Delayed Post-mastectomy Autologous Tissue Breast Reconstruction
What you should know
Post-mastectomy breast reconstruction is done after one or both breasts have been removed. Caregivers may wait until after radiation treatment is completed to reconstruct your breast. Caregivers will implant a flap of tissue taken from another part of your body to recreate your breast. The tissue may be made up of skin, fat, or muscle from your lower abdomen, upper back, buttock, or thigh.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
- You may bleed more than expected or get an infection after surgery. Your heart, lungs, blood vessels, or nerves may be injured during surgery. You may get a blood clot in your arm or leg. The clot may travel to your heart or brain and cause life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack or stroke.
- You may have more scars, and the reconstructed breast may look and feel different than the other breast. The area where the flap was taken may become weak and lead to other problems, such as hernias. You may need extra time to heal from the second surgery.
The week before your surgery:
- Arrange to have someone drive you home after your surgery. Do not drive yourself home.
- Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
- Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
- You may need to donate blood before your surgery. Your blood is stored in case you need it during or after your surgery.
- You may need to have blood and urine tests, a mammogram, chest x-rays, or other tests. Ask your caregiver for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
The night before your surgery:
- You may be given medicine to help you sleep.
- Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.
The day of your surgery:
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
- Ask your caregiver before taking any medicine on the day of your procedure. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital.
- Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
- An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
What will happen:
- You may be given medicine to help you relax or make you drowsy. You may also get anesthesia medicine to keep you completely asleep during surgery.
- Caregivers will make a wide incision in your breast area. Other incisions will be done in another part of your body to get the tissue to recreate your breast. The tissue will be moved to the breast area and may need to be reconnected to the blood vessels in the chest area. Thin rubber tubes may be put into your skin to drain blood from your incision. Mesh may also be placed in the lower abdomen for support if the tissue flap is taken from there. The incisions will be closed with stitches and covered with bandages.
After your surgery:
You will be taken to a room where you can rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely. Do not try to get out of bed. When caregivers see that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room.
Contact a caregiver if
- You cannot make it to your surgery on time.
- You have a fever.
- You feel a new lump in your chest, other breast, or under your arm.
- You see or feel other changes in your breast.
- You have a skin infection or an infected wound near the area where surgery will be done.
- You have questions or concerns about your surgery.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.