Breast reconstruction can be a significant part of physical and emotional recovery for patients who are undergoing or have undergone mastectomy. At Shens Clinic, we make it our priority to provide personalised advice and care throughout the course of the reconstruction process.
Reconstruction can be carried out at the same time as a mastectomy, or in a separate procedure later on, depending on factors such the requirement of radiotherapy.
Breasts can be reconstructed using implants or tissue from other parts of the patient’s body, or a combination of both. The tissue may be harvested from the abdomen or back.
Tissue from the abdomen has a soft texture and results in a soft and natural-feeling breast. Tissue from the back is generally used for the reconstruction of smaller breasts. Some scarring can be expected at both the donor site and the reconstructed breast, but with proper care, this should fade over time.
The recovery period varies from seven days to three weeks, depending on the scale and complexity of the reconstructive procedure.
The result of this procedure would be the recovery of the pre-mastectomy silhouette.
Is the process painful?An anesthetist does the procedure in our day surgery facility under sedation and local anesthesia. Our plastic surgeon will perform the incision during this period. There will be no pain during the process, as the patient will be sleeping.
What to expect after the operation?You will feel tight with discomfort when the anesthesia starts to wear off. Medications will be provided. Our nurses will also teach you arm exercises to relax your chest muscles during the recovery period. Most women could relate this to feeling an engorgement of the breasts. The breast will appear high on the chest with tightness for the next few weeks. It will be lowered after 1st week and more so as time goes by. Patients must be aware that relaxation of chest muscles will vary for different people. Bruising will occur on the 3rd day after the operation.
What to expect before and after the procedure?If you smoke, it’s most likely that you will be advised to quit at least six weeks prior to the procedure. You will also be instructed to refrain from taking any blood-thinning medication, multi-vitamins and supplements two weeks prior to surgery in order to minimize the risk of bleeding. On the day of the surgery, wear comfortable clothing and arrange for someone to drive you home.
After the surgery, you will be required to rest for a few hours. The surgeon or medical staff will give specific instructions and guidelines. It is imperative that you strictly follow all of them to prevent any post-operative complications and to ensure an easy and expedient recovery.
Majority of patients report that they were able to resume regular activities on the 3rd day after the surgery, and eventually return to work within the first week of recovery. During this period, our surgeon will have you come back to review the healing process.
Will the scar be obvious?It depends on the method of your incision.
Above the muscle incision (Through Nipple):Tattooing the nipple colour can hide the scar. Although this method is not the most preferred way for breast implant as this may damage milk glands, some patients find this method of incision less painful post-op.
Under the muscle incision (Through the breast fold):This method is most preferred with a short incision point from the breast fold. The scar is well hidden. Patient can opt to laser and lighten the scar.
Through the armpit incision:This method is very blunt as the incision point is furthest away from the breast. Most plastic surgeons will only choose round implants for this procedure. The scar is well hidden through the armpit as well.