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Immediate Post-Mastectomy Tissue and Implant Breast Reconstruction
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Immediate post-mastectomy breast reconstruction is surgery to remodel one or both breasts after a mastectomy. Caregivers will implant a flap of tissue taken from another part of your body to recreate your breast. They will also insert a temporary tissue expander (balloon-like device). Saline (salt water) can be added to the expander to help stretch the skin and tissues of the chest before a permanent implant is placed.
- Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
- Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or surgeon as directed:
You may need to return to have your wound checked, drain or stitches removed, or the expander filled. You may also need to see an oncologist for treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Rest as needed: Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.
- Wound and drain care: When you are allowed to bathe, carefully wash the incision wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty. Check your drain when you change your bandages. Do not pull it out.
Your primary healthcare provider will fill the tissue expander with saline through a small valve under the skin. This will be repeated during several follow-up visits until the skin has stretched enough. An expander may be filled more than the expected breast size. This may create a sag and a more natural looking breast when the expander is replaced with a permanent implant.
After the incisions in the new breast have healed, you may have reconstruction of the nipple and areola. The areola is the dark circle around the nipple. The areola may be reconstructed with skin grafts, part of the areola on the other breast, or by a tattoo.
Contact your primary healthcare provider or surgeon if:
- You have a fever.
- You have discharge or pain in the area where the drain was inserted.
- You have nausea or are vomiting.
- Blood soaks through your bandage.
- Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You feel something is bulging out of your chest and not going back in.
- You have pain in your chest or armpit that does not go away even after you take pain medicines.
- There is blood, pus, or a foul-smelling odor coming from your incision.
- Any part of your arm is numb, tingly, cool, blue, or pale.
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.
- You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough.
- You cough up blood.
Learn more about Immediate Post-Mastectomy Tissue and Implant Breast Reconstruction (Discharge Care)
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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.