Skip to content

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Complications of Reconstructive Surgery continued...

Another possible complication with implants involves the body's tendency to form a protective covering of scar tissue around the implant. Called "capsular contracture," it results in the implant feeling too firm. In this situation, an operation may be required to correct it. 

Infection may also develop after implant surgery. In some cases, the implant will need to be removed for several months until the infection gets better. A new implant can be inserted once the infection is completely cleared. 

Flap procedures can be complicated by infections that can usually be treated with antibiotics.

Although relatively uncommon, the usual complications associated with surgery, such as bleeding, fluid collection, poor healing, excessive scar tissue, or difficulties with anesthesia, may occur. These complications, should they occur, can be treated in the hospital.

How Long Does Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction Last?

Combined breast cancer surgery and reconstruction may take up to seven hours; however, the actual surgical time may be about three to four hours. 

The first part of the surgery involves surgery preparation, delivering anesthesia, and the removal of the cancer. This may take approximately two hours. After this, the plastic surgery team takes over to perform the reconstructive procedure. This may take one to three hours. 

Following surgery, you will spend approximately two to three hours in the recovery room before being transferred to a hospital room. 

What Is Recovery From Surgery Like in the Hospital?

For the first few days after surgery, you may feel some discomfort.  Your doctor will prescribe pain medicine to control your pain, as needed. Throughout your hospital stay, your recovery will be closely monitored.

Soon after surgery you will be asked to move your arms, but not for any forceful activities. Nurses will help you get in and out of bed. The day after surgery you may be allowed to sit in a chair. On the second day after surgery, most patients are walking without assistance.

If you have "tummy flap" surgery, you will have a urinary catheter in overnight or until you can walk to the bathroom. You will also have drains at the incision sites. If you go home with these drains in place, you will be given instructions on how to care for them. 

The length of your hospital stay will depend on the type of operation you have and how your recovery progresses. After implantation reconstruction, the average length of stay is one to two days. Flap procedures require a stay of five to six days.

 

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
 
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
 
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
VIDEO
Resolved To Quit Smoking
SLIDESHOW
 
Woman getting mammogram
Article
Screening Tests for Women
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
serious woman
Article
 
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow
SLIDESHOW