Breast reconstruction surgery seeks to restore the shape of the breast following mastectomy. It could be performed at the same time as your surgery or after a certain period of time. Before deciding on this surgery, here are 18 important questions to ask your plastic surgeon.
What experience and training do you have?
Check the credentials of your plastic surgeon prior to the surgery. You want to make sure you are working with an expert.
Can I view before and after photos?
Having a look at his surgical work will help you know whether you will like the end result.
Where do you perform the surgery?
Breast reconstruction is mostly performed in a hospital setting. The type of anesthesia dictates where the surgery will take place. General anesthesia requires monitoring equipment so you can expect it to be conducted in a hospital setting.
What shape and size are you recommending for me?
The shape and size of your breast implant will depend on the existing breast tissue, type of body and frame.
How long will my breast implant last?
Breast implants could last for up to 10 years; make sure you visit your surgeon occasionally to have them checked.
What results are reasonable for me to expect?
Once the procedure is over, you can expect some scarring, you will feel sore but this should improve after some time. You will have drainage tubes inserted at the locations of your incisions to prevent buildup of fluid.
What incision site do you recommend for me?
During reconstructive surgery, the incision placement and length is determined by your surgeon and influenced by the type of cancer surgery.
For how long will I be in pain?
After any type of operation, it’s normal to experience pain or discomfort. The pain will last for a few weeks, but your surgeon will prescribe some pain killers.
Will my breast implants change during pregnancy?
Women planning to get pregnant after breast reconstruction may not be able to have TRAM flap due to stretching of the belly. Stretching of the belly may put too much strain on the abdominal wall and incision causing pain and discomfort.
How long do you expect my operation to take?
Combined breast cancer surgery and reconstruction may take up to 7 hours; the actual surgical time is 3 to 4 hours.
What are the risks and complications involved?
Possible complications could include; increased redness or change in color over the breasts, fever, feeling unwell, increased discharged from the wounds.
Can I still get mammograms with breast implants in place?
Women who have had total, modified radical or radical mastectomy need no further mammograms. However, if there is an area of the reconstructed breast that is of concern, a diagnostic mammogram may be done.
For how long will I need help after the surgery?
You will feel tired for the first few weeks you get home from hospital. People do not recover at the same rate though you should be able to do various things like driving after a few weeks.
Where will my scar be?
Breast reconstruction involves using tissue from your tummy, back, thighs and buttocks. Therefore, this procedure leaves surgical scars from where the tissue was taken and on the reconstructed breast. However, most scars following breast reconstruction heal normally and fade with time.
What is my expected recovery time?
You can expect to resume normal daily activities after 2 or 3 weeks. It takes 6 to 8 weeks for the wounds to heal fully.
What alternate procedures are available besides breast implant?
Other than implants, a new breast can be made from muscle, fat and skin taken from elsewhere in the body. This procedure is referred to as autologous tissue transfer. Some surgeons believe it creates a more natural looking and feeling breast. Other procedures include TRAM and DIEP surgeries.
Will my breast implants affect my ability to breastfeed?
Though this issue has long been debated, it was found that breast implants neither affected breastfeeding nor milk production.
What can I do to minimize the risk of complications?
Make sure you follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions. Make sure you change the Steri-strips and keep your wound clean.