Some women prefer to receive their breast reconstruction immediately following their mastectomy. Others opt to finish their treatment prior to reconstruction. All of them will need to prepare for breast reconstruction surgery. You may notice that many facets of your preparation will be similar to other surgeries you have undergone in the past. However, there are a few things that are relatively unique to the reconstruction process.
What to Look for in Your Plastic Surgeon?
Preparing for breast reconstruction surgery starts with discussing all aspects of the procedure with your surgeon. Given the aesthetic importance of breasts to most women and the potential risk factors involved in any surgery, it is highly suggested that you seek out a plastic surgeon in Houston with the highest certifications possible. Dr. Cain Linville of Houston, Texas is a prime example, as he is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and the American College of Surgery.
How to Identify the Right Surgeon for You
Once you have found a highly-qualified plastic surgeon, arrange for a consultation. Your Surgeon will help you evaluate the amount of tissue you have left as well as your overall physical structure to help you decide whether you would be best suited to implant-based breast reconstruction or a breast reconstruction using flap surgery.
Feel free to ask the consulting surgeon for examples of their past work. The images provided will help you with realistic expectations. This is critical to prepare for breast reconstruction. As all bodies are different, pay close attention to the amount of visible scarring and the overall shape of the breast for the most relevant indication of how their skill-level and personal aesthetic will affect your results.
Preparing for Breast Reconstruction – Day of Surgery
If you have children or pets, make sure you have a caregiver lined up for at least a few days after your surgery. Ultimately, it will be a few weeks before you’re able to keep up with them again, so having a grandparent come to town for that period may be in your best interest. In addition, make sure you stop eating and drinking prior to surgery according to your surgeon’s instructions. Ignoring them can have deadly consequences if you regurgitate and then inhale while under anesthesia.
Depending on the type of surgery you have, the American Cancer Society states that most breast reconstruction patients are able to return home from the hospital after just a few days. Make sure you have someone lined up to bring you home once you’re discharged from the hospital’s care. You’ll still be on medication and may be a bit out of it as a result. In addition to going home with medications and extra dressings, you will also be going home with a drain attached to each breast.
How to Deal with Drains
Although you may find them cumbersome and a bit disgusting, those drains are absolutely necessary to your recovery and long term health. The drains help to prevent fluid build-up, which can lead to a host of complications. The University Health Network suggests “milking” them every three hours and emptying them twice a day. It is totally normal for the amount and color of the fluid to change over time. If one does accidentally fall out, don’t panic, cover the incision area with gauze and call your surgeon to make an appointment.
To maintain their position and your comfort, it is advised that you find a way to affix them to your clothing. Specialty items for mastectomy and reconstruction patients often have pockets sewn inside their garments for the purpose of securing drains. Alternately, you may pick up a Surgical Drainage Bulb belt as suggested by American Nurse Today. Either way, the important thing is to keep the bulbs low, preferably towards the lower abdomen and to prevent pulling on the incision site, which can be painful and problematic.
The Problem with Bras
Unfortunately, even a highly-skilled plastic surgeon will be unable to perfectly recreate your breasts as they existed prior to your mastectomy, so you will have a little shopping in your future. Although you should definitely consider investing in undergarments that make you feel beautiful down-the-road, comfort will be your primary concern during the first few months. Fortunately, Everyday Health’s professionally reviewed article on what to look for in a bra post-reconstruction provides some great insights for patients.
Once you’ve fully recovered, appreciate that your body has gone through a tremendous change, and it may take time to feel comfortable in your own skin again. To that end, don’t be shy about perusing the satins and silks in the intimate wear department. You’ll want something that feels luxurious on the skin and looks beautiful on. It may seem frivolous, but putting on something that makes you feel like yourself again is a crucial step in your mental and emotional recovery after a daunting endeavor.
If you need further assistance preparing for breast reconstruction surgery in Houston, reach out to Dr. Linville today.