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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

After breast reconstruction surgery

Ā muri i te poka hanganga ū

You'll wake up in the recovery room after your operation. You can read about what to expect when you wake up from an anaesthetic.

Getting mobile

It's best to move out of bed as soon as you've recovered from your anaesthetic. Your nurse and physiotherapist will help you. They will show you good posture, gentle exercises and how to prevent strain on your stitches and your flap. It's common to feel tired or lethargic.

Preventing blood clots in your legs

To reduce the risk of blood clots, you'll be fitted with compression stockings, which you'll need to wear until you're active at home. If you're at a higher risk of blood clots, you'll also get a daily injection.

Wound drains

Plastic tubes will be used to drain fluid from your wounds. These will stay in place until the fluid reduces. After some procedures, such as a TRAM or DIEP flap reconstruction, you may go home with a drainage tube in. You'll be shown how to use it in hospital and a district nurse will visit every day to check it. See Caring for your drain at home after surgery for instructions on how to care for your drain.

Pain relief

You'll be prescribed a range of pain relief options while in hospital. You might use patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) and oral medication. Your doctors will discuss this with you.

Breast and wound care

After your operation, your surgeon might put a tape called Mefix over the stitches. Padding will cover the tape. Nurses will check your new breast frequently to monitor blood flow, warmth and healing. They will tell you when to start wearing a bra. They might advise you to avoid sleeping on your tummy.

Other issues

You'll receive intravenous fluids from a drip until you're drinking normally again. After a TRAM or DIEP flap operation, you might have a catheter in your bladder to drain urine for two to three days.

Leaving hospital

When you can leave hospital will depend on which operation you've had, your general health and how quickly you recover. It might be within three to seven days. When you're discharged, you'll need someone to drive you home. Please arrange this in advance if possible.

On the next page: Self-care after breast reconstruction

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


Page reference: 85849

Review key: HIBRC-85838