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Breast Reconstruction

What Are the Different Reconstruction Options? continued...

Nipple reconstruction is usually done at a later date, after reconstruction of the breast is complete. This allows new breast tissue to heal and settle into place so minor adjustments in size and position can be carried out when the nipple and areola are rebuilt.

It's typically an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia. Tissue is often taken from the newly constructed breast. Medical tattooing can help match the color of the nipple to the other breast and to create the areola.

A prosthetic nipple is another option. The plastic surgeon makes a copy of your natural nipple and colors the areola. It can be glued to the breast and re-glued every week or so.

How Long Does Breast Reconstruction Surgery Take?

Preparation for breast reconstruction surgery, including giving anesthesia, may take 2 hours. Once it begins, the reconstruction will take anywhere from 1 to 6 hours.

Following surgery, you'll spend about 2 to 3 hours in recovery before being transferred to a hospital room.

Recovery From Breast Reconstruction Surgery

For the first few days after surgery, you may have some discomfort. You’ll be given pain medication as needed. Throughout your hospital stay, the staff will closely watch you.

Soon after surgery you’ll be encouraged to move your arms, but not for any forceful activity such as pulling yourself up, getting out of bed, or lifting heavy objects. Nurses will help you in and out of bed. The day after surgery, you’ll may be able to sit in a chair beside the bed. On the second day, most patients are walking without help.

You’ll likely get IV fluids for a day or two. You may have a urinary catheter in overnight or until you can walk to the bathroom. You’ll also have drains at the incision sites. If you go home with these drains in place, you’ll be given instructions on how to care for them.

The length of your hospital stay depends on the type of operation and how your recovery progresses. If you got implants, the average hospital stay is 1 to 2 days. Flap procedures may require a stay of 5 to 6 days.

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