Immediately after surgery your new breast size will be apparent, but you should understand that the final shape of your breasts will take around six months to emerge. During your recovery period there are several things you should expect:
Following surgery your breasts will probably be uncomfortable, possibly painful. This is easily relieved, initially by injection and thereafter by taking two mild pain killing tablets such as Paracetamol or Co-dydramol as required. Aspirin must be avoided because it can promote bleeding.
Your dressings should be kept clean and dry for one to two weeks after surgery to allow healing to occur. A comfortable, well-fitted bra is also necessary for the first six weeks.
Bruising of the skin of your new breasts may occur and swelling of the breast tissue may cause them to appear larger than anticipated. However, this should improve markedly in two or three weeks and settle in two to three months. To help decrease swelling and bruising, you will be advised to take Arnica for one week prior to surgery and two weeks afterwards.
You should expect to feel tired for up to two weeks after your surgery. You may drive after the first week but do not return to vigorous exercise for at least three to four weeks.
Because you may need to continue to need dressings if healing is delayed it is best not to make any travel plans for a month or so.
Delayed healing is more likely if you smoke tobacco or drink excess alcohol after surgery. The former, it uses the blood supply in the skin and the latter increases the risk of bruising and bleeding.
Your scars may initially be hard, red, raised and lumpy and can take up to eighteen months to become pale and flat. This will depend on your individual healing qualities. Firm pressure on your scars from a well fitting bra will help if this is a problem.
Numbness of the nipples and the surrounding skin is not uncommon in the early stages although many patients experience the return of sensation very quickly. The nipples are preserved on a stalk of breast tissue during your procedure and in the vast majority of cases they remain natural with normal contraction and relatively good sensitivity.
Very rarely the stalk of breast tissue will have inadequate blood vessels and part or even all of the nipple may die. This complication means that dressings over the nipple area may be required until natural healing occurs. After that it is possible to reconstruct the nipple in a secondary procedure should that be required.
During your surgery your surgeon will take meticulous care to stop any bleeding points. Occasionally, however, a blood vessel will leak after the operation. If a significant collection of blood (haematoma) occurs it may be necessary to return to theatre. If a haematoma is minor, natural reabsorption will occur.
As in any surgery, there is a possibility of infection, but this is readily treated with antibiotics and/or dressings as required.
In some patients there is some minor loss of wound adhesion. This temporary complication results in a small scab which separates after a few weeks.