Follow-Up Care for Breast Reconstruction
Most women return to normal activities within six weeks after surgery. It may be several weeks before you can do strenuous exercise.
After you go home, you can expect some soreness, swelling, and bruising for two to three weeks. You may be asked to apply medications to the suture area or change bandages at home. Your plastic surgeon will advise you about showering, bathing, and wound care.
The mastectomy and breast reconstruction will leave areas of numbness where the surgery was performed. Instead of feeling pain where the tissue was taken, a patient may feel numbness and tightness. In time, some feeling may return in your breasts. Most scars will fade over time.
The shape of your reconstructed breast will gradually improve over the months following the reconstruction.
You'll be asked to return for regular checkups at first. If you have a temporary expander implanted, it will be expanded with saline once a week, on average, until the desired size is obtained (usually within six to 10 office visits).
After breast reconstruction, you should continue to examine your breasts every month. You should continue to have regular screening exams, such as an annual mammogram.
Breast reconstruction has no bearing on cancer recurrence or surveillance, and generally does not interfere with chemotherapy or radiation treatment. A recurrence can still be treated by any of the standard treatment methods, which include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. In addition, reconstruction rarely, if at all, hides or obscures a local recurrence.
Does Insurance Cover Breast Reconstruction?
Insurance coverage for breast reconstruction surgery varies. Make sure to speak with someone at your insurance company who knows the policy. In most cases, insurance companies will cover the first breast reconstruction operation, but there are many gray areas in insurance coverage.
If you are seeking breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, federal law requires health insurance plans to cover reconstruction associated with a mastectomy. Insurance coverage for re-operation procedures or follow-up visits to your doctor may not be covered, however.