What can I expect after breast reconstruction?
Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery
After breast reconstruction, the patient can hope for a more normal appearing breast after the mastectomy. Our goals, as plastic surgeons are to create both Normal appearance and regain symmetry with the contralateral unaffected breast. Breast reconstruction may be performed with prosthetic silicone implants, autologous pedicle flaps of tissue, or free-flaps using microvascular anastomosis. Unfortunately, on very advanced breast cancers (stage 4) often it is not possible to create an absolute perfect match to the opposite breast. In these cases we try to equate similar volumes for the brassiere at least. 
For an expander/implant reconstruction, the hospital stay is usually overnight. For an autogenous flap reconstruction, the hospital stay is generally 4-6 days. Patients are usually walking the day after surgery. Narcotic pain medication is administered through patient-controlled pumps until the pain is reduced and patients can take pain pills by mouth. Recovery is about 1 to 2 weeks with an expander/implant, and about 3-8 weeks if a flap reconstruction is done. 

Continue Learning about Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Women who have aggressive forms of breast cancer, or who are at high risk of developing the disease, sometimes choose to have a mastectomy, the surgical removal of one or both breasts. Some patients may then choose to have surgery ...

to reconstruct their breasts to restore their form and shape. During this procedure, doctors can replace any skin, breast tissue or a nipple that they may have removed during the surgery. (If you still need radiation therapy after your mastectomy, your doctor may suggest you wait for reconstructive surgery until after you finish treatment.) Breast implants, filled with either silicone or saline, can be used to reshape your breast, or you can even use your own tissue, a procedure called flap surgery. Both breast implants and flap surgery are complex procedures, each with their own risks; they may require second surgeries to position the breasts correctly. Most insurance companies will cover this type of reconstructive surgery. Learn more about breast reconstruction with expert advice from Sharecare.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.