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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Breast Reconstruction Surgery

What Is Recovery From Surgery Like in the Hospital? continued...

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.

Nipple and Areola Reconstruction

In general, the nipple and areola are removed during any mastectomy operation, because breast cancer can recur at those sites.

Some women who have breast reconstruction also choose to have the nipple and areola reconstructed. Most doctors prefer to wait several weeks or months after the first breast operation to rebuild the nipple and areola. This allows new breast tissue to heal and settle into place so minor adjustments, in size and position, can be made during the second procedure.

The nipple/areola reconstruction is typically an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia. Tissue for the nipple/areola is taken from the newly constructed breast. To match the color of the nipple of the other breast and to create the areola, medical tattooing is done at a later time.

The nipple may be temporary or permanent. The plastic surgeon makes a copy of the natural nipple and colors the areola. It can be adhered to the breast using prosthetic glue. It must be reglued every week or so.

What Happens After Breast Reconstruction Surgery?

Most women return to normal activities within six weeks after breast reconstruction surgery, but it may be several weeks before strenuous exercise can be performed.

After you go home, you can expect some soreness, swelling, and bruising for two to three weeks. You may be asked to apply medicines to the suture area or change bandages at home. Your plastic surgeon will advise you about bathing and wound care.

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