Breast Reconstruction Recovery

The recovery timeline following breast reconstruction will primarily depend upon whether implants or the patient's own tissue (flap reconstruction) are used to create the breast mound. An implant procedure can involve an initial recovery time of about six weeks. If a tissue expander is used, replacing the expander with an implant will require about two more weeks of recovery. A flap reconstruction procedure using microvascular techniques involves six to eight weeks of recovery. Dr. Oren Lerman is highly experienced in this procedure, and he can help you experience a successful breast reconstruction recovery following surgery at his Manhattan, New York, practice.

woman's bust

Inpatient Care

Breast reconstruction patients will need to remain in the hospital for one to two days following implant reconstruction and five to six days after flap reconstruction. If your surgery is performed at the same time as a mastectomy, your doctor may recommend an additional day or two beyond the two to three days of recovery usually needed following a mastectomy.

During this time, Dr. Lerman and your nurses will encourage you to move your arms as much as possible. Regardless of the reconstruction method, the surgery significantly affects the muscles of the chest. Because many upper arm muscles are anchored in the chest, this can have an impact on arm movement. Therefore, it is important to build arm strength again slowly after surgery. However, these initial exercises will not be strenuous.

To avoid straining the chest and arms, you will need a family member or friend to drive you home after you have been discharged from the hospital.

During a consultation with Dr. Lerman, he can explain what to expect before, during, and after surgery. 

Recovering at Home

Because of the strain on the chest and arms, many find it difficult to sit down, stand up, and get in or out of bed for the first six to eight weeks after breast reconstruction. Many also report soreness, swelling, and bruising during the first two to three weeks of recovery, as well as some numbness or tightness at the surgical sites. 

You will need to return to the doctor regularly for check-ups throughout this period, but the bulk of recovery will depend on self-care. You will be instructed to regularly perform special exercises to prevent stiffness and excess scar tissue in the chest and arms.

While patients can typically return to their normal routine at the end of this period, it will still be several weeks before they can engage in more strenuous exercise such as heavy lifting, running, and sexual activity.

One Year after Surgery

It can take a year or more for the tissue to heal completely and the scars to fade. Once the shape of the reconstructed breast has improved, patients may decide to undergo additional procedures such as nipple reconstruction.

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As with any plastic surgery, patient education plays a vital role in the success of breast reconstruction surgery. During a consultation with Dr. Lerman, he can explain your options, recommend the approach that best meets your needs and goals, and help you to understand what to expect before, during, and after. surgery. To schedule a consultation, please contact us today.

Dr. Oren Lerman

Oren Z. Lerman, MD

Dr. Oren Lerman performs a variety of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures with a specialty in reconstructive breast surgery. In fact, he is the director of breast reconstruction at Lenox Hill Hospital's Institute for Comprehensive Breast Care as well as the Microvascular and Cosmetic Breast Fellowship. In addition to the hospital, Dr. Lerman is affiliated with:

  • The New York Regional Society of Plastic Surgeons (Past President)
  • The American Board of Plastic Surgery (Diplomate)
  • The American College of Surgeons (Fellow)
  • The American Society of Plastic Surgeons
  • The American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery

You can schedule a consultation with Dr. Lerman by filling out our online form or calling (212) 434-6980.

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"The one thing that is most important when we're doing cosmetic surgery and aesthetic surgery of the face or the body is to make sure that the patient is happy afterwards..." Dr. Oren Lerman

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