Family members will receive periodic updates during your surgery.
Following the procedure, you will be moved to a special unit in the hospital where you will be connected to monitoring equipment. There, nurses trained in post operative care of breast reconstruction will monitor you at all times. Family members can see you during visiting hours.
You will also receive an informative sheet that discusses your specific information and post-operative care. This likely will include information concerning drain care; it is very important to monitor flow from the drains in a 24-hour period. This guides us on when to remove them. You will also have a kind of thermometer on your chest, which monitors the flap. Other specifics and information will be provided in your post-operative packets.
As You Heal
Family and Friends:
Support from loved ones is very helpful. But understand that comments they may make during your recovery can cause you concern. Remember this: We will tell you honestly how you are doing and what we expect your result will be. Please trust in our knowledge and experience when we discuss your progress with you.
Some patients experience a brief period of “let down” or depression after surgery. As the healing occurs, these feelings usually disappear quickly. If you feel slightly depressed, understanding that this can be a natural phase of the healing process may help you to cope with this emotional state.
You will heal! How quickly depends on factors your genetic background, your overall health and your lifestyle (exercise, smoking, drinking, etc.). Many people believe the surgeon “heals” the patient. No person can make another heal. Dr. Craigie and Dr. Kline can facilitate, but not accelerate, the healing process. But you play the starring role, so your cooperation is key!
Bruising tends to resolve in a time frame much like any other bruise you may have experienced. You should avoid sun exposure of your bruises to help prevent any permanent pigmentation.
Healing and Sensory Nerves:
Regeneration of the sensory nerves is accompanied by tingling, burning, or shooting pains, which disappear with time and are nothing to be alarmed about. However, if this is accompanied by swelling or redness, infection, or bleeding, then call our office.
You may find swelling of your new breast and abdomen (DIEP) or buttock (GAP) to be troublesome and your clothes may not fit. Be patient, this swelling will gradually subside and you will feel better in a few weeks. There will be a certain amount of tightness in the area where the flap was taken from. This will slowly relax in a few months.
Another way to improve healing is by following the instructions given by Dr. Craigie and Dr. Kline’s staff. We believe “the difference is in the details” and strive to achieve the best possible results for you. It is imperative that you act as a partner in this process -- not a passive participant. The instructions are designed to give you the best opportunity for healing without delay or surprise.
Unexpected occurrences are very infrequent. Should the unexpected occur, we will work together with your participation as a complete team and support you through any difficulties on your way to reaching your goal. Rest assured we will assist you in any way possible with regard to such events.
You must continue seeing your oncologist or general surgeon on a regular basis. Mammograms may be performed on the reconstructed breast, but are usually not necessary as the tissue used for reconstruction is not breast tissue.