Implant Breast Reconstruction Recovery: A Six Week Guide
By: Courtney Floyd
If you are having direct to implant reconstruction you should plan for an overnight stay in the hospital. You should also expect to have drainage tubes. If you are having your tissue expanders replaced for implants then you likely won’t need drains, and you should be able to go home the same day. A surgical bra (provided to you in the hospital) should be worn at all times and a follow up appointment with your surgeon will be scheduled for the end of the week. Remember to continue to take your antibiotics as prescribed by your surgeon. Absolutely no heavy lifting or strenuous activity while you are recovering, but walking should be resumed as soon as the effects of general anesthesia have worn off following surgery.
Surgical drains are usually removed around 10 days after surgery. You may continue to wear the surgical bra provided after surgery or you can switch to a wireless support bra. It is important to increase the amount you are walking as you feel comfortable.
Swelling will continue to decrease into week three. You should begin your range of motion exercises to decrease shoulder and axilla stiffness. By week three, most patients can return to work, but heavy lifting and strenuous activity should still be avoided. You can start using a topical scar therapy as long as your incisions have completely healed and you are cleared to do so by your surgeon.
It’s been one month since your surgery. You will follow up with your surgeon to check healing progress and results. Keep increasing your range of motion and activity as allowed by your surgeon.
Nerves damaged during your mastectomy may begin to “wake up” around week five and you may experience new pains in your breast. This is normal and will decrease over time.
Hooray you made it! During week six you should be feeling more “normal’ and will likely be released from most, if not all restrictions. By now, it is safe to switch to the bra of your choice.