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Breast Reconstruction Surgery: Symptoms, Classification, Diagnosis & Recovery

Breast reconstruction surgery is a cosmetic reconstructive procedure to restore the normal shape, size, contour, and appearance of the breast as much as possible in women who have had breast surgery done as a part of breast cancer treatment. It is also performed on women who may have damaged breast tissue during a burn accident.

Breast reconstruction is different from a cosmetic procedure on breast such as augmentation or reduction in a way that the former involves greater planning and is done to restore the confidence of the woman battling a condition.

There are different ways by which breast reconstruction may be conducted. The surgeon may decide to use silicone implants or flap of skin, fat, or muscles from the back, thighs, or arm to create the tissue. Most often, a combination of these approaches is used to reconstruct the breasts after mastectomy or lumpectomy.

When is Breast Reconstruction Surgery Required

Breast reconstruction is mostly required by women after they have had surgery done to completely or partially remove the breast tissue as a part of their cancer treatment.

The reconstruction can be done immediately after the breast cancer surgery, after the completion of complete chemotherapy and radiotherapy, or even years later after the completion of breast cancer treatment.

If the woman is scheduled to undergo radiation therapy after breast cancer surgery, the best is to wait until the end of cancer treatment before breast reconstruction is done. If only chemotherapy is advised after the surgery, then reconstruction can be performed immediately after the breast cancer surgery.

It is totally up to the wish of the woman and how confident she is about getting the surgery done and restoring the appearance of the breasts as much as possible. At the same time, it is important to set realistic expectations out of the procedure and to know that the reconstructed breasts may not be the same as original breasts before breast cancer surgery.

The hospital stay after breast reconstruction surgery typically lasts for about 2 to 3 days. Drainage is in place to collect the fluid that may accumulate at the surgical site. It continues to remain in place even after discharge and removed after 8 to 10 days of the surgery.

The stitches removal typically takes place after 10 to 14 days of the surgery. The implants and tissue may take between a few weeks to months to settle completely and therefore, the final results of the surgery in terms of the appearance of the breast can only be assessed after that. Therefore, women are expected to wait patiently for a few months after the reconstructive procedure to see the actual results.

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