Breast surgeries – Post-operative period

Post-operative recuperation is considered to be an integral part of surgery as the achievement of the expected results, as well as the success of the operation, depend on it. Therefore, post-operative visits play a pivotal role in the healing process as they allow the early detection and treatment of complications. They are usually held at 7, 14, 28 days, 3, 6 and 12 months post-op.

Upon discharge, a letter with post-operative instructions will be provided; medication prescribed (antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, pain-killers); and any necessary precautions will be clearly described.

Good personal hygiene is crucial for proper healing and to avoid wound infection. In light of this, the surgeon will provide clear instructions for wound management. For example, during the first two weeks after the surgery wounds must not be wetted.  Dissolvable sutures are usually used, so there is no need for stitch removal.

After surgery, bruises may appear, which may take around two weeks to recede. Swelling is more or less evident, according to personal predisposition and the extent of the procedure, and subsides significantly in the first weeks post-op. It may be more apparent on one side. It is normal to experience some numbness on the breasts and nipples for a few months after the surgery, depending on the extent of the surgery.

In order to prevent the swelling and accelerate resorption, it is essential to wear a front-fastening sports bra, day and night for two months. The bra plays a major role in sustaining and lifting the breasts in their new position and conformation. For the same reason, in the first two weeks post-operation, patients must sleep on their backs and not on their sides, with the back slightly elevated.

Initially the breasts will look higher and fuller than their intended location and shape; within three to six weeks they will acquire a natural position and conformation.

In most cases patients are unfit for work for two weeks.  If intense physical strain is required, such as weight lifting, longer downtime is necessary. Normal activities such as driving, house-work, sexual intercourse and socialising can be resumed after two weeks, depending on the extent of the surgery and ensuring movements are avoided, which involve intense strain on the arms. Lighter sports may be resumed after three weeks, while for more intense sports it is preferable to wait for at least three months.

Breast contouring procedures result in more or less extended scars. In order to achieve the best results, in terms of scar quality and hence visibility, it is advisable to apply paper tape to scars for three months, replacing them every ten days. In this way, skin tension, which may cause scar widening, is reduced.  Afterwards, silicone gel should be applied for a few months, to facilitate optimal scarring. Sunscreens must be applied to the scars for at least three months and elasticizing creams are prescribed for application on the breasts.

During post-op visits, starting from the first month, photographs are taken to monitor progress.