After undergoing surgery for breast cancer, or having voluntary preventative mastectomy/mastectomies, many women choose to have reconstruction to restore the size, shape and symmetry of their breasts. Breast reconstruction can be performed to restore symmetry to your breasts after a lumpectomy, or to rebuild one or both of your breasts after a single or double mastectomy. If possible, it is helpful to see Mr Timms before your cancer surgery, as reconstruction can sometimes be performed at the same time. In other cases, such as when further surgery might interfere with radiotherapy or chemotherapy, reconstruction can be performed months or even years later.
Mr Timms will discuss the different types of surgery that are used to reconstruct the breast(s). There are two basic methods of reconstruction:
- A flap reconstruction involves the use of your own tissues such as skin/fat from the back or abdomen to replace the skin/tissue lost from the breast. This method is used to recreate the breast’s very natural appearance.
- With implant reconstruction, the breast is reconstructed using an insertion of a temporary implant called a tissue expander (TE). This implant is slowly expanded, usually once per week, with sterile fluid to encourage gradual stretching of the breast tissue and skin. When the breast has reached the size/volume that you are happy with (in consultation with Mr Timms and our practice nurses) then the TE is removed and a permanent implant is inserted.
Post Operative Care
During Your Hospital Stay
- depending on the type of breast reconstruction your hospital stay may be 5-10 days (in particular for flap reconstruction). You will have a general anaesthetic and will wake up with dressings over the breast(s), and wound drains for flap reconstruction. You will be nursed in a warm environment for 2 days and analgesia will be prescribed for you during your hospital stay. You will have an appointment with Mr Timms’ nurse 7-10 days after your discharge from hospital where we will remove dressings and discuss care at home.
WHAT TO WEAR
- a soft bra/crop top/singlet with shelf will be adequate support during your hospital stay. Wear loose fitting clothing during your hospital stay. A specialised surgical bra is advised once you are home and a little more active. This bra will be discussed when you have your pre operative consultations with Mr Timms and will also be discussed with our staff whilst we are organising your admission.
POST OPERATIVE ACTIVITY
- Mr Timms’ advises you to refrain from driving for at least 2 weeks and possibly up to 4 weeks post Breast Reconstruction (depending on the type of reconstruction). It is very difficult to have a seatbelt over the surgical site(s) whilst driving and you may be still influenced by medication needed for pain relief. It is very important to REST. You are also advised to avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for up to 6 weeks. Mr Timms will discuss this with you during your 6 week review appointment.
POST OPERATIVE APPOINTMENTS
- you will see Mr Timms’ nurse in the rooms 7-10 days after your surgery or soon after your discharge from hospital
- we will discuss pain relief, levels of activity, scar management and organise follow-up appointments
- please contact the rooms to speak to the nurse if you have concerns in between appointments