You will probably be sent home the day of your surgery. You will likely receive painkillers and antibiotics to reduce the chance of infection.
You will wear a compression vest around your chest for a period of about 1 month. You'll also have surgical dressings and Steri-strips along the incision lines. Your surgeon will give you instructions about when to remove the dressings and when it is okay to shower. The Steri-strips are usually left in place and will fall off on their own.
During the healing process your body will want to generate lots of fluid around the surgical site. To prevent this fluid from building up in your chest, it needs to be drained. The surgeon will insert drains for this purpose, and you will be taught how to monitor and empty them. The drains will be removed by the surgeon during a clinic visit 3 to 7 days following surgery.
It is normal for the incisions on your chest to be red, but this redness should not extend to more than 1 to 2 cm from the incision (if they extend beyond this, seek medical attention). It is also normal to see or feel the knot from the stitches at the end of the incision. These knots can be annoying, but they are nothing to worry about. If they work their way to the surface (which would usually happen around 3 weeks) they can be clipped free by a health care provider. Bruising and swelling is expected and is not a cause for concern unless there is an unusually large amount of swelling on one side.
The number of check-ups needed varies from person to person. Your surgeon will likely ask you to come in for a check-up around one week after your surgery, and again at 4 to 6 weeks. You can also see your primary care provider about any concerns in the post-operative period. When you visit your surgeon or primary care provider, they should check your surgical sites to make sure there are no infections or wound healing problems. They will ask questions about pain, bleeding, bowel movements, fever and how you are feeling physically and emotionally.
Recovery time varies from person to person, so always follow the advice of your own surgeon. Many people feel comfortable within two weeks following chest construction, but you'll need plenty of rest during those weeks. Expect to limit your arm movement for the first 2 to 3 weeks. It is common to return to your daily activities gradually over the 4 to 6 weeks following your surgery. Some activities, such as driving, heavy lifting, exercise, sex and soaking in hot tubs, may be restricted in the post-operative period. Your surgeon will give you advice about when it is okay to resume these activities.
Chest construction revisions are fairly common, especially if you had more chest tissue to remove or if you have less skin elasticity. Six to eight months after your surgery is complete, you and your surgeon can determine whether a surgical revision is needed. With a letter of recommendation from your surgeon, the cost of your revision will be covered by the BC Medical Services Plan.
Common reasons for a surgical revision include:
- To improve contour (with liposuction)
- To address scarring
- To correct skin excess, bulges or puckering
- To adjust the nipple-areola complex position or size