest muscle. This is the less invasive surgery of the two options. When choosing this option, it should be noted that implants don’t last a lifetime. They may need to be replaced in 10 to 20 years.

Skin Flap Surgery

Skin flap reconstructive surgery replaces the removed tissue with skin, fat, and muscle from other areas of your body. In most cases, this tissue comes from the stomach, lower back, buttocks, and thighs. While implants last a decade or two, the tissue taken from other parts of the body will last a lifetime and won’t need to be replaced.

Risk Factors for Breast Reconstructive Surgery

The risks associated with breast reconstructive surgery are consistent with most other surgical procedures:

  • Blood clots or excessive bleeding
  • Infection at the site of incision
  • Adverse reaction to anesthesia
  • Extreme fatigue

In the long-term issues may include:

  • Limited sensation of the breast and/or nipples
  • Loss of muscular strength
  • Uneven breasts
  • Breast implant leakage or rupture

What is Recovery Like?

With both surgeries, a patient can expect to spend several days in the hospital following the surgery. However, recovery may take a bit longer with a skin flap surgery since it involves more natural tissue.

In general, it will take approximately two months before the patient is able to return to a regular, active lifestyle. During this period of time, it is common to experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Bruising, soreness, and swelling
  • Restricted movement of the arms

Long-term, some feeling may return to the breast over the course of a few years, and it may take one to two years for scars to fade.

Talk With Your Doctor

Your doctor will guide you through the reconstruction process and explain what options they recommend for your situation. If you have any questions about the procedure, or would like to schedule an appointment in the Boston area, contact Dermcare Physicians & Surgeons give us a call at (978) 244-0060.

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