After Breast Surgery
DAY OF BREAST SURGERY
During your procedure, a doctor will administer a long-acting anesthetic that greatly reduces the pain that was formerly associated with breast surgery. This anesthetic lasts for 3 days and, along with an oral pain medication, will see most people through the first few days very comfortably. After the first 3 days, most people switch to an anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen.
Immediately following your procedure, you will be settled in the recovery area where you will be monitored until you are fully awake and alert. Once you are cleared to leave by our anesthesiologist, you will be given the oral pain medication prescribed for you and you can be driven home or to the recovery retreat. If you go home, you will need to have someone with you for the first 24 to 48 hours to assist you. This can be an adult family member, friend or if you wish, a home nurse can be arranged.
In most cases, you will be placed in a surgical bra which provides gentle compression. This greatly reduces swelling and discomfort. In cases involving fat grafting and many times with breast reconstruction, you will not have a post-operative bra, as maximum blood flow to the area is more important than compression in these cases.
BREAST SURGERY – FIRST WEEK
Most patients will have drains placed to avoid fluid buildup. These must stay in place until the output amount has dropped to a specific volume, typically, 3 to 7 days. These drains ensure that infection won’t develop and while they are a nuisance, they will greatly aid your recovery. Infection can be difficult to treat and can ruin your result so it is important to leave them in place. Our doctors are known for their expertise in repairing breast surgery gone wrong. Drains are part of the recovery process and are worth the extra nuisance they create. Once the fluid output has dropped to 30cc per day, they can be removed by one of our medical staff in our office.
FIRST FEW WEEKS AFTER BREAST SURGERY
Swelling will start to diminish over the next few weeks and most patients will discontinue the use of any narcotic pain medication and switch to anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen.
As with all surgical procedures, inflammation is part of the healing process and, in some cases, may increase between weeks 4 to 6. This is completely normal and is the body’s response to healing.
This can be particularly alarming for patients who have had a breast revision procedure for capsular contracture, as it seems as if the condition is reappearing. This, however, isn’t the case and over the next few weeks, the tissue will soften up after the initial tightening at the 4 to 6 week mark.
Patients will have a one-month checkup to ensure the healing is progressing normally, and after that it is just a matter of following instructions, ensuring proper bra choice, activity level, and recommended post-operative treatments if necessary.
BREAST SURGERY SCARS
Scar tissue will undergo changes for a year following surgery. You will experience the most change during the first 3 months. The scar will stay bright red for the first 6 weeks, and then will start to fade around the 3 month mark. Depending on the color of your skin, the scar may be red, pink or brown. In most cases, regardless of color, the scar will fade significantly over several months. If the color is bothersome to you, there are laser treatments and scar healing gels that can be recommended to improve the color.
We offer laser treatment to speed up the process if you don’t want to wait a year to see your scars fade completely. Since the doctor expertly places her incisions where they are least likely to be seen, this might not be a bother for many people. If you are concerned about this, call the office to schedule an evaluation appointment to see if you are a good candidate for laser scar treatments.
- Placement in surgical bra
- Approval from anesthesiologist to go home
- Supervised care for 24 to 48 hours by a family member, friend or nurse
- Keep all dressings dry and sterile. In the event that you soak your dressings, return to the office for dressing replacement.
- Leave drains in place until fluid output has dropped to 30 cc per day. Once this happens, return to our offices for drain removal.
- Help reduce swelling by taking an anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen.
- Maintain basic physical activities such as opening cabinets, reaching for things, etc., to encourage healing. Do not lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk for the next 6 weeks.
Weeks 4 to 6
- Swelling may increase, which is normal. Maintain anti-inflammatory medication regimen.
- Scar will remain bright red.
Continue to limit heavy lifting and strenuous physical activity.
Weeks 6 to 8
- Patients resume normal activities in most cases after consultation with the doctor.
- Most patients will feel normal around this time and their energy will return.
- Scar will begin to fade. Laser treatments and scar healing gels can be recommended to improve color.