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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Self-care after breast reconstruction

If you want telephone advice after you've left hospital:


See your GP (or go to an after-hours GP) as soon as possible if you have:


You may need help at home with lifting children, shopping and housework for two to six weeks. You can drive when you feel safe to do an emergency stop, usually after four to six weeks. Avoid contact sports while you're healing. Your normal energy levels should return after around three months. Continue with the exercises you learned in the hospital.


Everyone's healing differs, so we cannot say exactly when you'll be ready to return to work. Most women take between four and eight weeks off work.

Breast support

Unless hospital staff say otherwise, wear your sports-type bra (without underwires) 24 hours a day for the first month (but take it off for showers). Underwire bras may be uncomfortable for another few months.

Wound care

Most of your stitches will dissolve by themselves, though you may be told you have some that need to be taken out.

Your wounds will have been covered with adhesive strips in the operating theatre. You can leave these on until they fall off. Then replace them with 1 cm- to 2 cm-wide paper tape from a pharmacy. The tape keeps the scar line covered, which reduces the risk of lumpy, itchy or wide scars. Continue with the tape for three to six months or until the scars fade from red to white.

Showering is safe on the third day but do not soak the wounds in a bath or swimming pool until they're completely healed (usually after two weeks).

Pain relief

Take the pain relief pills prescribed by the hospital. As you become more comfortable, continue with paracetamol (two pills, four times a day) but take less of the other pills. When you're comfortable taking only paracetamol, start taking it just when you need it.

Avoid constipation

Watch out for constipation and talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you need laxatives. Straining can affect your wound.

Follow-up appointment

You'll be given an outpatient appointment at the Plastic Surgery Department or one will be sent to you.

Further surgery

Over the months after surgery, the shape and skin of your breasts will change. Some women have concerns that may be eased by further surgery.

On the next page: Caring for your drain at home after surgery

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by Canterbury DHB Plastic Surgery Department. Last reviewed November 2020.


See also:

Pain relief for adults on discharge from hospital

Page reference: 85850

Review key: HIBRC-85838