You will likely have many questions running through your head before breast reconstruction surgery. Feeling prepared and ready for surgery requires several steps. As you prepare for your breast reconstruction surgery, here are 7 ways you can feel ready.
What is Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
Breast reconstruction often involves multiple breast procedures. Depending on your case, your surgery may look a little different. The goal of breast reconstruction is to restore either one or both breasts back to their normal shape, size, and appearance.
In general, breast reconstruction falls into two categories: implant or flap reconstruction. It can involve several procedures in stages. The type of mastectomy, body type, and cancer treatment will all guide the best approach to breast reconstruction. If only one breast is affected, then the breast may be restructured alone. With breast asymmetry, other procedures may be recommended like breast reduction or a breast lift to increase symmetry.
Types of Breast Reconstruction Surgery Options
Several factors influence your type of breast reconstruction surgery, like cancer treatments, type
of mastectomy, and body type. The main ways to perform breast reconstruction are implants, using your own tissue, or a combination of the two.
Reconstruction with Breast Implants
You can use breast implants to replace all or some of the breast tissue. Sometimes, the breast implant can be put in front of or under the chest muscle to form the new breast shape. You can choose to have reconstruction with implants alongside a mastectomy or afterwards.
Flap reconstruction uses tissue from another part of the body. In flap reconstruction, your plastic surgeon will take tissue from another part of the body to create a new breast mound. The tissue can come from an area like the lower abdomen or thigh. Your surgeon may remove blood vessels, muscle, tissue, and fat to create the new breast. There are several types of flap reconstruction that your surgeon may use.
Another option is to combine breast implants and flap reconstruction techniques in one procedure. The type of breast reconstruction will depend on the type and stage of cancer, your feelings, desires, concerns, and any other treatments you may need.
Nipple Reconstruction After Mastectomy
Nipple reconstruction surgery is often considered the final stage of breast reconstruction surgery. It usually takes place a few months after breast reconstruction. There are different techniques that your surgeon can use to create a new nipple through surgical methods and nipple tattooing. Nipple reconstruction is usually an additional procedure to complete the final look of your new breasts.
When Do You Have Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
You can get breast reconstruction surgery at the time of your mastectomy, or after your mastectomy. There are advantages and disadvantages to both immediate reconstruction and delayed breast reconstruction.
Some people prefer to have reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy to get the surgery over in one go. While others prefer to wait until all their treatment is finished before thinking about breast reconstruction. There is no wrong or right answer. The best approach will depend on your individual case.
7 Ways to Prepare for Breast Reconstruction Surgery
Breast reconstruction surgery can help you feel like your normal self again. But, it’s important to keep in mind that it may not look exactly like your natural breast. So, you need to go into the surgery with realistic expectations. Here are 7 ways to help you prepare for breast reconstruction surgery.
1. Know What to Expect
Before your procedure, you should speak to your surgeon during your cosmetic surgery consultation so you know what to expect from the surgery. Prior to your surgery, you should know what is going to happen, including things like:
- What anaesthesia is used
- Possible complications and risks
- What’s involved in the surgery
- How long the surgery will take
- What to expect during your recovery
2. Follow Your Surgeon’s Pre-Operative Instructions
To prepare for your breast reconstructive surgery, your surgeon will give pre-operative instructions. This could include quitting smoking, not drinking a few weeks before, avoiding certain medications, and instructions on what to do the day of the surgery. It’s important that you follow the instructions.
3. Arrange Travel Home
Arrange for a family member or friend to drive you home after the surgery. You will also need someone to stay with you for the first few days. It’s much more comforting having a familiar face drive you home than a taxi.
4. Prepare Your Body
One element of preparing for surgery is getting your body ready. In the weeks running up to your surgery, make sure that you’re exercising and following a healthy diet. You can begin to up your protein intake prior to your procedure.
5. Schedule Time Off Work
You will need a few weeks to rest and recover after your surgery. Schedule time off work and arrange for any help around the house or with children if necessary. You may need help with childcare and driving to post-operative appointments. Set up a comfortable recovery zone in your home with everything you need in a reachable position.
6. Pack Your Surgery Bag
The day before your procedure, pack your surgery back. Include items such as comfortable clothing, reading glasses, a water bottle, and a small comfortable pillow for the drive home.
7. Stop Smoking
When you’re getting ready for surgery, your surgeon will tell you to stop smoking. They can offer advice for quitting smoking at this stage too. Smoking can hinder the healing process. A key element of preparing for breast reconstruction surgery will be leading a healthy lifestyle, stopping smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Breast reconstruction is major surgery, so it’s important that you feel confident in your plastic surgeon and prepare for the procedure. If you’re not sure about anything, be sure to ask your doctor, and they can help answer your questions, reassure you, and guide you through the process.
To book a consultation today, contact the team at the Harley Clinic.