What does recovery from breast asymmetry involve?

Basically, you will need lots of rest and recuperation. Your breasts will feel sore and bruised, and are likely to be swollen as well. You will have to wear a light support bandage for a couple of weeks and a special support bra. A soft, sports bra is a good idea.

During this time you will feel tired, sore and a bit down. This is a completely normal reaction to the surgery. Don’t forget, you would have been keyed up and nervous beforehand and this is a reaction to all of that stress. You have gone from a sense of anticipation to a complete anti-climax.

For the first two to three days you will be feeling sore, bruised and swollen. You will have been given painkillers to deal with this so keep taking them. You can apply ice packs to the sore areas. The dressings will stay in place for two weeks following surgery.

You will have sore and swollen breasts for up to a week after surgery. Wear a support bra or a special sports bra that fastens up at the front and wear this for 4 to 6 weeks following surgery.
If non-dissolvable stitches have been used then these will have to be removed 10 days following your operation.

When you arrive home, do not attempt to do any of your normal household jobs such as cleaning, putting the washing out or tidying up. Make sure you have someone that can do this for you. This is ‘me time’ now: a time when you will need plenty of sleep and time to recover. You will find that you feel slightly groggy and dizzy following the anaesthetic. Do not try and do anything which requires you to concentrate.

Try to avoid doing anything that requires you to lift or stretch. Do not carry anything heavy or cumbersome. Make sure that any items you need such as kitchen utensils are at eye level. And make sure you can reach various items without having to bend over or stretch for them.

If you have children then ask your partner or member of your family to look after them for the first few days. This applies to very small children such as toddlers. What you don’t want is a lively two year to jump on you when you are trying to rest!

Have the follow arrangements in place when you arrive back home:

  • Your partner or family member/friend to help out with everyday tasks. These can include household duties, looking after your children and/or the family pet.
  • Ask your partner or friend to cook meals for you for the first few days. What is helpful is if you have managed to go food shopping before your surgery and bought in enough ready prepared meals and treats. This saves you from having to worrying about cooking for yourself.
  • Keep your fluids up during this time. Drink plenty of water. Instead of buying those large, 2-litre bottles of water, keep a few smaller ones and straws close to hand. The ‘sports type’ bottles are very handy.
  • Do any cleaning beforehand. You will not be fit enough to do this or any other housework during this time so try and do it before your surgery.
  • Make sure you have a good supply of painkillers, medications, bandages, dressings etc. With your medications, note what day and when you take them. For example, if a medication has to be taken 3 times a day after meals then note this on the bottle.
  • Keep some blankets and a soft pillow to hand. If you feel the need to have a lie down in the living room then cover yourself with a blanket. Surgery can cause you to feel the cold more than usual. Feeling cold is also common when you are tired and this is something you will notice after your surgery.
  • Keep by your bed, a small table on which your medications, painkillers, mobile phone, bottled water and most importantly, the remote control are to hand. Ensure that you have a decent lamp as you will be a bit unsteady on your feet for the first day or so. If you have to get up in the night then you will need to put the light on.
  • Wear something comfortable during the day. You do not want to wear anything which feels tight or could cause friction against your surgical wounds. Loose tops or shirts, a jogging suit or a baggy t-shirt and pyjama trousers are ideal.
  • You will find yourself taking naps at different times during the day. In order to help with this it is a good idea to leave your curtains closed or to fix blinds so that the room is dark enough for you to sleep.
  • You will spend this time either watching television or reading. If this gets a bit boring then listen to the radio or a favourite CD.

What you may find is that you feel depressed after your surgery. This is not depression in the true sense of the word: it is more a state of feeling down or a bit low. This is known as post-operative depression and can be caused by a variety of things. These include guilt or worry about the surgery; worry about the cost or spending money on cosmetic surgery; the physical trauma of the surgery and the reaction of your partner, family and friends to your new look.

This is all entirely normal and cease over time. It helps to talk to your partner or a good friend at this time. If you are still feeling depressed some time following surgery then it is worthwhile contacting your surgeon.

The next big question is when can you return to work? We would recommend that you take a week off from work. If you have an office job which involves you sat at a desk then you can return to work a week later. If your job involves you in physical activity or lifting then give yourself two weeks before returning.

It will be six weeks or more before you can resume playing sports or other strenuous activities. In respect of sex, abstain from this for a week.

It will be two to four weeks before you are well enough to drive.

As regards scarring you are looking at six weeks to make a full recovery. The scars can take up to seven months to heal.

You will have a follow up visit or visits during this time which may be the only time you leave the house. At those visits the surgical wounds will be checked and cleaned. Your surgeon will check on your progress and ask how things are. If you have any questions then ask away.

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