Recovery Guides

Downloadable PDF Guides

Breast Reconstruction


General Instructions Post-surgery

You should arrange for someone to stay with you in the days immediately following discharge. Most patients are able to return to work after four to five weeks, longer if your job requires heavy lifting or other strenuous activity.

What to expect after surgery

Moderate swelling of the reconstructed breast for a few months.
Numbness in the reconstructed breast, the donor site, and possibly the upper, inner arm for six to twelve months.
An emotional letdown after surgery is normal.

Please call us if you experience:

Persistent fever above 101.5º
Rapidly expanding swelling under the skin
Spreading redness around the surgical site(s)
Change in the color of your flap
Pus in your drain

Wound care

Empty your drain(s) twice a day, record the amounts on the provided log sheet.
You may change dressings daily.
You may shower, but avoid baths and hot tubs until all your drains are removed.


Take your prescribed pain medication as needed. If still taking narcotics after a week begin transitioning to ibuprofen.
Do not drive while taking narcotic pain medications.
To prevent constipation and straining after surgery take Miralax or other over-the-counter stool softener, such as Senokot-S or Colace.


Light meals are typically better tolerated after surgery.
Avoid alcohol while taking prescription pain medication.


No smoking.
No driving for two weeks.
No sexual activity for three weeks.
No heavy lifting (over 5 pounds) for three weeks.
Do not sleep on your side or stomach for three weeks.
Daily walks will aid your healing and reduce the risk of blood clots.
Wear a gentle support bra without an underwire for four weeks. See Postoperative Garments for guidelines on selecting an appropriate support bra.

Scar care

After two weeks you may begin gentle scar massage with a moisturizing lotion to help soften scars while healing. Protect your incision from sun exposure by applying sunblock to scars for the first year. Sun damage darkens and thickens scars, and can penetrate bathing suits.

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