Post-operative recovery after a LD flap breast reconstruction
LD flap breast reconstruction usually requires a hospital stay of 3–5 days.
After LD flap breast reconstruction:
- The reconstructed breast(s) will be monitored carefully, every 30–60 minutes for the first day or so. This is important to make sure that the blood supply to the reconstructed breast is sufficient. Although this frequent checking can make it difficult to sleep, it is the best way to check for any postoperative complications. It also means action can be taken promptly if there is a complication.
- You will experience some discomfort or pain and tightness in the chest area and upper back (there are many pain-relief options available to help manage this)
- excess blood and fluid will be drained from the reconstructed breast and back using tubes inserted under the skin to prevent excessive swelling and reduce pressure on the blood vessels supplying the tissue flap(s); the tubes will usually be removed 2–6 days after surgery
- you may need to wear a support bra or bandage to help reduce swelling and support the reconstructed breast(s)
- you will have an oval-shaped scar on the breast(s) and a straight vertical or slanted horizontal scar(s) on the back; these scars can usually be covered by your bra.
Healing may take several weeks as the swelling goes down. Arm movement will be limited for at least a few weeks after surgery. Day-to-day arm function should return to usual within 3–6 weeks. However, strenuous arm movements, including driving and heavy lifting, should be avoided for at least 6 weeks after surgery.
Returning to exercise or sports may take 2–4 months, possibly longer for high-impact sports. Gentle arm movement exercises, guided by a physiotherapist, may help speed up recovery of arm function.
As with any surgery, postoperative recovery will take longer if you have complications. The length of recovery will depend on the severity of the complication and treatment needed.